Do you remember the last time someone said “Let’s drop this subject”? They may have said “I don’t want to talk about this any more,” “Let’s revisit this later,” or “Maybe now isn’t the best time for this conversation.”
You probably said “OK,” but you probably also said something. “OK. I just really don’t think you should drive above speed limit,” “Ok, I am sorry, but I just don’t agree with you” or “OK, but I think you misunderstood what I meant.”
Just “OK.” That’s the only acceptable answer because what they really mean when they say “Let’s drop this subject” is “I’m feeling unsafe.”
Each couple (or a pair of friends or colleagues) have a unique style of communication. But one thing is shared by everyone. There is no couple, no matter how honest and successful their relationship may be, where both feel completely safe 100 % of the time. Some people, whose partner most likely earned this by building trust over many incidents and years, may be able to push through feeling unsafe each time they do. This is an extremely rare case. Even in the most seasoned couples, especially the most seasoned couples, they may choose to reset the conversation into a different place, different time, and different mindset once they feel vulnerable. Asking for the topic to be dropped because you feel unsafe is not a cop-out. It is a considerate, kind, and effective relationship strategy.
Now, we tend to throw the last word in with the response “OK” when we are asked to drop the subject. It doesn’t matter what the reason is – different people, different reason – but we all do. If there were a sliver in your partner’s finger, you don’t push it in before pulling it out, do you? So why do that with this moment? The precise moment that your partner is feeling unsafe, they are pleading you to drop the topic, wouldn’t your desire to be instantly stop their pain?
Don’t worry about your past choices. You didn’t know.
But now, knowing, if putting your last word in is more important than stopping your partner’s pain as soon as you possibly could by adding absolutely no words after “OK,” your relationship has a bigger problem.
Now, I know you’re feeling offended and insulted about hearing that your partner feels unsafe around you. And this is a huge trap in any relationship – taking things personally, so I’d like to explain.
They might feel completely safe with you, but they might feel unsafe in talking about a topic of feminism when they had just had a conflict with a chauvinist at work. They might feel unsafe because they’re in a public place or have a friend over. They might feel unsafe because they’re pre-menstrual or because they haven’t worked out in a few days. Not everything is about you. And if you think it’s an insult to your ability to protect or to be a safe place, it might be your own issue to work out. Your partner does not deserve to have to deal with this being projected to them.