“Love me tender,
love me sweet,
never let me go.”
Doesn’t that say a lot? Love me tenderly and sweetly. And when you do, I don’t want you ever to let me go. I want that tenderness and sweetness to last forever.
The dictionary defines tender as “showing gentleness and concern or sympathy; loving kindness, kindheartedness, compassion, care, benevolence.”
We want someone to love us tenderly, who will treat us with care and kindness. We want to be spoken to and treated with thoughtfulness and concern, with some appreciation for how the words might land in our ears. That’s not to say we aren’t willing to hear things we don’t want to hear. While some prefer truth without a cushion, I and other women want honesty wrapped in a soft down comforter. We still want the truth, but we want it given to us softly, with care, concern and compassion.
This posting was prompted by a recent experience of my not feeling treated tenderly by a date — my third with him. When I did something he didn’t like, instead of telling me gently, it would come out brusquely. When I brought up something he didn’t want to talk about, he said, “Don’t go there,” instead of “I’d rather we not discuss that right now.” It was not only the pointed words, but the tone that made his comment feel harsh.
For example, reviewing the menu in a fish restaurant, he asked what sounded good to me. I listed several fish choices, then noticed a favorite dish. “And the smoked chicken risotto sounds good too.”
“We’re in a fish restaurant. You should have fish,” was his response. I felt like a child being reprimanded by dad. Shouldn’t I be allowed to have whatever I wanted without a “should” attached or my choice being questioned? Of course.
When he groped me in public, I said I was uncomfortable and requested he not do it again. While I knew he was trying to be playful, it felt disrespectful. Instead of listening or apologizing, he said, “No one saw. And if they did, what do I care what they think? And you shouldn’t care what they think.” Thus negating my feelings. He showed he didn’t care how I thought or felt.
Other comments accumulated that were small affronts. Nothing major, so I thought I wouldn’t make a big deal about them. We were just getting to know each other, so why continually nitpick minor infractions? While he showed tenderness in other ways, I was feeling less and less cared for. I don’t want to feel verbal pinpricks throughout an evening.
I’m sure if I told him I didn’t feel he was being tender he would be incredulous. He was tender in his focus on me, physically with the exception of the incident above, and his general conversation. He had no idea how his comments were coming across, as when I did say something, he got defensive. In his 20-year marriage and subsequent relationships had no one given him this feedback? I’d guess no. Based on his descriptions of his past, I don’t think those women were any more astute about this than he.
What do you think about tenderness? Is that a requirement in your romantic relationship? Are you as sensitive to this as I am, or do you have thicker skin?