Nadia and Amy had been meeting up at the park near the campus student union building for the past few weeks, and Nadia, a peer support worker, thought they were ready for a change. They were supposed to meet there again that afternoon, but given the grey day, being indoors seemed like a much better option to Nadia. She texted Amy, certain she would be excited about the change in plans.
Hi Amy!! It looks like it’s going to rain today. Instead of meeting up at the park, how about we head to the student union building? We can just grab a tea and hang out. How about I meet you by the entrance at the same time?
Okay. Texted Amy
Great! See you soon.
Nadia waited at the meeting spot for 45 minutes, but Amy never showed up. Amy also didn’t respond to any of her texts. Nadia was upset because she had taken time out of her study schedule to meet and was really looking forward to spending time with Amy and grabbing a bite to eat at the student union cafe.
When she got home, Nadia texted Amy again: Hey! Is everything okay? I waited for you for 45 minutes today. I was worried.
Amy: Yeah sorry. I wasn’t feeling well.
At first Nadia was annoyed. Couldn’t Amy have texted that earlier? She felt that Amy wasn’t respecting her time. Nadia thought about it for a while. Amy had talked to her a bit about a bad breakup she had with a fellow student, and how it impacted her sense of safety. She didn’t mention anything over text about having a problem with the change in plans, but maybe she wasn’t ok with it. Nadia also realized that layers of communication can be lost in texting, so maybe she was just assuming that Amy was okay with the change.
Nadia: Okay I’m sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. Is there anything else? I know I changed plans at the last minute. Please let me know if that didn’t work for you.
Amy texted back: Thanks. Yeah… at first it sounded like a good idea, but to be honest being in the crowded student union building where my ex might be stressed me out. I felt like I didn’t have a choice in the plan, and I was also really looking forward to going for a walk. I really feel comfortable at our usual place, and there’s a café beside the park if it rains. I also don’t do so well with spontaneous changes to plans.
Nadia: I’m really sorry that I changed the plan at the last minute. I wish I had texted you my thoughts earlier. I also realize now that I didn’t give you a choice in the decision. That wasn’t right. I’m glad that you feel comfortable at our usual place. We can for sure keep meeting there if that feels good for you. I really like it there too, and maybe we can head into the café if we’re feeling up for that.
Amy: I’m good with that. I would like to go somewhere new sometime, but if we can plan for it ahead of time that would make me feel a lot more comfortable. I would like to be emotionally prepared. I know it sounds silly, but it’s important to me.
Nadia decided to give Amy a call. This was an important conversation, and she didn’t want to risk misunderstanding by continuing to text.
Amy answered the phone and was glad to chat about it.
Nadia said, “I do hear what you are saying, and I understand. Thank you so much for letting me know how you are feeling. I’m grateful that you felt comfortable telling me. I am sorry for not considering your needs. I’m hearing that this is one of your needs to feel safe, and I really want to support you in the best way I can. I get that! I have needs like that too. We talked about boundaries when we first met, and we defined what we both needed – I’m really glad to know now that this is one of your needs, too. I will remember this and do my best to respect it.”
Nadia continued, “I’m really looking forward to meeting up next week. Would it work for you if we check in 3 days before and see what the weather forecast is supposed to be like, so we can decide between meeting at the park entrance or the café you mentioned?”
Amy: “Yes! That works for me! Thank you so much for understanding Nadia! I feel so much better.”