We live in a world that encourages political correctness—always advocating tolerance. But in this article we’re going to suggest something politically incorrect: be intolerant.
There are two things, primarily, that you need to stop tolerating. One of them has to do with your behavior, the other has to do with your partner’s behavior. To learn what they are, read on.
If you want to take your romantic relationship to a healthier place, stop tolerating your own immaturity. Do you do any of the following behaviors?
- expressing your emotions in immature ways
- taking your partner for granted
- speaking disrespectfully to your partner
- failing to honor the commitments you’ve made to your partner
- blaming your partner for how you feel
- walking out of the room when your partner is talking
These behaviors, and many more, are unnecessary. There are mature ways to express yourself, to ask for what you want, to renegotiate your agreements and to set boundaries. There is no good reason to tolerate your own immaturity. But, as a culture—including our psychology community—we offer people all sorts of excuses for their immature behaviors.
“He’s tired and upset . . . he didn’t mean what he said.”
“She was triggered by memories from her family of origin, and can’t help how she reacts.”
“He’s doing the best he can do.”
“He has low self-esteem so he doesn’t handle criticism well.”
And on and on. The point is that we make all sorts of excuses for people behaving poorly. Why? Because in doing so we give ourselves an excuse to behave poorly. And that’s exactly where we suggest that you start to be intolerant. Stop tolerating your own immature behavior. In every situation, ask yourself, “How can I do this maturely?”
If you’re upset and want to express your feelings, how can you do that in a mature way? If you are unhappy with your partner and want to express your unhappiness, how can you do that in a mature way? In you feel the need to renegotiate something in your partnership, how can you do so in a mature way? If you screwed up and feel the need to defend yourself, how can you do that in a mature way?
Every behavior can be expressed maturely or immaturely.
In the beginning of this article we said that there are two things we recommend that you stop tolerating. The first is your own immature behavior. The second is your partner’s immature behavior. But here’s the thing—you have to go first. Only after you stop behaving immaturely is it appropriate to request that your partner do the same thing.
You can say, “About a month ago I made a commitment to stop behaving immaturely when I interact with you. I hope you have noticed a difference because in the past month I haven’t been perfect, but I think I’ve taken a big step forward. Where I used to blame you for how I was feeling, I’ve tried not to do that this month. And I know I used to walk out of the room when you were talking if I didn’t like what you were saying. But in the past month I’ve made an effort to listen and then calmly explain how I might see things in a different light.
“So, I feel really good about the changes I’ve made. And it all started when I read this brilliant article in PscyhCentral about no longer tolerating my own immaturity. I saved the article so I can show it to you, because I want you to make a similar effort. And I realize you may need to think about this because it’s sort of coming out of the blue, but I want you to know this is important to me because we’re important to me.”
Let us know if you have any questions or if you have some behavior and you want help figuring out how to express it in a mature way. We talk about this in our Dating Relating Mating course.