Wednesday, October 2, 2013

how to have genuine conversations

I was at dinner with a friend tonight who has recently started dating someone. After my friend told me all about their special someone, only one thought popped into my head.
"Have you kissed yet?"
My friend looked at me puzzled and said "It always confuses me when that is the first thing that people ask." 
This left me thinking about genuine conversations.

As imperfect humans, it's easy for us to focus on milestones because the script is already written.  "When's your baby due?"
"Have you kissed?"
"When are you getting married?"
"When are you graduating?"
In our heads, we already know the answer to these questions therefore the conversation is comfortable and easy.  We are afraid to have genuine conversations that evolve past the milestones and into the process. No one wants to talk about how your relationship developed to the point that you trusted each other enough to kiss, because that is a more unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable conversation. 
I see this in my own life. I'm often irritated when people ask Mark and I when we are getting married. (*please don't feel bad if you have asked me this!) I never realized why until tonight. The people that ask me this question don't care about the process. They only care enough to scratch the surface and discuss the milestone. I don't feel comfortable discussing the biggest decision of my life with someone who only wants to have the conversation for the sake of filling silence.

So here's the negative to only discussing the milestone instead of the process besides having un- genuine (it's a word! I looked it up!) conversations. 

Life isn't milestones...and even when it is, sometimes those milestones look different than we anticipated.
For example, a woman I know lost her baby this week. He was full term, nine months. Her and her husband were waiting for his arrival any day now with the nursery all set up and the hospital bags packed. Baby boy had his cord wrapped around his neck in utero and died. So why is this so heart breaking? It's not because she can't answer the milestone question "When is your baby due" but it is because the connection she made with her growing son can't continue like she expected it would, the life experience being pregnant with the child of man she loves is different than what they anticipated it would be like, the nights they stayed up talking about the day they have children has to wait longer. That's what makes this hurt so bad. So we can't view life by the milestones. We can't only have conversations about milestones because it is not the whole picture. 

Seek out the genuine conversation. Become comfortable talking about the process because life isn't about the milestones, it's how you get to them.  

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