Just Tell Me What I Want to Hear

Just Tell Me What I Want to Hear

So: packing. That is where we are this week. And not just packing, but the point in packing where it all seems completely hopeless and impossible. Every move has this moment, I’m certain of it. Moving sucks. The agreement on this point is universal.

What I think is interesting, though, is people’s responses to hearing about the progress Frank and I are making (or not making.) For whatever reason, I’ve been much more socially busy than I should be given the work I’ve got to do before the truck shows up on Thursday morning.

Between the party we hosted for engaged friends last night (planned before we knew we were leaving,) drinks on Friday, and various work functions, I feel like I’ve explained my situation to about a million people and complained to close friends way more than is strictly prudent.

People seem to have two basic types of responses to the complaining: either they say something along the lines of “Oh you’ll get it done, it’s no big deal, it’ll all be over soon,” or something like “Man that sounds terrible, I don’t envy you guys, what a shitty time.”

Which response I prefer depends entirely on how I’m feeling about the way things are going. Generally, I’m a choice B type of gal, and especially since we got to this hopeless despair kind of point. But so it got me thinking about how in a relationship, one of the most important things (at least for me) is having a partner who can intuit when you want to be talked to for real and when you need to just be placated.

I was talking to a work friend who had just been sick and whose girlfriend is now sick with what he had. He was saying that it was funny because when you’re sick you can’t understand how other people don’t realize you need every whim catered to, but the moment you’re better it’s impossible to sympathize with a sick person’s whining, even with the knowledge that they did it for you just days ago, and also it’s probably your fault they’re sick.

That is one of those situations where you really have to be tuned in to your partner. I, for example, have massive guilt about ever calling in sick, so when I’m not feeling good and debating whether or not to go to work, what I really want is for Frank to say, “Oh no, you are clearly too sick to work. Stay home, you have to, here I will put this cold compress on your poor little noggin.” Instead he usually just shrugs and tells me it’s up to me to figure out how sick I’m feeling.

Which, obviously, is the adult response and completely true. But when I’m not feeling good, I need a little coddling. It takes a while to learn when someone is really asking your opinion on something and when they are just asking you to reassure them in a way that is at least mildly believable. A classic example of this type of question is the dreaded, “Does this make me look fat?”

I have one friend in my life who, despite all of her many wonderful characteristics, is completely unable (or unwilling) to indulge the need for placating reassurance. In my most stressed crazy freakout moments of the last couple of weeks, when a blind, deaf, non-English-speaking stranger would realize that all I wanted was for someone to agree with me that yes, what’s happening to me right now is the worst thing ever, except for cancer and genocide, she instead told stories about how bad her last move was, with the implication that I was brushed off my concerns, or changed the subject to how hard her job was, with the implication that I was being a baby and really needed to sack up.

Which, obviously, was true. But no amount of not sympathizing was going to make me do it. It was going to make me tear her face off in rage, though. Sometimes even normally rational adults just need some freaking kid glove treatment.

It is wonderful and lovely to find someone willing to tell you what you want to hear sometimes. I’ll leave you with that thought, because I have to go and bubble wrap some wine glasses now. I promise, this move is as annoying for me to do as it is for you to hear about. It will all be over soon.