Sometimes We're Done Before We've Even Gotten Going
We all inherently know whether someone's motive is above-board, or not. The first sentence gives it away by one's body language, tone of voice, word choice (especially "you" behaviors rather than "me" feelings), and intent to be on the same side (i.e., win-win). Without the felt sense of safety (putting the relationship first - always!) expect the conversation to die out or escalate as each person drops into a fight-or-flight response!
Your Next Best Steps
- Never start a conversation when you're emotionally flooded! Run your story through your mind and if it still holds an emotional charge (usually frustration, irritation, annoyance, or anger) then you're not yet ready to have a discussion. Wait 24 - 48 hours before having your discussion.
- Own your story. It helps to discuss issues in terms of senses (what did you see/hear) rather than the story you've attached to it. If you're truly brave, you can reveal both. For example, your significant other has gotten a text from an old girlfriend (you've seen the texts), but the story you're telling yourself is that they're seeing each other (your story). Start the conversation by exploring just the facts, and allowing for him to explain his story. You can choose to tell your story as well ("I saw that your old girlfriend texted you, and the story that I'm telling myself it that you and her are seeing each other again"). Since you don't know the truth, it should be a discussion starting solely from the observed text messages.
- If you're off track at the beginning, simple stop, declare a time out for you (or the other person) to work on calming down the emotions, then agree to get together at a later time.
Photo - Creative Commons (Funk Dooby "Starting Line")