Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

The Last to Know

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I do actually have friends who are in happy, healthy, relaitonships – and otherwise.  Not too long ago I got a call from one of them.  My friend was uber-stressed out about some issues at home and wanted to vent ( 10ish years, I think, I can never remember stuff like that).

I tend to hear a lot of this kind of thing.  Most of my friends think of me as a good listener.  I listen to everything, all the gory details, and try my hardest not to judge or take sides (I said try, it isn’t always easy).   And I do what I can to be supportive.   My feeling is that people usually already know what’s wrong, or what they should do.  They just need to talk it out.

Anyway, I was listening to what’s been going on with this couple that I’ve known for over a decade and it occured to me that even though their relationship is for the most part strong, they’ve been having problems for a while.  And that they haven’t said anything to each other about it.  They’ve fought.  About little things.  But they haven’t talked. Not about the big stuff.  Not about the problems.

And then it hit me that I’ve done the same thing every time I’ve been in a serious relationship.  I’ve talked to my friends about what was bothering me, hurting me.  But I didn’t tell the guy until, frankly, it was pretty much too late.

Not that it’s too late for my friends.  No.  They have a long history together and I’m sure they’ll eventually talk and figure it out. But with me and my LTRs, the guy is always the last to know when I’m at the end of my rope.  And then, well, I’m at the end of my rope and ready to let go.

Plus I have a nasty temper so when I do, indeed, reach the end of my rope I lose my temper and that’s bad.

I’m not sure if or when I’m going to ever meet someone who I might want to get serious with again.  But if I do, I want to remember this.  And try to remember that if there’s something bothering me I need to tell him sooner, rather than later.  Because the person you’re mad at probably shouldn’t be the last to know.  Probably.

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9 to “The Last to Know”

  1. grad student says:

    Very insightful! I think that may be the key to a marriage or other permanent relationship. You both can talk about the big things. It isn’t easy to do, even then, but it has to happen. I personally went through a ‘last to know’. There was a situation that went on for about 3-4 months; I found out and felt very betrayed. Wife ended the situation (not cheating, I don’t know if I could survive physical infidelity by my wife, but that’s not the point here) and we were ‘fine’. Except, I wasn’t. I spent a few months wondering if, when we moved that coming summer, we would be together or not. Now, this was all my own thoughts. Did not share my concerns with my wife; didn’t want to ‘get into it’. Then, I decided I was OK with what happened; we were fine. But no. Even over the next year or so, I would revisit the situation and be unhappy. I talked about it a little with a professional. That helped, but not totally. FINALLY, 2 yrs after the fact, I told her. I told her why I said and did things sometimes; that I was still insecure a bit over what had happened and, when I was feeling especially vulnerable, the insecurity would loom large. I told her how I felt and why I reacted as I did. And finally, I am good with it. If I had said something to her earlier, I could have avoided much anguish on my part (and much that I inflicted on her, directly and indirectly). It’s not always easy, but you are right: you gotta tell ’em.

  2. pansophy says:

    Yeah well I’ve always talked about the big things while they are happening and it doesn’t necessarily translate into a better, stronger relationship. Sure the issues are on the table but that in itself doesn’t make the issues go away or resolve them.

    I found it very interesting when I saw research suggesting that it isn’t the people with the best communication skills that have the best relationships, its the people that let stuff go. By let stuff go I mean actually letting it go, not pretending to let it go or not talking about it and letting it fester, but actually just letting it go.

    It’s all very Buddhist actually, but research at least suggests its the path to happier relationships too.

  3. Tahoe Bill says:

    As you practice sharing the good *and* the bad, big and little, you’ll probably find that you need that temper less and less. That’s been my experience anyway.

  4. grad student says:

    @pansophy. I agree. You have to let things go. Plus, simply talking about a thing doesn’t fix it. But, if it is festering, I think it needs to be talked about. However, the goal should be to get past the festering and then let it go. Plus, not EVERYTHING needs to be hashed out and worried about. Some things, you just let go… truly, without thought.

    @Tahoe Bill… I think you are right. Often our tempers are not wholly about the trigger of the moment, but are more a result of built up frustration. At least, mine is.

  5. toywithme says:

    I use to be very similar to you (minus the temper, I’m a lover not a fighter) when dealing with relationship problems. As mentioned, I hate to fight, so although I would be angry with my husband (of 24 years) I would turn to friends to vent. When my venting was done it was off my mind and therefore problem solved. Of course not really. But I would choose this method rather than dealing with the issue at hand with my husband. Thankfully along the way I have matured and grown and come to realize that if I have a problem I go directly to the source and state my feelings. Perhaps it is not always solved in my favor but I do feel better being open, honest and upfront in my realtionship instead of involving others. It has worked this long.

    Having said that, people are unique individuals. What works for one may not work for another.

  6. Quirkyeconomist says:

    I absolutely agree with pansophy that letting go is key but personally, I have a hard time letting go of stuff without talking it out – the question then is who do I talk to? A lot of times, I talk to my friends first and that outside perspective helps me figure out if it’s something ‘big enough’ to talk about with my guy, or to let it go if it’s a little thing. Of course, I also tend to wear my emotions all over my face so when something’s bugging me, only someone completely clueless (like my last two LTRs) wouldn’t see it. My current guy is not completely clueless so he usually asks me what’s up and we talk before I have a chance to get too worked up.

  7. pups4me says:

    Both my ex-husband and I were guilty of not talking about the big issues..neither of us was good at expressing ourselves on a deeper level, and quite frankly, it was simpler to avoid things. However, eventually it all caught up to us, or to me, and that’s why we are no longer together. After lots of soul searching and trying to figure out where we went wrong, a very simple sentence made it very clear.
    We are not mind readers.
    Yep, it’s as simple as that. We cannot expect someone else to know what we are thinking, what we want, what we are upset about, etc..unless we tell them.
    It’s not always easy or fun to share what is on our minds, but understanding that it’s up to us to express ourselves was a huge lesson for me.
    I’m still working on this myself, but it has helped me a great deal as I move forward in relationships with family, friends and significant others.

  8. dmfontana says:

    Having lived thru the “last to know” situation, I find this post very powerful and personal. I was married for 16 years, and for most of it I felt that I was the “first to know”, felt that I could easily tell what my ex was thinking, needed, when we we good and when we weren’t. She was an avoider, but I would talk until we got the issue in the open — which by the way was when she had no promblem sharing (and sharing and sharing some more) withme what was bothering her.

    In the end however, I did miss somethng and became a “last to know” — something (to this day I don’t know what that something is because she has refused to discuss it) resulted in our divorce.

    I offer this up after much thought. In my future LTR I would hope that the person I date has the courage to go out on a limb and talk. I realize that each time you do it, you become slightly afraid of the health of the realtionship. However, working it out together is much bether than being alone seperately — one person who was “the first to know” and the other “the last”

  9. Simone Grant says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing your own, very personal stories. Sometimes I write these things and think, no one will relate. It’s comforting to know these are common experiences. Common struggles.

    As toywithme with me said, we are all very different. I know, logically, that I need to let go of things. But I know, on an even deeper level, that I am incapable of letting go of any issues in a relationships without first sharing those issues with my partners (or friend, etc). In this I see that I’m not alone. As to my temper, Tahoe Bill, I’d love to see it disappear altogether. I also know that that will require a lot of work on my part.

    And toywithme, welcome to the blog. I hope you’ll be dropping by more often :-)