Double Trouble: Two Bad Habits That Kill Relationships
Your feelings are hurt.
What you do at this point could make the difference between resolution and even more hurt feelings.
Take the wrong turn and your feelings will continue to be trampled upon. Your relationship will suffer, according to research.
Take the right turn and you have a chance – a real chance at resolution. Take the right turn consistently and you could have one of the healthiest, mutually satisfying relationships on the planet.
First, the wrong turns. Do you recognize these?
Two Signposts that Point in the Wrong Direction for your Relationship
Here’s what not to do when you have an issue with your partner, such as hurt feelings.
Disclaimer: The following does not apply to abusive relationships, in my opinion. If you are in an abusive relationship, a different set of recommendations apply, which are NOT covered here. I am not an expert in abusive relationships, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for more appropriate advice.
1. Withdrawing from Communication
Your feelings are hurt. And you may be really upset or angry. You so want to punish this person by refusing to talk, right? You may even want to avoid solutions by now and hang onto your anger. It makes you feel so justified, doesn’t it?
Careful. You’re honestly messing with the longevity of your partnership. Is it worth it?
According to a recent study conducted by Baylor University associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Keith Sanford, Ph.D., withdrawal causes real problems in relationships. The study, which appeared in the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychological Assessment, found that there was a direct correlation between a tendency toward withdrawal and lower satisfaction in their relationship.
It’s a defensive tactic often used when one person feels as though they are being attacked by the other during an argument. All couples experience this to some degree, but it tends to happen more often in situations when one or both partners are unhappy in the relationships.
Don’t withdraw from your partner. It does more the prevent resolution of the existing problem. It forms a pattern that harms the entire relationship.
2. Expecting your Partner to Read your Mind
According to the research, expecting your partner to know what your problem is and proactively solve it tends to happen most in relationships where one partner is feeling neglected. Unfortunately, this only leads to more anger and negative communication.
Stereotypes suggest the women expect their minds to be read more often than men. However, my experience with clients at students at the iNLP Center suggests that both sexes suffer from this one.
In my own relationship, both of us do it. When my wife and I stop expecting each other to have magical mind-reading powers, however, we solve problems quickly.
When combined, these above two reactions tend to spiral negatively and have the capacity to endanger a relationship.
According to Sanford, it’s important for couples to be aware when one or both of these behaviors are occurring, so that the cycle can be stopped. Then, the couple can work together to find more polite and constructive ways to resolve their conflict (though this is sometimes easier said than done).
What’s the right turn?
As my good friend and colleague, Jake Eagle, is fond of saying, “Turn toward your partner.”
Ideally, turn toward your partner, hurt feelings and all. Communicate with vulnerability.
How? Tell the truth about your hurt feelings, very specifically.
When you didn’t look up from your computer as I was talking, it hurt my feelings.
When you were teasing me about my hair, it hurt my feelings.
When you told me I couldn’t go with you, it hurt my feelings.
Hurt feelings. They are so common. And perhaps nothing is hidden more often. We get hurt, then hang onto the hurt by refusing to say anything or expecting someone to know what’s going on without being told.
Will it work? My experience is that if two people really want a relationship to work, revealing your hurt feelings specifically is a clear path to resolution and mutual satisfaction.
Expressing hurt will not, however, overcome compatibility issues. Often, people get into incompatible relationships – relationships that create hurt on autopilot – and expect things to work out.
Life on the inside of relationships that suffer from fundamental compatibility issues is no fun. Think about it. You are with someone with different values, life dreams and communication styles. And you want to feel like you are together in life. It’s a tall order – too tall in many cases. You are set up to feel at odds with each other from the get-go.
To explore compatibility and how to restore harmony – or find the right person for you, you should read this article about the Dating, Relating and Mating program. It’s the most surprisingly common-sense approach in the world, if you ask me.
Bundrant, M. (2015). Double Trouble: Two Bad Habits That Kill Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2015/03/double-trouble-two-bad-habits-that-kill-relationships/