This past Friday marks the third week of a room I began on the Clubhouse app, called “Sex in Relationships 👀”
The topic, as you may be able to guess, was ‘Conversations with your Lover’.
My heart is so warm because there were people from various generations who came on stage to share their viewpoints and offer a token of their wisdom.
After 2 hours of moderating, listening, and sharing my own story in full transparency, I learned 2 key things:
- It matters how I communicate with the men in my life.
- Give gentle feedback by reinforcing the positives.
How I communicate with the men in my life, matters.
I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever heard this concept explained the way I heard and understood it during this conversation on Clubhouse. But what I do know is, it stirred a flurry of questions in me...
- What are the patterns I show when talking to men?
- How do I talk to my dad?
- How have I spoken to past boyfriends?
- Was I aggressive in pointing out their flaws?
- Was I just as aggressive in offering them praise where I was thoroughly surprised and pleased?
- How do I speak to new men I meet?
- Do I treat new men differently from men that have been in my life for years?
- Is this a sign that I don’t value the men in my life as much as I think I do?
- Would men in my life say they feel I am a safe space for them?
These are such deep questions, but each of them is rooted in how I may have made men in my life feel when I've spoken to them.
There is a huge societal pressure put on men starting from when they are young boys. A pressure that says they should not feel and when they do, it should be harsh aggression. So, several men have a plethora of unhealthy outlets, but how many healthy ones do they have? And am I one of them or do I add to that pressure that's already boiling over?
I have been told by various people that I have a very direct delivery when I communicate and that my tone is very matter of fact. So, how do I approach a situation where I need to inform a man in my life that his actions or words are somehow harming or displeasing me, while also not inflicting pain that builds a mountain high barricade between us.
The visual I see in my mind is of a man I claim to love needing a safe space to lay his head, but I start throwing bricks at him while he’s unarmed. Surely, his wall of protection go up in response because he feels attacked, but will it ever come back down (for me or for someone else)? I guess, that depends on the damage done and whether anyone will ever make space for him to heal.
But this is what brings me to my second takeaway from the discussion... gentle feedback.
Give gentle feedback by reinforcing the positives
I have been told, by previous coworkers, that I sometimes say things in a disrespectful tone, or in a way that says I have a distasteful attitude with the person I’m currently speaking to.
Now, when they mentioned this to me, it was very hard to understand what they meant by ”tone.” It’s also worth noting that I found it extremely difficult to recollect what I said and how I was feeling when I said it since these people did not bring this information to my attention at the moment in which it happened.
I don’t know about you, but I can easily forget what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone remember what may have been to me, a normal conversation, which happened weeks, months, or years ago!
To this point, I think it’s very important to give men, and honestly all people, in the moment feedback and continue to reinforce it over time with repetition. By bringing attention to something seconds after it happens, all parties involved have an opportunity to take notes. If the party that was hurt is the only one taking notes, the offender lives their life in ignorance of your pain and has infinite future opportunities to continue inflicting said pain.
In the case of having conversations with lovers who are men, one way to acknowledge average or negative behavior is to overtly emphasize your happiness with their positive behaviors.
By giving kind feedback that focuses on the positive aspects of what a man has done, his adventure and journey toward successfully fulfilling a role of stature, confidence, and identity remain intact.
It’s like throwing the first pillow, instead of a brick, when a man I love is unarmed. His wall stays down and he’s more likely to draw me closer into his love as I draw him closer into mine.
After pondering this concept, I propose that over time the positive feedback will build an arsenal of things a man can do to make the person they care for happy.
If this is too difficult for you to wrap your head around, think of it as a game. But for this positive reinforcement game to work, you must first understand your role as the guide. You set the tone for the relationship. I have the power to set the tone for the relationships I have with men in my life. Am I using this power wisely, with positive influence? Are you?