Developing emotional intimacy with someone can be daunting, especially when that someone isn’t a veteran English educator who taught you during your formative teenage years. But don’t panic! Obviously your man will never measure up to the woman singlehandedly responsible for your love of language, but that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Here’s how to get vulnerable with your guy even though he isn’t – and never will be – as amazing as your high school English teacher.
Schedule time to talk.
No one likes to feel rushed when they’re trying to let their guard down! Ask your man to choose a time that’s good for him. A good time for you would’ve been when you were on the cusp of adulthood, eyes newly opened to the majesty of this cruel yet beautiful world by a seasoned English instructor with a heart of gold and an eye for metaphor, but “after the gym” works too!
Cut to the chase.
Communicate your needs clearly — he’s no mind reader! Sure, your English teacher knew without asking that what you needed most during those fragile years was a sense of security. And yes, eating in her classroom during lunch gave you the stability you needed to become the person you are today. But maybe if you explicitly tell your guy you’re cold, he’ll lend you a jacket or something. Um, Disney prince alert?!
Keep an open mind.
Just because he’s never praised your original poetry in a way that made you feel uniquely seen and appreciated doesn’t mean he’s incapable of being a supportive partner! Give him a chance to be your cheerleader by reciting some lines from a poem your English teacher once called “really something.” He may not get that it’s an allegory for your parents’ contentious divorce, but maybe he’ll be like, “Great job, babe!”
Choose your words wisely.
Statements starting with “you” may put your guy on the defensive, so try sharing your concerns using neutral I-statements. Lead with “I am feeling a loss of connection between us,” instead of “You could never hold a candle to the maturity nor grace modeled for me by the unforgettable woman whose literary selections unlocked a vast world of wonder henceforth unknown to me.”
It can feel impossible to open up a dialogue with someone who didn’t introduce you to the tragedy and splendor of The Great Gatsby, but that’s totally natural! Keep these tips in mind the next time you need to get real with your partner. And if you’re still struggling to let your walls down around your man, consider dumping him and pursuing a relationship with your actual high school English teacher. Your mom ran into her at the grocery last week and she totally asked about you!! Good luck, girl!