I don’t not like it.
I don’t not care which restaurant we go to.
We can go wherever you want for dinner – (unsaid: but it needs to be in my budget which you should instinctively know). You choose.
You need to do your best and get good marks.
You can do what you want but there will be consequences.
We’ll meet you at 4-ish
Can you please get some cards and wrapping paper and stuff like that.
I need an answer as soon as you can.
I need you to make changes.
You’ll know what you should and shouldn’t do when you get there.
I can’t say that I don’t disagree with you.
You order dinner – I like everything.
You’re not unattractive.
I don’t not like you.
Oh well…I’m sure you tried your best. Just do better next time.
What you’re doing is just wrong – I don’t know what you should do but I know this is wrong.
The list goes on – the reason I am the queen of unclear and ambiguous statements – is that my father puts a double negative in every second sentence that comes out of his mouth. Double negative? I don’t not like it. I bring to you the words “don’t and “not” in the same sentence.
He believes that this makes him more polite, unassuming, and kind.
Truth – it makes him one of the most confusing people I have ever spoken with.
Setting clear time and money boundaries – nup, nup, nup “whenever suits you darling”. All the while I knew he has extreme anxiety and suffocating panic about both time and money. And I am left pinning the tail on the donkey – and not finding the right spot. Endlessly.
These conversations do your head in big time.
Some of the sentences above are obviously unclear – others not so obvious.
BUT – if you don’t tell someone the gnarly details of your expectations then they’ll never feel like they are enough.
They’ll say something like “nothing I ever do is enough”
And to me – making someone you love feel like they are never enough is far from polite.
Or – maybe they’ll give up trying.
You are taking all their own ability to choose whether they can deliver on your expectations.
I can tell you now – that “4ish” to me is 3:30. To one of my sisters, it’s around 6 pm. Without clear direction – neither of us is correct, and if I don’t tell her the booking is at 4:15 – I’m not being clear and not allowing her license to say whether she can actually be there on time or not.
In marriage and relationships, it goes a little something like this:
“Do better next time” – Better how?
“You need to change” – Change what?
“I need help with the kids” – help with what exactly and when?
“If you loved me, you’d just know.” – know what?
“I’ll be home whenever” – whenever the earth spins backwards?
“Buy whatever you want.” – no preferences and budget – woo hoo
“I don’t care what religion the kids are” – let’s spin a wheel and choose one
“Don’t spend so much money” – on what?
“You need to spend less” – on what…..less $100 bills??
“I don’t care what you get me for my birthday” – because you should know what I want, and I will get angry if you get it wrong.
“Make something delicious for dinner” – delicious to who?
The killer statement:
“I just hate everything you do.”
Fixing “everything I do” – hmmm……now there is a daunting task. And the chances I will pick what is actually shi%%ing my spouse – very, very low.
Not being clear – is a big fat cop-out.
And actually very controlling.
Oops – I went there.
Put 100 bones in front of a dog and say “bring me the bone”.
I’ll finish with this from Brene Brown.
“I first heard this saying two decades ago in a 12-step meeting, but I was on slogan overload at the time and didn’t even think about it again until I saw the data about how most of us avoid clarity because we tell ourselves that we’re being kind, when what we’re actually doing is being unkind and unfair.
Feeding people half-truths or bullsh*t to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind.
Not getting clear with a colleague about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind.
Talking about people rather than to them is unkind.”
If you’d like help getting clarity around your and your partner’s expectations.
If you need to have some of those gnarly, messy, scary conversations that clearly state what you both need.
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P.S. Funny fact – my spellchecker went off its head with all the double negatives in this post. HATED them. 🙂