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Finding Your Way Through Confusion

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Finding Your Way Through Confusion

When you’re trying to decide whether to stay or go, you may be tempted to talk about your feelings with your partner. Do yourself, and him, a favor: DON’T. Not unless you’re both sitting in front of a trained professional therapist or coach.

Trust me, this is the biggest mistake I made during the whole time I was in the process of deciding whether I wanted to stay or go. And yes, that’s including the time I lied about where I was going for the weekend.

It wreaked havoc on my partner’s psyche, it created confusion in my mind, and it generally made everything much more complicated. Think about it: he has no way to discern what you’re saying, and he (if he’s a typical man and an internal processor) will think the words you say today are gospel forever; whereas you’re likely just saying the words that are swimming around in your head in that moment.

That’s a major difference between men and women. I am generalizing here, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t fit into this mold. Men are internal processors and women are external processors. What this means is that men will tend not to say anything about a subject until they’ve thought it through thoroughly, looked at all the pros and cons of each side, argued with themselves for and against each, and decided what they think about it. The End. They are highly unlikely to change their minds once they’ve made their decision, unless they’re presented with new and deeply compelling evidence to the contrary.

Women, on the other hand, are external processors. Taken to the extreme, if it’s in your mind, it’s out your mouth. I’m a lot like that personally. I think out loud all the time. My partner would say it’s because I like to hear myself talk, but it’s more about bouncing the words off another person to get their reaction. That way I rely not only on my own arguments and perspective, but I get a broader perspective by gauging how others respond. I play through all the options, most of them out loud.

This is very confusing to men. It can also be aggravating to women to sit in the silent space while men are processing their thoughts. We each assume that the other thinks like we think and we project our tendencies onto the other. While it’s frustrating for women to wait in the silent space, it’s worse for men. They can get emotional whiplash trying to wrap their minds around your mental gymnastics.

I’m sorry to be the one to say this out loud, but you probably already know it: you are likely to be very confused at least a couple of times during this process. Do not share your confusion with your partner, unless you’re in front of a trained professional. Use your journal, your best friend, or your own therapist or coach.

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