It’s often discussed. I like to put on a sunny facade but behind closed doors I go in for the most tragicomic behaviors of a relationship. A sulk1 typically starts over a disappointment –most often over an objectively rather small matter. Jackiea didn’t ask me how my day was. Jackie forgot to notice my new haircut. Jackie wasn’t paying me enough attention at the party.
But what follows isn’t an argument. It’s an eerie silence. A domestic cold-war where inquiries as to “what’s wrong?” are met with by one resolute stony word ‘NOTHING’.
Why don’t I tell my lover what’s upsetting me? After all, I explain so many things to so many people in the course of my life.
Well, I don’t explain because of a peculiar assumption about the nature of love (Love means not spell everything out). Even people who are very good with words might not when they’re with their lover be in the mood to explain very much. Where does this commitment silence come from?
It began when I first learnt about love; when I was tiny I couldn’t and didn’t need to make my intentions known directly to those I loved me best, they knew what I wanted to eat just like that, they made sure I was comfortable. They took the trouble to guess what I wanted. This gave me a template, but deeply unhelpful one about what adult love might be like.
In the early days of a new relationship there are some blissful moments when me and her understand each other without needing to say very much; we magically agree on things, we sense a connection unlike any other. But this is ultimately very misleading. In truth I am as an adult bafflingly complicated. To expect someone to understand me long-term without me having to explain is equivalent to expecting someone to work out how nuclear fission2 works simply by looking at the outside of a power station. For one not to understand this without explanation is no sign he/she is evil, just that he/she is human.
For the lovers out there (me inclusive); before retreating into a sulk we should always do our partners the honor of a small seminar. Part of love means accepting the need to teach others in kind and patient ways about who we are. At the same time, when we unwittingly unleash a sulk we should realize that the sulker is being stranger in silent not because they are mean but because at they are scared. They may be big and competent in many areas yet inside they must be feeling like a defenseless baby in the hands of someone who seems not to know who to look after them.
The greatest gift we can give our lovers are explanations as calms as we make them using lots of words about what we are truly like in all a madness complexity and strangeness.
- 1: It’s made up with two things; Disappointment and a deep-seating refusal to explain what the disappointment is about.
- 2: The main process generating nuclear Radioactive decay of both fission products and transuranic elements formed in a reactor yield heat even after fission has ceased.
- a: A name of a girl, not that I have a Jackie in my life, no! just trying to stretch the point.