Reading Between The Lines


cyanide and happiness

I recently got a text from a friend that they’d meant to send to someone else. It was a not very nice thing about me. They had never said this to me. I said “wow. ouch”. They responded “It makes me sound like a bitch, but I love her. I just think it’s post trip annoyance”. I said “No. Ouch because you are talking to me. Great. Thanks”. They had confessed that they were trying to manipulate situations and that they had all these unresolved feelings with their partner and that they’d been upset with me about that.

They finally realized they were talking to me.

They’d never voiced any of his with me. I had no idea they’d been annoyed at anything. I was unaware they were orchestrating situations. All of it. I was oblivious. I thought they just liked to have time alone and kept leaving the group to kinda reset, you know, how introverts do. They had said I was being a “score keeper”.

The score keeper thing stung because very recently I HAD been a score keeper, comparing things people did here and did there and I’d had an insecure bout. (I apologized profusely). I’ve worked it out and have been more diligent about comparing and and it’s paid off. I’m not keeping score and was not in way doing so on our trip.

I sat with that for a bit and reflected and then talked to a friend who was there. I think the person was having her own stuff. My friend hadn’t observed any weirdness in my behavior either and after a bit of gut checking I realize it really wasn’t there. I had no ulterior motives and had been totally real in my feelings and actions. I had not been overly affectionate to anyone or tried to get attention or been glued to anyone. I’d done nothing further than hold hands and exchange light kisses and had spent all of my time with my group and not with any one individual. There’d been lots of opportunity for them to get attention and they actually had gotten a good deal of attention. The person kept leaving and doing separate things, but that hadn’t made the person we share any closer to me. Instead of telling him she needed more time, she tried to just “let me have him”. Had the person simply said what they wanted and needed, they’d have easily had it. This isn’t about me and I don’t have to pick it up. I didn’t have any special alone time with anyone or do anything untoward, regardless of how the person had acted. I just hadn’t noticed and hadn’t reacted. I was enjoying myself and thought everyone else was too.

So we come to tonight. I can be sensitive and supportive and listen and forgive and be kind. We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled with our own emotions at times and let them tell us ugly things that weren’t true. This isn’t about me and my friend. It’s about my friend and their friend. They had feelings they weren’t addressing and needs they weren’t communicating or meeting. They were trying to hold things back and pretending to be pleasing and it was biting them in the ass. Whatever we hold back always comes out sideways. It’s just how it works. Stuff is coming out.

It’s another of those lessons in “say what you want and you just might get it”. Had my friend simply told her honey they needed a walk or a few minutes alone or something they’d have gotten it and all would have been well. I love when I can be reminded of a lesson from the experience of OTHERS now and then. It’s like a freebie. Now, to go mend fences and support my friend.


  1. You’re so nice. Too nice? If you have to be that way to be poly, I would be an instant success :-). I guess we don’t know any other way, other than always being nice. Being a bitch can be so alienating. And all that stuff about holding back and it eventually finding a way out? So very true.


  2. Your friend’s friend isn’t a mind reader. Trust me on that. None of us are. I would hope that your friend would talk to your mutual friend about all of this. Life would be so much easier if we could learn to communicate along these lines — “Hey, can I have 5 minutes? I’d like some fuzzylovey time,” or whatever the particular need is. Now, if the unmet needs are deeper than that, then honest conversation becomes even more vital, else you can get into a situation where you’re constantly throwing away people and relationships for no good reason at all. If there’s real incompatibility, that’s one thing. But to consider throwing away a relationship without communicating? That I just don’t get.


    • I agree that people aren’t mind readers. It was not my place and isn’t my place to interfere, but I did at least encourage my friend enough to tell her partner the truth.

      I don’t understand being willing to hurt someone by breaking their heart and unwilling to hurt them by telling them the truth. We all have our weaknesses though. I’m scared to tell people how much I care about them or what they mean to me at first. I’m so scared that my love or my need or my desire or my depth of feeling will be too much and they will run screaming. I’ve worked on it and worked on it, but I have this core that is so afraid that I will be abandoned and that I am “too much”. It makes me do crazy things like freak out when I tell someone I like them. It’s better than it was but still an area I am working on. It’s just part of me I have to be aware of and deal with and hopefully continue to grow on.

      My friend can’t tell people what she is really feeling or voice her upset feelings. She is afraid to communicate. She wants to be “the easy one” and to be agreeable and simple and undemanding. She stuffs and internalizes. She doesn’t say what she means and thought I didn’t too, and this made her read into situations. I don’t have those ulterior motives and I am oblivious to hints most of the time. I just didn’t get it. I’m a very verbal and upfront person. I almost always address things as they come because I don’t know how to operate otherwise. Letting it lie is not my strong suit. Hopefully we’ve hashed out our stuff and hopefully she’ll do the same in her other relationships. I don’t think we’ve talked about all of it yet, but I understand it may take her time to do that. It’s her weak area. I have mine.

      I was happy that I was able to not make worse or take it personally. The grievances she listed weren’t anything I was thinking or doing. They were her interpretations. I tried to listen and clarified what I could. She quickly said it wasn’t about me without me having to say so. I stayed out of her relationships with others except to encourage her again to talk to them about the things that are coming up for her because things are coming out sideways.

      I offered reassurance and she began to talk about some of what was really bothering her. I hope it’s not an incompatability. I hope it is just things that she needs to process and talk about and I hope that she will. I’ll offer support as I can and whatever reassurance or encouragement I can and I’ll work hard to keep my side of the street clean. What else can you do?


  3. My boyfriend’s wife is just like that. She hardly ever communicates her needs, just expects them to be met by dropping little hints and when she doesn’t get what she wants or needs, it’s someone else’s fault. It’s very frustrating and makes an already complicated situation just a little bit harder to deal with. I’ve been trying to work with her on it bit by bit, and she’s getting a *little* better. When I see her starting to drop her hints, I push her to openly say what she wants an so far it’s working. Hopefully we can keep up the progress.


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