5 reasons I say “I’m fine” when I’m not

Martin Whatson

I may not be right now, but I will be. I just need a minute.

Until then, there are a number of reasons there’s nothing to talk about:

Reason #1: it’s not a big deal.

By far the most common reason — like 90% of situations.

It’s not “real” and not worth discussing. I’m just having a moment. I’ll get over it.

People have animal reactions. It’s not necessarily in my control whether I feel split-second fear or insecurity or sadness or anger or whatever. What is in my control is what I do with it.

I am entitled to feelings, but that doesn’t mean they’re all valid. Sometimes I internalize so my rationale can catch up to check them. And I just need a beat to do so.

It’ll blow over faster if I don’t drag you along for that process— and frankly, I don’t think I should have to. I love you, but darling, you’re not entitled to every messy thought inside my brain.

If it’s you: I’m not going to constantly nudge and prod you with every blip I have. There’s a lot of shit that might bug me, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of shit doesn’t actually matter.

So, yeah obviously I’m a little miffed that you were too tired for sex tonight or misheard my beer order at the bar, but damn Jackie, we don’t need to discuss it! Because I also know that that shit does not matter in the grand scheme of the universe. I’m upset, but I’ll get over it.

I want to save “what’s wrong” conversations for things that are actually a.) important and b.) actionable. And if I talk to you about something, I want you to feel confident that I’ve cared enough to cover both of those things.

Because if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

If it’s not you: I say this in the most loving way possible: boy, you are neither entitled to or in need of every thought that comes into my head — especially if it has nothing to do with you. You don’t need to hear that I took an irrational disliking to the barista, or that I’m wondering if that dude was glaring at me for a reason. I don’t need to explain road rage to you at great length. Maybe I’m just hangry or had a bad day. You do not need the play-by-play, and I’m not giving it to you. Just leave me be for a sec. I’ll be fine.

Either way, just remember: I want to enjoy my day — and our relationship, and lives — just as much as you do. If I say it’s okay, it will be — I’m going to get over it.

Just give me 10 minutes and chill. damn. ❤

Reason #2: I don’t want to or am not yet ready to talk about it.

The second most likely reason.

Maybe it’s you, but more than likely: it’s not.

People may idealize the whole “share everything with each other, always” thing in relationships, but taken too literally, that’s horse shit. Sometimes I want some space to work through things on my own — at least first. And I think that I’m entitled to that — especially if it’s my shit.

I’m not someone who talks through emotions to identify or deal with them. I first do that on my own and only talk about my feelings after the fact, and even then more as courtesy to those I care about than for my own needs.

My brother died unexpectedly in 2013. When I told my boyfriend at the time, we talked about little more than my travel plans. I just needed space for myself before I was ready to share — doing so prematurely would have felt draining, exhausting; like being forced to give when I was already emotionally deflating and had nothing much more to give away.

If it’s you*: look. It’s mature to sort your shit before laying it out for others. I may be upset for real, but I also want to talk about it in a way that’s organized and constructive rather than messy and careless. I’m really, really not into hurling garbage, and I care about you enough to give you the important stuff in ways that are clear and actionable, not slop.

Don’t get grabby. Let me have a minute to sit with my own feelings, figure out what they are, and clean them up a bit before I dole them out to you. I’ll share if and when I’m ready.

*Note: I may also avoid saying anything if you have a history of getting defensive or dismissive when I bring things up. I can avoid that reaction by avoiding the conversation altogether. Not a healthy scenario for either of us.

Reason #3 (uncommon): I just need a moment to lick my wounds.

We just got done discussing an issue and reached reconciliation (perhaps even an apology, whatever) and there are just some lingering feelings I’m still soothing.

There’s nothing more for you to say or do — I got what I needed. This part is on me. I just need a second and I’ll be fine.

It’s uncommon because: frankly, if you’re actually still prodding “what’s wrong?” (and I’m having to answer “I’m fine”) after I took the time to explain and discuss it, there’s something wrong (probably with you.)

Reason #4 (uncommon): now is not the time or place to talk about it.

We’re in the car on the way to have dinner with your parents, or on the phone while you’re at work, or out with friends at 1 am. In any case, I’m not fine but it’s not the time or place to have this conversation, and you and I both know that anything other than “I’m fine” is going to ignite it.

It’s uncommon because: in a healthy relationship, we can make this convo quick, set expectations to discuss it later, or let it blow over.

Reason #5: bro, I *am* fine.

I’m just a little aloof sometimes, and you’re projecting on me. Calm yourself, champ. Everything’s cool.

Times I promise I won’t just say “I’m fine:”

When I won’t be fine. When it is a big deal and worth discussing, and when I’m not going to just get over it. I promised not to drag you along, and that includes dragging you through the mud of silent treatment.

When it’s you and I’m still invested in the relationship and care about fixing it. Or when it’s not you and I have organized thoughts around what I want to say.

When I care about connecting with you, on this, and have something constructive or clean with which do so.

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