“We need to talk.”
That’s how you start a fair amount of conversations with your boyfriend when you feel like he’s done something wrong. And, more often than not, that phrase is followed by one of two things:
You lose steam after the first sentence and never end up telling him what’s on your mind
You launch into a string of incoherent accusations that make it hard for him to understand what exactly you’re mad about.
Now, I think we can agree that neither of these is a very effective way to address a relationship problem. Unless, of course, the problem was that you both were a little too good at communication. But unless you’re dating Dr. Phil, that’s probably not the issue. And, if you are dating Dr. Phil, there are definitely many, many other issues that need to be addressed.
Regardless of what talk show host you may or may not be dating, you need to work out your relationship woes in a clear, effective manner. And the best way to do that is to articulate to your man what it is that you feel he’s done wrong.
And so, in an effort to maximize efficiency and minimize the amount of time I’ll hear you talk about how your boyfriend isn’t getting the point, I’ve constructed this basic framework for how a talk with your man should go. I call it…
Scad Dibs, Vol. 1
It’s actually a lot like Mad Libs, except without the copyright infringement. Just take a look.
(Name) , there’s something that we really should talk about.
You remember last (period of time) , when you (offensive action – past tense) ? Well that made me feel really (negative feeling) .
That you could do something like that makes me (ruminatory verb) that/like (accusatory statement about him being a bad boyfriend) .
I know you probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I just had to let you know how it made me feel. And if (pronoun) want (positive verb statement – infinitive) , then (same pronoun) have to (statement – command structure) . Okay?
Confused about how it works? Well I’ve included an example below for you to see it in action. See how this basic framework allows Jane to express her feelings about her boyfriend’s hurtful actions.
John , there’s something that we really should talk about.
You remember last night , when you lied about having homework so you could hang out with your friends ? Well that made me feel really hurt .
That you could do something like that makes me feel like you think I’m a killjoy that doesn’t want you to have fun unless it’s with me .
I know you probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I just had to let you know how it made me feel. And if we want to make our relationship work , then we have to be honest about our feelings and feel comfortable telling each other what we want to do . Okay?
Think this won’t work for your particular situation? Well it’s actually quite versatile. See how Kat tells her man what’s really on her mind:
Patrick , there’s something that we really should talk about.
You remember last month , when you made a deal with the guy I hate for him to pay you to date me so that he could try to bone my sister ? Well that made me feel really betrayed .
That you could do something like that makes me think that you never actually liked me in the first place and were just using me to make a quick buck .
I know you probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I just had to let you know how it made me feel. And if you want to continue to have a fully-functioning penis , then you have to never do something that insensitive again . Okay?
And listen to how Angela makes her feelings perfectly clear:
Dwight , there’s something that we really should talk about.
You remember last week , when you killed my cat ? Well that made me feel really grief-stricken and terrified .
That you could do something like that makes me think that you are a devil incarnate sent to test the faith of the true believers .
I know you probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I just had to let you know how it made me feel. And if you want to not have a restraining order against you , then you have to refrain from murdering any more harmless and beloved animals . Okay?
It’s that simple!
Yes, the key to any functional relationship is communication. So when you have something you want to discuss, make sure you’ve figured out the main points you need to get across so that your man isn’t left scratching his head.
And if you’re having trouble, just consult Scad Dibs for a tried and true start to an open and honest conversation.
Good luck, and God bless.