Ask Ciiku: Am I a Coward?

Hi Ciiku,

My partner says I’m a coward and I took great offense. Perhaps you can help me see whether it’s true or not. I tend respond “late” to things people say or do to me that I find uncomfortable or offensive. Meaning, if someone offends me I won’t let them know they’re offending me the moment it happens. I’ll sort of brush it off, think about it later. Then when I’m satisfied in my mind that it was an offense, I’ll go back to the person days, weeks, or even months later to let them know that I was offended by what they said or did. Sometimes I can get pretty emotive. At times I let offenses slide.

So a few months back, my partner did something that I repeatedly asked them not to do because I didn’t like it (sexual). One time after I had expressed this, they did it again. While they were at it I just lay there feeling disgusted. As usual, I didn’t express my displeasure while it was happening. I told them much later, a few days later. They wondered why I didn’t speak up. I TOLD HIM,REPEATEDLY THAT I DIDN’T WANT OR LIKE IT BEFORE IT HAPPENED! We got into a very heated argument. I told them that if they kept disregarding my feelings I wouldn’t put up with it any longer and that I’d “raze them to the ground” . That led them to say that I’m all talk and I wouldn’t do anything about it because I’m all talk. They believed I couldn’t do anything about it because I don’t speak up the moment my boundaries are crossed. And for that reason I’m a coward. I was, and still am deeply hurt by those words.

Am I indeed a coward? Or were they just coming at me from a place of anger. Or guilt. How can I learn how to respond IMMEDIATELY I’m offended by someone? Of all things to be in life, I certainly don’t want to be a coward. Please help. I’ll appreciate your insight.

Concerned

Hi Concerned,

First of all, I am very sorry for what continues to happen to you. Your partner does not respect you, does not seem kind and for all intents and purposes you did not consent to what your partner did.

A definition:

Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity.

Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.

via: Planned Parenthood

Based on what you have written to me, you indicated that you were uncomfortable with a certain act which you made clear to your partner. At that point, your partner being aware of what you have said, should not have done it. So the fact that you mentioned it days later shouldn’t even be the issue here. You had already said you don’t them to do it. That should have sufficed and their refusal to respect this is absolutely worrying and wrong. Even you having to tell them repeatedly about something you are uncomfortable with is a red flag to me.

To then come round and state that you are a coward and that they know you will do nothing about it when you tell them you will leave is not only a red flag but is outright manipulative. Please read this post on gaslighting.

Let me also mention that there is no need to justify their behaviour as
“coming at me from a place of anger. Or guilt. “ If anything you are justified in being the angry party here.

Do you feel like you are being treated with kindness? Are you affirmed in this relationship? Are you understood? Especially when your wishes are not being listened to? What does an ideal partner look like to you? How would this ideal partner be in this particular situation?

In reference to your question about being a coward? Do you avoid confrontation? If so, do you know why? I know it is easy to dismiss this as your personality, but like much else, personality is learned. And therefore how you react is a product of something learned. I think you need to spend some time alone thinking about why this is the case. Therefore in deciding to react immediately, it means unlearning how you have been. It has to start with stepping out of the box, and with time, it will become easier. Take that first step.

I wish you the best.

Ciiku

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One thought on “Ask Ciiku: Am I a Coward?

  1. I had a very close friend who called me a coward as well. For the same reasons. I take my time to process issues, think through it so that when I speak I am clear on what it is I am unhappy about. This has it’s pros and cons, which I will not go into. However, for me that friendship had to end. He was unapologetic by the way. The worst bit about it is, even though such people understand your mode of conflict resolution they totally don’t make an effort to create a space where you feel safe and where you feel your concerns are matter to them.

    Like

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