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Hard to Open, Hard to Close, and Hard to Send - Communication Styles

Some people (like yours truly) are talkers - they show interest by sharing the everyday and mundane in any format available to them (phone calls, texts, emails, long talks). Others like an occasional big communication spree but want some time between them - they like hours or a day or two of space and then a large talk or text conversation or phone call, or negotiation of how a relationship will go. Still more want a longer amount of time - they need a week or even more of space between certain kinds of conversations - or they need longer if it’s a more sensitive conversation and less when it’s lighter, and don’t like having more of the lighter conversation beyond every couple days because they don’t feel it adds to the connection more frequently than that.

This reminds me of what my sister and I call the theory of “mail inertia” - what happens when we’re trying to get letters into the mail and opened and dealt with - it’s “hard to open, hard to close, and hard to send.” Writing birthday letters, thank you notes, condolence messages, get well soons, messages of love and anniversary cards? Easy. Getting them into an envelope and sealed? Harder for some people. (She struggles with that step- it’s hard to “get it closed” for her. She’s the takes a month to talk person because of how long it takes to get started in the first place. I usually make it to getting them sealed, but then finding where we’ve put the stamps and into the mailbox is where I get stuck. In mail, I’m the taking a week.) But once you overcome the mail inertia - once communication starts - it’s usually pretty smooth sailing. Responses are easy. Folks get your card and call you back because they thought it was sweet or send a text and now you’re rolling on a conversation. Great. It’s just figuring out a speed. Unless… Inertia strikes again and “hard to open” kicks you back to needing space. Because sometimes a conversation is too big, and like mail from somewhere you don’t want to look at, or being too tired and letting it pile up - conversations can be “hard to open.”

All of this means that sometimes you just need to check in with each other that a period of silence is a letter in the mail - or someone searching for a stamp for their thought - or the thought sitting on the counter as someone pulls it all together from a hard week at work before they manage a conversation. It’s almost never personal. It’s very hard sometimes if you’re a share-all-thoughts chatterbox to have someone need space to digest and to take space in general from communication, but it can be really important for your own growth to learn to address the feelings that brings up. Respecting the boundaries of the person who needs space while trying to look at what it is you’re getting out of sharing a particular piece of information or set of thoughts can be a positive experience of figuring out which part of your needs you’re meeting, so you and your partner can compromise appropriately between you on how best to manage communication within your boundaries. Despite the inertia of communication, like mail, sometimes being hard to open and close.


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