tolerance in relationshipsI would like to take this opportunity to react to a comment that reader Sam left on my recent blog, “When Men Act Like Teenage Girls.”

In the post I was commenting on how Frank, my new boyfriend, was acting eager about our relationship (like young girls are stereotyped as doing) by moving in his razor and toothbrush after a couple of sleepovers, as well as talking about weddings and “married names.” 

Sam wrote the following reaction:  “I find your comments and complaints far more immature than his acts. An adult is tolerant of unimportant things (toothbrush and razor). And an adult learns to have some give and take (ok if I talk dirty to you tonight, tomorrow its whip cream and strawberries night for me) or maybe even finding a unique way to satisfy his fantasies… like dressing up and acting like another woman just for fun. Yeah complaining it’s the easiest thing in the world… tolerance and creativity to solve a problem… now there is something worth talking about!

I would like to say, “Sam, you are right.”  I could have chosen to be tolerant of the toothbrush and razor, however, it scared the shit out of me and felt like he was moving to something much more permanent then I was ready for.  I could have broached the subject matter like a mature adult, asking him what his intentions were, but instead the scared little girl inside of me kept her mouth shut because I didn’t want to hear the answer.

It was moving so fast and I had never encountered someone who liked me enough to feel right at home at my place.

And yes, there is a give and take to relationships – especially when it comes to sex.  I wasn’t thinking of Frank as a long-term relationship prospect because he was going off to Afghanistan for a year.  I assumed that he, like I, was just interested in some instant gratification.  Who knew that I would actually develop feelings for him?

Even at 36, I still find it hard to broach bedroom conversations.  I’ve read every magazine article and self-help book on the subject.  I do tell what I like and don’t like – I’m not afraid to say “no” but like many women I’m afraid of hurting the man’s feelings.  I suppose when Frank returns to the States and we’re still in a relationship we can sort-out the sex thing.

And yes, Sam you are right about complaining being the easiest thing in the world.  If universities handed out PhDs in complaining, I would fly to the head of the graduation line without even taking a course.  However, sometimes storytelling can be confused with complaining.  I like to think that as I’ve gotten older I’m able to figure out when and what to complain about.  I learned a long time ago that complaining doesn’t get you where you want to go however, sometimes you just need to release the negative feelings built up inside.  Sam, I promise you that I will do my best to be more tolerant of Frank and all the other men in my life and will seek to solve problems with creativity instead of kvetching.

My intentions with this blog are to share my thoughts and actions in relationships with the men in my life and that hopefully readers can relate.  If a reader gets a laugh, an “a-ha,” or even a “bull hit” (like you), I believe that I’ve done my job.

To paraphrase writer Freeman Tilden, “The chief aim of my writing is not instruction but provocation.”  So I thank you for your response and hope that you, and others, continue to read my blog and share your comments.

Photo by Windell Oskay, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.