Whatever You Want, Babe.

My catch phrase when I started dating J was “I dunno, what do you want to do?” It was a small part indecision, but an even bigger part not wanting to demand space. Here are a few examples of how you miss an opportunity to connect when you say whatever you want instead of expressing your opinion.

Let’s imagine that you’re having a conversation with your significant other about something that is emotionally important. Where you’ll celebrate Christmas, how you’ll celebrate Christmas, if you’ll spend time with one group of friends or another group of friends, or if you’ll vacation someone in particular. When your partner asks “what do you think about ______?” they are, often, really asking you what you think. This opens up an opportunity to connect with your partner about your feelings and opinions on things that are important. Let’s break down two conversations to see the difference.

You: What do you want to do for Christmas?

Them: Whatever you want, babe.

You: What do you want to do for Christmas?

Them: I’d love to see your family, but I’d also really love to see my family too. I feel like I don’t get much time to sit and just be with my family like I did when I was younger. I’d also really like to spend some time with just you. We could plan to get away for the day together between our family obligations.

There is a big distinction here. In the second block quote one partner is expressing a desire to connect and build. In the first block quote they are suggesting an indifference to what happens. This is unfortunate because often times this may be said simply because one partner wants to please the other partner. There is the assumption that they’ll be (and the situation will be) more easy going if they simply step back.

This can influence our relationships in other ways as well. Take the simple example of going out for dinner.

You: What do you want to do for dinner?

Them: Whatever you want, babe.

Versus:

You: What do you want to do for dinner?

Them: I’ve been really wanting to try out that new thai place we haven’t been to yet. Would you want to do that tonight?

This does the same thing as a more emotionally important conversation – it helps you connect to your partner by exchanging information. Your partner likes thai food. They want to try this new place. But it does something else, too. It reminds you that a relationship is a partnership. It’s good to let your partner pick and choose, but it’s not good to let your opinions and desire fall to the wayside. Does thai food sound goddamn horrible to you? Do you really fucking want some sushi? Did you spend all day thinking about sushi?

In the past few years I’ve gotten so much better at expressing my thoughts, feelings, and opinions (probably to some mild dismay, wink) and have tried to strike a conscious balance between going places I want to go, going places he wants to go, and making compromises midway if one person really has a craving.

For more emotionally serious conversations, I continue to ask myself this question: what do I want to do? What would make me the happiest? It seems silly, but it’s important to ask ourselves these questions over and over and over again. Life moves quickly and if we blink we might miss our chance to help guide it along its way.

What do you think?

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