It's very important that the man I date be able to take a compliment. Or at least not reject one. Prior to Naval A-Hole, I didn't mind a humble guy who responded to my "You're wonderfuls" with a bashful, "Aww, shucks...no I'm not."
But Naval A-hole pretty much killed that for me. When he and I were in the thick of our whirlwind, long distance relationship, I was so giddy with his very existence, that I had to tell him as often as possible.
"You are so sweet."
"You are so considerate."
"You are the kindest person."
All that crap. It suited his appearance too. He looked like an angel - blonde hair, blue eyes, innocent chubby cheeks and the polite mannerisms of a Naval officer. He was the Good Samaritan boyfriend I was proud to call my own.
I never paid attention to his protestations at these compliments. They were more direct than "Aww, shucks" actually. More like, "No, really. I'm not as nice as you think I am."
I look back at that now and shudder. He was straight out telling me who he was. I just chose not to hear it.
So now I'm more cautious. It took me a little bit longer to feel so mushy-gushy about Wine Guy. But when I finally started to and told him so, the response I got (several times) felt like a punch in the stomach with an ice cold fist. "No, really. I'm not all that nice."
I let that simmer for a few weeks and last night I finally got the guts to straight out ask him exactly what he meant by that. The answer was nothing shocking. We all don't live up to our own ideals and Wine Guy is no exception. But what really came out of that conversation (yet again) was how heavy my baggage still is. It sucks.
I also think about something my mom has told me a few times over the years. She is a therapist and said she has seen this time and time again with couples in counseling and it never ceases to amaze her. I now take it to heart as it applies not just to Naval A-hole but to Only Child too (who repeatedly told me he was highly doubtful he would ever want to get married and have children - something I chose to not hear for six years).....
Men generally tell you exactly what's going on. Women just choose not to hear it.
So here is my plea to all of my fellow Troopers out there: Start Listening. Even if you don't want to hear it. Better yet, know the questions you need to ask, ask them straight, and be damn well prepared to hear - and act upon- the answer.