Your reactions are immediate, your responses a little terse, and the effects of those behaviors don’t easily go away. You feel an accumulation of distress and an aversion to being around your partner when they behave in these ways.
Typical examples of offensive behaviors:
- Continuous nagging
- Focusing on your mistakes
- Constant negativity
- Breaking promises
- Doing things behind your back
- Being chronically late
4. Behaviors That Can Be Exasperating
These behaviors now “drive you crazy.” You’re beginning to feel allergic to them, even slightly nauseated when they occur. At the first moment you feel they are about to happen, you are instantly irritated and combat-ready.
You’ve probably told your partner many times that his or her ways of being are significantly upsetting you, but the noxious behaviors have not diminished and leave you frustrated, reactive, and disgusted.
If you or your partner get to this level of dislike, your positive feelings for each other will rapidly diminish, and your love for each other will eventually be unable to compensate.
You’ll know you are close when it is getting harder and harder to let go of your distressed state or move beyond what you are feeling. You know that your resilience is waning, and that you feel more consistently upset.
Typical examples of exasperating behaviors:
- Picking fights with you or others you care about
- Consistent undermining
- Doing the opposite of what you asked for
- Invalidating your thoughts or feelings
- Ignoring you
- Unilaterally breaking agreements
- Using mutual resources without your agreement
Remember to add or replace these examples as they apply to your own relationship.
If you do need to relabel, please make certain that the initial categories begin with those that are minor and move up the scale to those that could be more cumulatively damaging.
It’s also important to realize that what seems a dislike to you may not be to your partner, or vice versa. It doesn’t matter if the partner who is behaving in a harmful way doesn’t mean to cause distress.
It is what the partner on the other end feels that counts.
Remember that when you share your dislike list with your partner, you take care to not interrupt defend, invalidate, or counter their thoughts or feelings.
You will offer the same when it is your partner’s turn to share their list with you. These exercises will help you to understand each other better and to re balance your relationship towards more positive interactions.
Though neither of you can legislate the changes you want, you can make it clear to one another how important they are to you.
It is up to each of you to care enough for the other to do whatever you can to eliminate what is causing distress.
Please be patient with each other. Many couples, even when they embrace these exercises willingly and with the best of intentions, often take a little while to put new behavioral changes in place.
It’s just human nature to have difficulty letting go of established patterns, but they will respond to practice.
Also note that your current “likes” and “dislikes” may change over the course of your relationship.
Great relationship partners keep each other informed when new data comes in and renew their efforts to do whatever they can to ensure their love will remain intact.
Written by Randi Gunther Ph.D.
Originally appeared in Psychology Today
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