Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Communication vs. Intimidation

I used to date this amazing guy. He was tall, handsome, well built, went to two colleges (thus I thought to myself he must also be really smart) but had one issue, one major issue. He did not feed my thirst for good conversation. It was something I didn’t notice at first, due to the whole infatuation, but something that eventually chewed on me for the rest of the relationship. I just didn’t get it. Was it me, was it my fault? Was it him? It seemed to me that he was handling talking to other people just fine, it was just me with whom he made those awkwardly long pauses between words, it was with me that he tried to begin a subject and just lost himself in the middle of it to such an extent that he’d have to stutter and stare for a minute or two at whatever inspiration point on a wall (or even more annoying, on my face!) to be able to resume a complete different idea. I craved for good conversation.

At first I thought it was all in my head. Then I realized it was a real problem and ended up wondering… was this guy intimidated by me? To what degree does intimidation make us refrain from showing our partners how great of a personality we have, and instead have us wallow in an image of self pitty, the very self pitty of not being able to get over that very intimidation? Is it a vicious circle that drives us away from the one person we want to be closest to?

The stereotype of intimidation mostly covers sensitive women, but that’s mostly because you’d hardly ever hear a male admit he’s been intimidated by a female. Doing that would be like kicking their ego in the balls and losing one of them in the process. Men are intimidated by stronger women, by women whose careers are more successful, women who earn more than they do, women with a higher prestige or, more generally put, women who overshadow them or make them think they are being overshadowed by, in any and all reasons you’d imagine would make sense to a man. Is this why men usually like to pick women they consider weaker as their partners and prefer to keep the ‘better lot’ around for friendship? Would a man label himself as ‘emotionally retarded’ in the eyes of a woman by chickening out from a relationship just because he hasn’t figured out the maturity to deal with the intimidation he’s feeling? Is intimidation even in the male vocabulary, or is it one of the top notions that’s been repressed by the male ego and surfaces as strange passive-aggressive behavior (at least)?

Communication is essential for a relationship. Without it, it’s just two lonely people that try to play a role written by society or religion. Yet I’ve met the strangest of situations this week. In one of my nights out with the girls, I met this couple. Each of these two was a great person with whom you could have great conversation, extremely open to all subjects I tackled that night, quite talented in bringing up interesting subjects of their own and simply the kind of people with whom you start talking to and just don’t realize how time flies. I went to sleep at 6AM because of the curiosity it stirred in me. Because both him and her, individually told me how unhappy they are in their relationship even though they deeply care about eachother. They gave me all these arguments I won’t go through here, but all I could say is “Look, I appreciate you telling me this, but have you told him/her?” And the shocking answer from both of them was “Oh yes, sure, he/she knows!” Then what the hell is so difficult? How is it that two people who have this amazing communication and end up talking about their core issues, with perfect skill of setting things in order one way or another, how come these people both feel so very alone with eachother?

Five glasses of water and three and a half hours of sleep later, I was wondering about my own cravings in good conversation and deep communication. What if it’s not enough to hold together the complexity of a romantic relationship, as it didn’t help my two friends at all, yet just made them beat around the bush until they got completely lost? And if that’s not it, then what is the glue that does hold all that together? If beyond any absurdly intense craving there’s always another bigger one, where and when do we stop?

I’m thinking it’s a matter of choice. If two individuals can sincerely lay all their issues on eachother’s table, then they should be perfectly capable of making a decision, sticking to it and have the maturity to change it if they both agree it’s not in their mutual and individual favor anymore. It’s all a matter of choosing between fear of the unknown, which leads to incapacitation, or curiosity of the unknown, the urge to conquer the unknown, which has a better chance at evolution than the first option.

Intimidation and communication issues go hand in hand. Don’t we all at some point get intimidated by the shiny dreams we’d want to achieve and thus manage to sometimes block ourselves from getting there? Fear of failure can cloud the brightest of minds and make them seem like they’re retarded. And we wouldn’t want to give that impression to anyone, not to ourselves and not even to that possible Mr. Right we might know or might not even have had the courage to dream up yet.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it! There'll be more to come. :)

  2. though we speak the same tongue, we may not necessarily speak the same language. so it's all about taking the time to learn the other's language, isn't it? just like everything else.


  3. and another video from a must-see movie, just in case you've missed so far:


  4. Thank you for the link, Alice. I especially enjoyed the message of the second one. Words remain a subjective interpretation of each of our personalized understanding. In a more abstract way, each person has their own language.