Not picking fights with a man means not picking fights with ANY of the men in my life, which is harder to do than I thought. Take, for instance, this morning. My friend/writing partner Matthew’s first novel Nightlife debuts in October. This has caused a lot of contention between us, mostly because I think his agent got him a shoddy deal. But yesterday, on Twitter, he posted the cover, and I was annoyed that he hadn’t shown it just to me first.
But because it’s the week that it is, I’m not going to say anything about it (also, he doesn’t read this blog, so this isn’t some passive-aggressive way of telling him my feelings are hurt). Instead, I tried to figure out what it was that was bothering me about it and decided it was a combination of wanting to feel special (i.e. total entitlement) and the continuing fear that this means he’s in a different world than me, as a published novelist, and that he no longer needs me as a friend and a partner. He’s got the whole world to show off to, so my fear is that he no longer needs me.
These are small, petty things, I understand. But if I were to tell him, he would freak out, probably snap at me, and then we’d have this hour-long argument. So I’m taking Arlene’s advice to heart on this matter–just keep my lips zipped and try to be as supportive as possible. He can’t read my mind, and I don’t blame him for wanting to tell as many people as possible. It’s awesome news, and I’m proud of him. He’s worked hard, and he’s earned this. And when it debuts on Oct. 21st, I want all of you to buy a copy.
In not arguing with him, I found that I was able to 1) Sort out my own dumb feelings and 2) Remind myself that he really is important to me, and that instead of trying to drag him down to how lame I feel, I should be lifting him up in his moment of glory. George Saunders preached kindness to the 2013 Syracuse University graduates at commencement earlier this year, and that’s what the world needs more off-not petty bitching over little things because we are each the centers of our own universe and everyone else’s lives revolve around us.
PS: This doesn’t just apply to men, BTW.
Men tend to downplay things and then wait for something to explode. The problem I find is broaching a subject that is actually important as opposed to the “little things.” It’s tough to reason with people when they are on cruise control. Then you find yourself making compromises. For people who aren’t selfish by nature it’s difficult to stake out a firm position in these matters. That’s when little things become big things.