Originally Posted by sparklepop
I believe in open, honest, regular communication. No blame crap - just "this is how I feel, I'm working on it, I wanted to be honest, you don't have to change anything" OR "I'd find it really helpful if you altered (x) behaviour/situation" If I feel like crying, I'll cry. If something's on my mind, I'll bring it up. If I need something, I'll put it out there. // My GF, in contrast, believes in filtering information/communication. She does not believe that we always have to be entirely honest about how we feel - we should internalise our emotions and work through them solo; only asking for help when it is absolutely necessary, if at all.
Your communication style sounds almost exactly like mine. My husband doesn't tend to talk about things unless they are a problem, so sometimes I am surprised when something comes up out of the blue, my boyfriend however, sounds a lot like your gf, the difference being we've never had a fight, just awkward times, and as far as I know he's never had a problem with anything, or if so, he's managed to make it through two years without ever suggesting otherwise.
Just this weekend I felt compelled to bring up something on my mind, without the expectation that he do anything about it, but because I would feel stressed if I didn't let him know what was in my head. I don't think he enjoys it, but he is very tolerant of our different communication styles, and I do my best to just accept my partners as they are (which is MUCH easier when you dont live with them...)
Originally Posted by sparklepop
The obvious problem is that I never know how she really feels; therefore, I can never congratulate her on overcoming something, or reassure her if she's struggling. It has also led to her belief that I struggle much more with poly than she does. I find this destructive, because it leads me to feel like a failure, or a burden.
Same problem here with the assumption talking about things means I'm struggling or unhappy. All you can really do is either change your communication style, or regularly reassure your partner while you are telling them what is on your mind that you are just talking out your thought process and hope they believe you. It also helps if you try to spend an equal amount of time talking about the positive thoughts as any negative ones.
From all the other stuff you say - I'd have to recommend a poly friendly therapist that specializes in communication. It doesn't look like your GF is playing fair and healthy, respecting your privacy, or accepting that you are different than she is and that you have the right to have different boundaries. You might be doing unhealthy communication things too that you don't list here because you can't see them about yourself, a counselor could help identify these things so both of you could be working on them. It sounds like you two are pretty firmly entrenched in some negative cycles, stopping them can be hard work.
About apologies...my husband will apologize and it goes like this. "I'm sorry, but I did it because of X and Y and Z " As soon as he launches into the reasons it appears as all he is doing is explaining and justifying and then the apology isn't heard (and sure doesn't feel meant). After a lot of work on both our parts we've made it so sometimes he stops after "I'm sorry" and that is enough for me. Problem is both people have to be working on changing things for it to change - the 5 languages guy also made a book about different types of apologies
which might be useful for you to read together.
So for the last bit - yes, I accept some communication differences, but if they are negatively affecting my relationship, I try to change them. I try to change MYSELF by not taking the other persons issues personally, but I try to make my partner see the damage it does, and try to recruit them to make changes too.
I won't stop communicating my way, I can't be present when something is bothering me if I don't say it. No matter how much I'd like it, my partners aren't going to start being more like me, so accepting as much as possible is smart. I don't know about providing care or not...I'd probably try to provide loving support for your gf when you see she needs it, but the onus on your gf to ask if she needs care and wants me to provide it. I'd refuse to let her treat me badly if I didn't magically read her mind and know what she needed. Being sad isn't an excuse to hurt other people.