“Look,” Kevin said. “What I really need from you right now is to listen and not interrupt me. Is that okay?”
“Huh?” Jacob asked, looking up from the computer screen. “Oh, yeah, sure.” He turned his head toward Kevin, but one hand stayed on the mouse.
Kevin took a deep breath. “Sometimes I feel as if my emotions aren’t being acknowledged or respected. There are a lot of times when -”
“Like when? I never-” Jacob blurted.
“Can I finish?” Kevin snapped. Jacob quieted and look away, but looked more irritated than regretful. Lovely. “I feel like my emotions are just a bother to you, especially when they are triggered by something you’re doing. You get defensive and immediately try to turn the conversation to you. Sometimes…” Kevin took another breath and tried to reorient. His voice was getting testy and he was trying to avoid conflict here, dammit. “Sometimes I feel that my side isn’t being considered.”
To Jacob’s credit, he remained quiet, though it looked like he might be literally biting his tongue.
“I don’t think it’s something that happens on purpose,” Kevin continued. “I really believe you do care about me. I just… I think I’d be happier and less stressed if we could find a different way to interact when I am upset.” With that, he looked away, stomach knotted as he waited for a reply.
“But I -” Jacob started. Then he stopped himself. His hand left the mouse so he could fidget with something in his pocket. “I don’t want -”
Kevin waited patiently. It really looked like Jacob was struggling with something.
“You’re right,” Jacob finally said. It burst out and he almost collapsed saying it, as if it took all his strength to push out the words. “I don’t mean to. And I do care about you. How do you think we can do this?”
Kevin smiled and sat down. Maybe this could work, after all.