Originally Posted by sparklepop
Lots of information here, but I'm looking for outside perspectives on how this kind of things works in your relationship. I'm not perfect and I'd like to hear your thoughts. Do you just accept communication differences? Does it generally feel better for you to have all feelings out in the open, or is filtering necessary? Is saying sorry important? How do you balance who needs care and who needs to provide it?
I'm really sorry things are rough right now. It sounds like you are really trying to make things work, and I think that's awesome.
I do have one question, and maybe you already answered it and I just missed it - you said you are a Domme and your GF was also getting over the loss of her submissive, so it sounds like you are involved in some types of power exchange relationships. Is there a power exchange between the two of you? I only ask because power exchange brings a whole new level of complex to poly dynamics, and especially communication in relationships.
In terms of communication differences, in my opinion, yes you do have to accept them. But that doesn't mean you can't work through them. My partner and I have very different communication styles, but we find ways to make it work. One of the best questions I have become accustomed to asking is "What do you need from me right now?" To me, that question says "I really want to be there for you, but I'm very confused about what is going on, so please help me help you."
In terms of the filtering, it really depends on the person. I am a filterer. I can't just openly talk about my feelings as they come up, because usually they are complicated, and I need to actually figure them out. Most of the time, I change my mind after thinking things through for a bit, and I am always glad I didn't just say what I felt at the moment because it would have done more damage, and made things pretty confusing once I actually figured out how I felt. To me, it is important that I have space to sort through my things, but my partner wants open and honest communication. So, the compromise we have come to is that I will tell him what I am feeling when I am feeling it, but that I get to choose when we talk about it. So, I say things like "I'm feeling really upset about what you said right now. I would really like us to talk about it later once I think about it more. Maybe we can set aside some time tonight. I am ok, and I absolutely love you, but I just need to figure this out." That type of thing works well, because he knows how I'm feeling, but I get my space to think it out before we talk, so I don't say something I regret. Also, I find reinforcing that I am ok and that I love him really helps, because then he's not sitting there freaking out until we talk.
In terms of saying sorry, I think it really varies. Have you ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? There's a great book about it, but on the website you can also take a quiz and find out which ones are most important to you - it just clarifies which kinds of things express love to you most, like gift, or kind words, or physical affection etc. Well, on that site, there is also information about the 5 Languages of Apology, and that might be something you and your girlfriend can look at together. It's also a quiz, and it shows what things are important for you to hear in an apology. So, maybe you really need to hear the words "I'm sorry" whereas she really only needs a promise that it won't happen again. Anyway, something to think about.
About the care - we just take it in stride. Just do what works for you. I know that sounds stupid, but if you absolutely can't provide care, then you can't. But if your partner needs something, and you can push your stuff aside for a while, then try to be there for them. It's hard, but it can be balanced.
Anyway, hope some of that helps. Sorry about the length...apparently I don't do "concise" well.