I was having a chat with my friend about relationships the other night, and not that I’m an expert, but a few things came up which I wished someone had told me when I was younger:
- The focus is off.In a fight, there’s a good chance the other person isn’t upset about what happened, but the fact that you are mad and/or disappointed in them. This isn’t to discount the significance of whatever issues you are facing, but to simply point out that in conflicts, especially between partners, there’s a lot more emotion involved than the hard facts of what was done wrong. Sometimes the other person is simply upset that they disappointed you, or worse yet, upset you without even understanding what they have done.
Give yourself enough time to stop being angry. When you’re calm, let them know you love them and graciously explain why you were upset. In times like this, the other person first needs to be affirmed, then to talk about what happened and how to move forward from this.
- They’re not even mad at you.When the other person lashes out at you, it’s possible that it’s not even about you. It doesn’t make it right, but to give you a little insight into what’s going on in that brain of his/hers: they might just be upset about something else, and you, being the one who loves them, are the only or one of the few safe places for them to let these emotions out.
We don’t all know how to process emotions, and even if we know how to talk about it, doing it is vastly different, especially when emotions are running high. Try to cut this loved one of yours some slack, but if it’s an issue, do talk about what would be a better way to handle these situations. Remember, we’re all different and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to how a person feels about something.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned through counseling is that “feelings are just feelings, they’re not right or wrong – there’s no such thing as a wrong feeling”. This means (if that wasn’t obvious enough), that how a person feels is just the way it is, but you can change that by giving each other more insight into why you feel that way, and what you can do to prevent or rectify it.
- Do you really want them to change?
This is a tough one. The question that comes up is, “if I were any different, would I still be me? Does that mean you don’t love me for who I am right now?” This is such a fine line to be treading around. Yes, I think we need to know if we love someone for who they are, but I also think this is a bullshit excuse to continue to be a lesser version of your best self.
We can’t force other people to change (one thing I’ve always known but wrestled hard with, because it’s a whole other kind of hurt when the person you love is settling for the lesser version of themselves), so here’s one thing to ask ourselves: Would we still be attracted to this person if they were any different? If they were more organized but less spontaneous, would you still be excited to be around them? If they stopped voicing their opinions and holding themselves to their self-imposed standards, would you still respect and be charmed by them? Would you still feel comfortable being yourself, if they weren’t such a dork and approachable?
What do you think about the three ideas I shared above? What are some of these “wisdoms” you wish someone shared with you when you were younger?