It’s not my style to talk about relationships. I am the guy who talks about other things, like success, self-development, blogging, content marketing. Relationships? Love? That’s something other people write about, people who know what they are talking about. That’s not me. I don’t know a thing about it.
I must confess. I realized that not talking about it, not thinking about relationships and its meaning in my life looks more like me running away from something important. It’s me being in denial.
The truth is, I am afraid.
I Am the Type of Guy Who Has Had a Serious Relationship Since 19
I am also the type of guy who is scared shitless to talk about it, even think about it. The word ‘love’ seems strange, fluffy and not something I use often in my vocabulary. At least to a person.
I do say ‘I love you’ to those I care about, of course. But whenever I do, I want to get through it quickly, as if it were something unpleasant. Sometimes I wonder whether I actually mean it. Sometimes I feel that I am ashamed of being able to love.
Psychologists say that all of our mental problems can be traced back to the past, to when we were little kids. But I am tired of having to go deep all the time. I am tired of exploring my past — something that I can’t change anyway.
In fact, tired is what I feel every time the topic of relationships becomes the center of discussion.
I get bored, tired, sleepy whenever my girlfriend tries to talk about where our relationship is going. She tells me that if we don’t work on it, it won’t go anywhere. I guess she is right. I don’t know why, but it seems to me that other men know how to handle these things.
In My Country, Discussing Relationships Is Not Something a Man Does
It’s something only women do. They take care of relationships and stay beautiful, while men go make money. Post-Soviet Russia is full of stereotypes and medieval ways of living.
In my family, my father never discussed relationships with my mother. He loved her alright, I could see that, but I’ve never heard them talk about them. At first I thought that maybe it’s because I was a kid, and couldn’t actually hear them talk.
Today, when I am a grown up and they are divorced, I learned that they actually never did. My father thought that relationship-talk is useless, and never leads to anything productive. You know, like making money or building another business.
He would spend time with us watching movies, cuddled on the sofa. That was called ‘family time’.
For a long time I thought that’s the way to go.
I always remembered my father’s rule:
Women like to talk about relationships, but such discussions never lead to anything good. Avoid such discussions at all costs.
So that’s what I did. Whenever my girlfriend wanted to talk about us, I quickly changed the topic. Or let her go for it, nodding quietly and thinking about other things. You know, like what Medium article to write the next day.
And whenever I got exhausted from work and wanted to spend ‘quality time’ with my girlfriend, we went to the movies. Or watched Netflix.
The Tipping Point Was When We Got in a Fight
One day me and girlfriend got in a serious fight. It was actually a series of mini-fights, escalating to one a big falling out.
She told me than I never listen to her. I disagreed. She said that I was selfish and thought only about myself. I looked at my bank card statement and disagreed again. She said we never spend time together. I recalled the day before and how we went to see that movie. She said I don’t get it. I agreed.
Eventually, I got tired. As always. I wanted to wrap things up.
We had these fights before, and I always thought of them as something not worth paying attention to. But this time she would not stop. Apparently, she’s had enough.
Just tell me, are you even interested in what I am trying to tell you here?
I decided to think about it for a second, just one last time before we wrap up. And then something clicked in my head. I realized the underlying reasons for my behavior.
My mouth replied:
To be honest, not really. I am really not interested in what you are saying. I don’t like discussing relationships. Sorry.
She looked down. I could see by her face that she gave up. She gave up trying to convince me that I was wrong and that talking about things that concern us both is important.
After that we stopped discussing relationships. But it started the process of thinking in my head.
Maybe I Am Love Avoidant
I found this term in one of Neil Strauss’s books.
But collecting terms, such as General Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, love avoidant, love addict (the opposite of me, I guess) doesn’t lead anywhere. It just makes you more confused.
- Is there such thing as love avoidant?
- Are people born with it, or is it a safety mechanism of your brain reacting to something bad that happened in the past? If so, can you change it?
- Are you love avoidant, or is your partner a love addict?
- Can you ever truly feel love, like other people say they do?
- Is there actually a problem, or did you come up with it yourself?
There are too many questions and not enough answers.
More than that: labeling yourself with something looks more like giving up to me. You just say: “Well, that’s who I am, sorry” — and don’t do anything about it.
I Started Paying Attention to How Other Couples Interact
After that big fight I started paying attention to how other men handle relationships. In movies, on the streets, in cafes, in Netflix documentaries, everywhere.
I tried to understand, was what I was used to — even right?
We live in London, so what I saw was very different from what I was used to in my home country. I saw that men cared. I also saw that that they discussed relationships. They were there when the other person needed them. They were present. Their quality time was not Netflix, it was talking and going for long walks.
Even Roger Stone paid attention to his wife and called them “our team of two”.
A thought came to my mind. Maybe what I was taught — was wrong. Maybe there is another way.
Why We Should Talk About Relationships
Relationships is what makes our lives rich. Being as introverted and weird as I am, I imagined being alone and having nobody to talk to or to consult with. It felt sad. I need other people. I need to feel valued and loved. So do all of us.
I slowly started realizing that there is nothing wrong with discussing relationships. There is no shame in being vulnerable and loving somebody. In fact, it’s a big strength.
I also realized that just because my family and my home country has certain ideals, I don’t have to live by them. I can choose my own — those, that work for me.
Especially when I am still young.
This is not a success-story, and I still struggle with keeping myself focused when my girlfriend wants to talk about us. But I don’t run away anymore. Something changed inside me, and I can feel that a tree of personal growth is planted. Now it just needs time to grow.
Your life is like a pizza. There is a slice of work, there is a slice of personal development (mini slices of physical, spiritual, mental parts), and then there is a slice of relationships. Love. Close ones.
Neglecting that part is neglecting a big part of your life and, as a result, not living it to the fullest. That was a lesson for me and I am still on my path to really learning it.
I am immensely grateful to my girlfriend for being there and helping me grow, not quitting on me, even though I might be hard to live with.
And I am on my way to becoming a better version of me.