We all get disappointed at times, and those of us with a strong, assertive personality tend to show our disappointment in an angry way, versus a more passive personality that would just get sad or shut down. Whether you can deal with your partner’s conflict style is a key question for anyone contemplating a committed relationship– and you should not delude yourself into thinking the style will change. Old habits die hard, and the fact is that those that we love are the ones that can hurt us the most.
Our expectations of the closest to us are far greater than of anyone else around. So, whenever I feel the rise in disappointment or anger inside, when I am am trying to hit re-set, I start by asking myself whether my expectations were realistic. Also, I have to take into account whether the person that committed the transgression intentionally did something that hurt, or was it accidental? As a lawyer, it’s been drilled into me that intent makes all the difference in the world, as does someone’s word choice and any attempts to mitigate damages.
Trying to have a difficult discussion when your emotions are raw is rarely productive. This is why it’s important to give yourself as much time as you need to process what happened and calm down. Go for a walk, take a shower, maybe talk to someone else about the situation first to get a better perspective and try to get a good night’s sleep before engaging in an open discussion of what went wrong.
Not everyone is able to stay calm while talking about hurt feelings, and some people are simply incapable of apologizing or accepting any responsibility for the problems at hand. It does take two people willing to work together to find a way to resolve their conflict. By seeking an understanding of how the problem occurred, with a focus on finding a solution for the future versus trying to prosecute the other person, you should be able to de-escalate the situation quite effectively.
To be in a committed relationship means more than just an agreement to be exclusive and to go out and have sex regularly– those are great first steps, no doubt. However, a commitment to make things work means you accept there will be challenging moments and you will not walk away when that happens. Instead, you are agreeing to stick it out, work through problems and develop a deeper level of understanding. If the intent is to stay and grow together, that is what you are really committing to, and if you are not in sync on that, well then it is probably time to move on.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.