Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Guide to Dating an Emotional Girl


Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am a highly emotional girl.
{this is where the rest of the support group says "hi" in their sad we're-in-a-support-group voice}

For the longest time, I actually denied this fact about myself.
I denied it not just to other people, but even for a long time, to myself. I thought {and acted like} it said something terrible about me. It made me weak, or inconvenient, or whatever bad adjective about a person you can think of. 
For a long time, I felt like being emotional meant I was like my father: batshit crazy.

That might sound silly to a lot of you, but when you grow up with someone who expresses every emotion he has in the unhealthiest ways possible, and always takes everything to the extreme, you realize one day that you don't know where the line is between healthy emotion, and unhealthy, so you just start considering it all bad, and act like none of it's there. Just to be safe. Just so you never become like that.

But, that's completely unrealistic. There's no way that I could live my whole life expressing no emotion, and even if I could, why the hell would I want to? One of the best feelings in the world is getting all lovey over my kids or Bill, crying at movies or laughing my ass off at stupid things.
And when you're completely overwhelmed, a good long cry is just the ticket sometimes to make you feel a little better.

Emotions are good.

But, like I said, I am highly emotional. 
I don't live life on the surfaces of emotion, maintaining a middle ground baseline where things are usually just OK. I live in the heights and the depths, and everything in between. I feel things deeply, and I usually express them openly. 
There are upsides and downsides to this.
One of the downsides being, I sometimes cry over silly things. I sometimes get upset about things and can't let them go right away.
I sometimes {brace yourself Bill} get upset over things that don't really matter, because I'm reacting off the initial emotion that the situation triggered, or I'm overflowing with emotion from other areas of my life and it all spills out in one place, on one person.
Needless to say, dating me isn't the easiest mission to accomplish.

So, for those of you out there who are dating a highly emotional girl, or are a highly emotional girl, or are my boyfriend in particular, here are some helpful hints to dealing with someone like me, on days when we're a little less awesome than usual, and a little more Lifetime movie-Meryl Streep impression.

1. It's highly recommended that you keep bits of chocolate with you at all times. {Note to Bill: I like dark chocolate} Toss these little treats out whenever frustration begins to build and spill over for no apparent reason. It won't fix anything per se, but it will help defuse a rapidly rising incident. 

2. Have a sense of humor. That doesn't mean laugh at your girlfriend while she's crying in the middle of Target. It means helping her see the humor in the fact that she's crying in Target. 

3. More than likely, if she's truly upset, all she really wants is for you to hold her and listen. Wipe her tears and tell her you understand and that you can see why what she's going through would be difficult. Don't give advice. Don't try to fix it or downplay what's happening in an attempt to help her see that it's "not so bad". This feels like you're invalidating her feelings. Even if you don't get it, this is real to her.

4. Remind her that you're on her side. And that you love her.

5. There are going to be days where she needs some extra love. If you give it to her, I guarantee she'll give it back to you when you need it.

6. Sometimes, tears will flow over silly things. Hunger, frustration over a million little things not going right, exhaustion, or just being overwhelmed. Small gestures in an attempt to lighten the load go a long way. 
For example: I used to have a friend who knew what I liked to eat and what I didn't. When I had a hunger emergency, she knew not to give me 20 options of places to eat. Instead she'd ask if there was anything I wouldn't eat, then just pick a place out of her remaining options. If I was exceptionally frustrated, she'd even suggest something to order for me like "How about a number 5, you like those" and I'd usually agree.
{note to Bill: bribery with food and coffee is usually highly effective}

7. Let her get it out. Don't interrupt. Don't take it personally if it's about you. She's venting, but at least she's talking. If you shut her down or cut her off or make her feel like she's said something wrong, she will shut down, turn inwards and lock you out. Not. Good. I really can't emphasize enough how important it is to just hold her, and listen. All of her emotions might come out in one big messy ball of incomprehensible, but at least she got it out, and now she can sort through it.

8. Be patient, and remind her to be patient with you too. I know it can sometimes feel like nothing you're doing is helping, but trust me, just being there helps. You don't need to fix this, you just need to be there, and be supportive and sweet.  Some well placed compliments or verbal affection, mixed with some quiet cuddling and some sincere empathy, are really all that's needed if she's willing to talk.

9. If she's not talking, and instead seems to be picking a fight, try to remember fighting isn't her goal. She needs to get something off her chest, she just can't find a good opening to do it.
Or she has nothing to get off her chest, and she's just grumpy and doesn't realize that you're taking her mood seriously. In that case, if lightening the mood doesn't help, tell her, without sounding defensive if possible {side eye: Bill} how what she's doing is making you feel. She's emotional, feelings are what she understands so speak her language.

10. And now for some helpful words and phrases: 

"What's really bothering you? Are you really mad that I ate the pickle off your plate, or is it something else?"

 "Of course Unicorns exist, and I totally ordered you one on Amazon today. Should be here in five to seven business days." 

 "I hear you, I know a lot of little things are bothering you right now. What's the biggest thing that's weighing on you?" 

"Do you want some ice cream?" 

"You look really pretty today. And you smell nice." 

"I never think about anyone else when I masturbate. Not even Jessica Alba."

 "I love you. I know you're stressed out and upset, but I'm here for you. Tell me what you need" {Bill is really good at this one, but I'm usually to proud and stubborn to tell him what I need. I'm working on that, but in the meantime, Bill, just keep asking.}

It's not always easy dating someone who's emotional or sensitive. Things will be more intense, sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. But one upside to dating someone who's emotional is that they feel more deeply about you too.  There will be no shortage of passion. They will love you stronger, kiss you harder, and do anything to be there for you when you need them, because they understand better than anyone what it is to need someone. 

And even though she might cry when she's overwhelmed, or tired, or hungry, you will also see her eyes fill up with tears when you present yourself on bended knee to ask her to marry you, or when she holds the baby the two of you made together for the first time, or when she thinks about how much she loves you.
And she might be furious that you lied about something small, or that you forgot her birthday, or were insensitive at a time when she needed you to be warm and loving, but she will also fight like hell for your relationship, for your love, and she will defend you against the world, as fiercely as she defends herself when she's upset. 

At the end of the day, it's about acceptance, understanding, and above all, love. Genuine love, that knows happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length, love that is willing to put up with girls like us at our worst, in order to be with us at our best.

No comments:

Post a Comment