How do you come across when you talk to your partner? Are you snarky and uncaring? Dismissive perhaps? Sometimes, such quips result from bad habits or laziness and other times it’s lack of caring. There’s enormous power in words as they carry an unspoken message and can be misunderstood at great loss to those involved.
When you talk with someone your words are capable of lifting them up or shutting them down. Words can hang in the air for what seems an eternity only to eventually fade but the damage may already be done. The wound has been felt in the other and lingers until the next time.
Words–those simple everyday things we use to express ourselves–need to be acknowledged for their power.
Whoever wrote the childhood ditty “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me…” had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.
A bruise on your arm heals much faster than a piercing barb or dismissive chat.
Have you ever listened to someone as they speak to you but not really hear them? Perhaps your own thoughts bang viciously within your head but remain unspoken? Why is that? Is there a fear to express your response or perhaps a politeness that doesn’t want to compete or engage?
Auntie wants you to think about the way you chat with your friends and significant other. Sometimes, it’s what’s said that gets lost, misinterpreted, or flings unintended hurtful contempt that cuts deep, but other times, it what’s not said.
Now, I want you all to understand that the conversations I’m referring to are those within relationships. These are examples of problems and misunderstanding that can easily be corrected if wanted. Read the advice and observations as a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I’m sure a few of you have heard these words before.
"Do you want me to come with you?" "You can come if you want..."
This type of response may not mean anything to the person saying it, but it speaks volumes to the person receiving the message. It shows a lack of caring and disregard for the other person. Look at this in contrast.
"Do you want me to come with you?" "Yes, I want you come with me."
Can you see the difference? Can you feel the difference? If you can’t then I want you to go back and read it over and over again until you do.
Here’s another one.
Let’s say you’re with your significant other. You start the conversation.
"I'm getting hungry, how about you?" you ask. "Meh," a shrug. "Do you wanna grab something to eat?" "I don't care."
This is a loaded conversation of what is said and more importantly what’s not.
First off, the initial question isn’t even answered. It’s shrugged off rudely and a message is sent–I don’t care enough about you to even consider answering. With further probing the response is then upped to “I don’t care.” Whoa…..there’s big trouble here.
This kind of response is immature and beyond ignorant. (Yes, you heard me right. It’s ignorant. How does it make you feel when someone says that to you? Seriously. Ask yourself and be honest.)
When you say “I don’t care” you’re telling everyone that the person you’re with, is not worthy of you making a decision and you don’t give a flying f**k about anyone but yourself. Often it’s this type of response that will later be followed up with … hey, I wasn’t the one who made that decision or why did you chose this dump.
When you say I don’t care it’s dismissive and indicates that you care but only about yourself. You’ll be the first one to bitch about the choice made by another and you’ll be the first to lay blame and cast doubt on someone else. Not good.
If you’re so bored with life that you can’t take the time and energy to answer the question then I don’t feel sorry for you. No respect. Grow up. A better answer to the question above would have been something like let’s wait about a half hour and then find something, okay? or even to say I don’t mind either way is better than I don’t care.
In this kind of situation you also have to watch for signs of gaslighting where a partner may be manipulating your responses and using them against you. If conversations are getting to the point of abusive then get out of the relationship as soon as you can. It’s very unhealthy to stay in a manipulative relationship.
Get those three little words: “I Don’t Care” out of your vocabulary. They’re dismissive and don’t paint you in a good light.
The other answer that plays a close second to “I don’t care” is “it doesn’t matter.”
"Do you wanna go to a movie?" "Yeah, whatever..." "Okay. What do you wanna see?" "It doesn't matter." "Do you wanna go for pizza first?" "I don't care." I'd say this relationship is currently being dragged along the ground in search of a place to bail.
Sometimes, it’s the absence of the spoken word…
About ten years ago a friend of mine split up from her hubby. They’d been married for over eight years. I asked her why she left. She said there’d been a lot of fighting and words were said but when she packed her bags and he just watched her leave.
“He never asked me to stay,” she said.
Consider these wise words by renowned poet Maya Angelou. Words are powerful. Never doubt it.
Words are powerful and really do cut both ways. If you’re involved in a relationship then communication is key. If you’re at a point where it’s breaking down, then seek some help, but in the interim, learn how your responses affect the other or how the lack of words can also be as shattering. You’re not alone and you’re not going crazy. Reach out.
Thanks for reading.