Saturday, 22 November 2008

Compartmentalise me

It made me so sad.

I could not understand this behaviour...

And yet I can - now the male concept of compartmentalisation has been explained to me.

Although that didn't make it hurt any less.

I guess that if the woman you love is with her family, then you throw yourself into other things to try to forget the pain that causes. To contact me now is to remind yourself of what you cannot have so better to put me carefully into a box and bring me out again when I am only a few days away, rather than several weeks.

I know now that you resented my absence and subsconsciously punished me for not being able to be with you.

Women are different. I think about you all the time. I miss you. I spend my days wishing the hours past so I can be with you again. I hold onto that when the shit is hitting the fan all around me. Someone tells me something or I see a programme that makes me laugh and I instantly think to text you to tell you. Even if it's only to wish you goodnight. That's why I found it so hard when there were days and days of silence in the space between my visits.

Sometimes, part of me wished that we were back at the beginning again where you were so driven to contact me all the time.

Another part of me worried that the lack of communication was the beginning of the end. That you had become complacent about the strength of my love for you.

I decided that perhaps it should be over.

Was 43 hours from making it so when you pulled us back from the brink.

And now we both understand compartmentalisation and have tried to replaced it with honesty.

After completing this post but, prior to publishing, I discovered that Lazy Phil had explained this phenomenon from the male perspective.


Semele said...

This can be such a big issue!

Perhaps something that still niggles me is that while us women try and remember that men behave differently and so try not to get upset about things, I suspect that many men don't do the same and thus realise WHY we're upset or pissed off etc.

It's so much harder when the relationship is long-distance and covert, too.

having my cake said...

I think, once the problem is identified, it takes work from both sides to counteract the problem. I have to remember that there will be occasions when there is silence and that I should not panic and overreact. He also has to remember that I need his virtual presence even when he's struggling to deal with my absence.

Kyra said...

I wish I could do it. Maybe things would have been easier for me.

L. said...

I haven't been able to compartmentalize, either. I don't know if it's more commonly a male attribute or not.

Like you, I very much need the virtual presence as well. I wish I didn't. I wish I could neatly forget about it all, just as Titus describes, once I walk in the door of my home. But I can't - and in many ways, I don't want to.

Ro said...

It's not a universally male thing.

I've known women who can compartmentalise like that, to a greater or lesser extent. Me? I can't be like that, not with any great success anyway. And the last time I checked I was definitely male.

As you know, I spend the bulk of my time away from The Beloved and far, far more time with her incommunicado than I'd wish. I do try to keep myself busy but there's nonetheless never a moment when she's far from my thoughts.

On the whole, I prefer to be this way ... but it's still a pain! :)

Lady in red said...

this is such a big issue for me. As much as I try so hard to accept that for Romeo when he is away working he is so engrossed in his work that there is no room for thoughts of me until he comes back.

for me I think about him all the time which is why I have to send him text messages een if it is just to say good night or good morning knowing that it could be days or even weeks before he reads them. It doesn't mean that he doesn't care it just means he is busy. I know all this but still it is hard to live with.

Lionia said...

Oh yes! I don't know about you all, but it seems to me like every man I've ever involved myself with is obsessive about communication until I begin to be interested and reciprocate. Then, suddenly, it's like they don't need to reel you in anymore. And I tend to react by overcompensating in the other direction - as it seems you were about to do as well. OK, when I was ignoring him, he was all over me, so maybe if I just call it quits he'll get interested again. Or at the very least I won't have this unresolved question mark hanging over my head! LOL. And women are not that way in relationships - I have found that when they switch off, it's because they are done. Men seem to like to play this cat and mouse game significantly more than (most) women. Well, I was glad to read your post and find that I am not the only one. Interesting to read the male take, too :).

Redhead Editor said...

I so understand. Your head whirling with reasons for the absence, your mind working over time. We're just wired differently, aren't we? Hugs!

Cate said...

Thank you for writing this. It is such a relief to know that I am not alone in my frustration with compartmentalising!

Cate xxx

Don said...

I'm one of the less common males in that I've learned compartmentalizing, but don't apply it to my relationships. I'll keep my work life separate from my home life (a very good and effective compartmentalization), and I'll keep my old home life (first with my family as a kid and a young man, second with my now ex-wife) separate and distinct from the new life I'm leading now.

I compartmentalize away things that hurt or deserve to be ignored, and for me, love is neither. I want to experience it, even when it's not completely the ideal situation I would like it to be. It helps to recognize that people never truly attain the ideal life, and can only be happy with that which they have while also pushing the boundaries just a bit here and there to make things better. Delicate balancing act, that... Buddhism states that desire is the root of suffering, and on a very simplistic level, it makes a lot of sense.

Suze said...

I'm very much like you, I like to know that he is there even if he can't be physically.

I feel empty and incomplete when he isn't around me. Then I suppose that is what makes women what they are.

We are sensitive creatures and as such require affection, love and attention. After all isn't that what men like about us.

To be any different would be going against the grain for me. I hope you can find a way through this.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Without getting too anthropological about it, I think it ties with with the multi-tasking issue. Men's minds are wired to focus on the matter in hand and everything else either goes onto the back burner or fades into grey. Which is great if you're stalking mammoths but less useful these days. Besides which, most of the women I know are must better hunters than their menfolk.

I won't opine on the mismatch in communication. I've never got that right and probably never will.

Freak At Heart said...

You know that is one of those things. Not all guys are like that. I feel like I am a bit more like you! I use the thoughts, memories of the past, fantasies of future meeting, to get me thorough the mundane time in between! But then again I believe I am a dreamer at heart so I often life in my fantasy world.

Helga Hansen said...

I compartmentalise. Externally, that is. Internally, I am thinking, missing, yearning for, dreaming...

I have to compartmentalise - for my own sanity!!

Evil Minx said...

I *so* hear that. I can't even begin to tell you how much.

And i completely agree with what you said here in comments, about how it takes work from both sides to counteract the problem.

Minxy x

Anonymous said...

What Minxy said. In spades.

Excellent post, Cakey.

Sapphire x