Why Can’t People Just Talk To Each Other??

Dear Everyone,I’m a results person.  I tend to look at where I want to go and plot a course to get me there.  (I am also a details person but for the purposes of this post, that’s not so important – although it can make me very annoying.)  In a potential conflict, my goal is to resolve it.  If I think maybe I have misunderstood something, I’ll ask a question to clarify.  I don’t tend to jump to conclusions without evidence.  I’ll ask until I’m clear.  So I don’t get the “Big Mis”.  It’s my least favourite trope in romance.

Very rarely, it can work for me – usually where the misunderstanding is logical (this takes some setting up so that I don’t want to kick either main character) and of short duration.  The longer it is drawn out and the less rational the conclusion jumped to, the more likely it is I’ll want to throw my reader at a wall.
I want my romance heroes and heroines to be smart and emotionally mature.  So why can’t they just talk to each other?  Why not just ask, “when you said that, did you mean x?”  Or, “what were you thinking just now, because you looked really happy?” (instead of – as happened in a recent book I listened to – jumping to the conclusion that because she looked happy, she must have been thinking about another man, the whore).
I know that all people are not like me. And, there are times where I’m scared to ask in case my conclusion is correct.  But, in the end, I’d rather know the truth.  Take the classic “Big Mis” where the guy thinks his partner is cheating on him.  Why not just come out and ask?  Why not put the concerns on the table and see what happens?  Two reasons: a) because it serves the plot to make the conflict longer and b) the guy is too chickenshit to ask – because, what if he’s right?  (You can swap the gender here, it still works).  The way I look at it, if I’m the guy in my example, I’d want to know for sure if she’s a cheating cheatypants.  If she isn’t then I’ve save myself a lot of grief and heartache (although I wouldn’t suggest leading with “you’re a cheating skank, aren’t you?“).  If she is, then I can deal with what is, rather than what I think it might be.  I can try and solve whatever’s going on and try to rescue the relationship (if I even want to try) or I can get out.  But I’m not laboring under a misapprehension.  I know.  Typically, the guy (or the girl. Really, I’ve seen both many times) delays the discussion and worries and comes up with even more ridiculous theories until eventually the cost/benefit analysis is: I either ask her or lose her.  What do I have to lose?  My question is:  What did he have to lose in the first place?  Dude!
If a character is set up to be reluctant to question someone’s motives and if the conclusions aren’t just fairy tales spun out of whole cloth, I might have some sympathy.  But the amount of times a simple conversation solves the problem is frustrating to me as a reader.  A novel must have conflict.  But when the conflict is merely that two people are too stubborn or proud to have a conversation, to risk being wrong or being hurt (and being right) in order to know and sort it out (if possible) I get cranky.  It seems lazy to me.
Little misunderstandings; they happen. When shortly after there’s a  sorting-out conversation, that makes sense to me.  I can buy that. In fact, I even like it.  It grounds a relationship in reality.  I like a book where there’s one or two big conflicts but there are also smaller problems to be solved along the way as the couple get to know each other.  I like watching the couple actually communicate and resolve issues before things get out of hand; it gives me confidence in their HEA.
Stubborn pride isn’t that attractive to me and many times in the “Big Mis” that’s what I’m seeing on the page.  I’d like main characters with a higher emotional IQ please.Thank you,

11 comments on “Why Can’t People Just Talk To Each Other??

  1. Kassa

    well said!

  2. Chris

    O hai. I am one of those people who is paralyzed in the face of relationship talk or discussing Difficult Topics. So I probably have more sympathy for fictional misunderstandings than you might… but the Big Misunderstanding can still drive me nuts when the characters in question are portrayed in such a way that not talking to each other seems against their nature, or when the misunderstanding is so stupid that I start to think the characters are TSTL.

  3. Kaetrin

    @Kassa – 😀

  4. Kaetrin

    @Chris I agree that discussing difficult topics can be hard and I have some sympathy with character who intend to talk about a problem but struggle to actually do it (provided it's not drawn out too long). But I really don't understand not asking "I tried to call you and couldn't contact you, where were you, I was worried?" as opposed to leaping to the conclusion that the person is a cheating cheatypants. In the books that push my buttons the most, person A doesn't ask that simple question and instead starts doing private detective bungling and acting weird so person B (who also won't say "why are you acting weird?") starts doing the same and they end up looking so guilty that each of the other's suspicions become even more aroused. And it's all for want of a really simple question. Drives. Me. Nuts.

  5. jeayci

    Yes, I agree with everything you said! It can occasionally work for me, but most of the time it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

  6. Kaetrin

    @jeayci – There are other tropes I don't love – the secret baby isn't a favourite and I miracle baby epilogues (where the couple have been fertility challenged in the book) tend to give me hives, but by far the one I like least is the Big Mis. 🙂

  7. Tam

    Yeah, I'm not a fan of that trope either. If it's solved within a day or so, fine, we can all have a bad day and think something wrong, but it doesn't drag on and on and you get to the bottom fairly quickly. It also irks me when they will believe some guy's ex who says "we slept together" even when it's clear the ex is a top notch liar and apparently their statements hold more water than the person you supposedly love. Come on. Get a grip. :-)Thankfully in m/m secret baby is rare. LOL

  8. Kaetrin

    @Tam Yeah – why not give the person you love the benefit of the doubt or, at least, the chance to explain?

  9. azteclady

    Why can't people just talk to each other?What, you are expecting people to be self-aware, mature adults? Woman, that would end the story before the first chapter is over.:-P

  10. Kaetrin

    @Aztec Lady Ha ha. If that's the only reason for conflict, I wish they would!

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