Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 19, 2010

Marla could not listen to Monte’s disappointment with her, such that Marla had to take the drastic measure of  “breaking-up.” Similarly, Leslie, a thirty-five year old single, heterosexual, never married woman, was invited on a three-day  sailing trip with her lesbian friends, Roni and Susan. Roni wanted the three of them to have some fun together. Two weeks before they were about to leave, the three of them saw their mutual friend, Madeline. Roni told Madeline about the sailing trip, thinking aloud that the four of them might have fun as well, but she did not think that Madeline would be interested. After this, Leslie pursued Madeline with the hopes that she could join them. Madeline agreed to come, telling Roni that she was coming. The logistics were not clear. Roni thought that a lot of issues still had to be ironed out, but she also understood that Leslie might feel like a third wheel, and Madeline coming might help. On the other hand, Roni wanted time to think about this change of plans. Roni talked to Leslie. Leslie apologized for taking it upon herself to campaign for Madeline to come. . Roni was still uneasy. Roni wanted to talk to Leslie about her concerns. Leslie reluctantly listened. A few hours later, Roni realized that there were more things that were unsettling her about this upcoming trip. She called Leslie again. At this point, Leslie said “I can’t talk about this any more. I am not going.” Roni then called Madeline and told her that Leslie is not going, so Madeline also decided not to go.

Roni needed Leslie to listen. Leslie did listen, but she grew tired. In the end, everyone’s feelings were hurt. Leslie felt rejected. Roni felt pushed away. Madeline and Susan were disappointed about how the plans changed. Leslie felt she had apologized so there was nothing else to talk about. Roni appreciated the apology, but Roni wanted to ask  Leslie what she was feeling which made her campaign for Madeline to come. Roni felt there was a misunderstanding between a group trip, where a varied group of people get together, as opposed to an intimate three days with close friends. In an intimate trip, each person shapes the experience. In a group trip, like an organized tour, the people in the group learn to get along as they go. Managing expectations is the key to enjoying the experience. Roni knew that so she tried to talk to Leslie about Leslie’s thinking. By contrast, Leslie felt that talking about the trip was exhausting. She felt that going sailing should not be such a “big deal”. Leslie was confused about Roni’s persistence. Roni felt that if she did not try to talk about the upcoming trip, then tempers might flare once they set sail  and that would be worse. Leslie and Roni could no longer listen to one another, even though they did initially. The relationship suffered a blow. Roni felt like Monte. She wanted to say “you don’t have to agree with me, but could you please just listen to what I have to say?” Leslie was saturated. No, would be the answer.  Communication broke down. Leslie and Roni are “broken-up”, at least for now. Listening is hard. Not listening is hard too.

4 Responses to “Listening”

  1. Shelly said

    If the friendship is worth saving, I think all of them should speak about it when anger cools and hurt feelings are soothed. One can always look back and see what went right or wrong.

    Sure it’s hard to listen, but if you care about the individual, then listening shows that you do. If you do not care, well, then the relationship can go by the wayside, and even listening won’t help.

    • The problem is that when the anger cools, sometimes a “crust” forms in which case the person who wants to “talk it out” (in this case Roni) rolls up into a ball. Leslie is too raw to “talk it out” so when she is ready, it may not coincide with the time when Roni is in need. Timing is critical. Not easy!

  2. Suzi said

    Oh Shriah, I so dislike politics! So rediculous/un-necessary and totally annoying.

    Relationships are hard whether listening/hearing ones or not.

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