Psychology of relationships

You Irritate Me

You Irritate Me

There are no perfect people and there is no perfect relationship. Everyone has strong and weak points as well as their own beliefs and opinions. That’s why it’s important not to hide our true feelings and desires but sincerely discuss problematic issues with our partner. Let’s see what psychologists recommend to do to engage in a meaningful dialogue with a significant other.

Imagine the following situation. It’s a day-off and you’ve stayed at home to spend a day with a beloved person. It seems that everything is fine, but deep inside you feel strong irritation which is hard to subdue. The reason is your partner who has managed to do “something wrong” right before breakfast. Then he/she asks an innocent question – and you flare up and, naturally, burst out. An argument begins, and everyone does their best to express accumulated offenses.

How to behave?

It is a widespread belief that a relationship requires both partners’ mutual effort. However, it’s unclear what we should do to make a relationship function well. One of the main prerequisites is an ability to timely inform your partner about the things bothering you. But how can we do this not risking a scandal? Most importantly, do we always know for sure what exactly irritates us and what result we want to get?

For a dialogue to flow productively, let’s recollect that very moment when a partner did something not as you wanted. In order not to accumulate dissatisfaction and burst out on the slightest occasion, apply the following 5 techniques which will help to avoid arguments and make a common weekend a real pleasure, not a battlefield.

Ways of productively expressing your irritation

Realize what exactly irritates you

For instance, you are irritated by the music your partner listens to, their habit to leave a cup with some coffee left or a tube of toothpaste open in a bathroom. You may also be irritated by the way they dress, joke, their tastes, or hobbies. Try to confess as sincerely as possible what the partner’s action causes an acute negative reaction. Even if the reason for irritation seems funny and petty, don’t ignore it. Formulate a problem like this: “It irritates me that he/she has done this again,” but don’t tell anybody about it.   

Find an isolated place where you may be alone

You’ve understood what bothers you and what deed has caused it. You shouldn’t declare it to your partner immediately. It’s better to go to another room or go for a short walk. Find a place where nobody will disturb you and turn off your mobile phone if possible.

Define a true reason for dissatisfaction

Being alone, try to consider the feeling from different points of view. In the first place, find a name for it – an “unpleasant feeling” sounds vague and won’t help to clear up a situation. Think about the word perfectly describing your state. Utter it aloud or in your mind: irritation, anger, insult, disappointment, anxiety, etc. Probably, you will find another word or even an image to describe the essence of your feelings.

The most important aspect is to remember that all these negative feelings are natural and you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit them or apologize for them. Vice versa, once you learn to admit the fact that these emotions dwell in your soul, it would be easier for you to get rid of them.   

Try to be precise

Recollect the moment when a definite partner’s habit started to irritate you and cause other negative emotions. You may not have paid attention to it earlier.

Most likely, an open tube of toothpaste or a pile of dirty dishes is not a real reason for discontent. An empty coffee cup left on a table is just a cup, but it has become a symbol of an inner conflict with a beloved person.

For example, you are irritated that he is watching a football match all day long. Digging deeper, you will understand that you are hurt by his inattention and an absence of desire to spend a day off together.  Or you cannot stand her jokes that don’t seem funny anymore. However, it’s unlikely that the reason is that your partner tells them badly. Presumably, there were times when you laughed at those jokes together. The point is that now they remind you how different you both are.          

Formulate a problem

Now the reason for strong emotions has become clearer, you may also feel relieved. An unpleasant feeling has changed; it’s not overwhelming and vague now but more distinct and easy to realize.

Try to re-formulate a problem. Instead of “I am irritated because he/she has done this again” you should get something like this:

“I feel disappointed when you forget about my requests”

“I feel offended when I notice we like different things”

“I feel lonely when he/she is completely absorbed in their hobby”  

“I lack his/her attention”

Talk to a partner

Once you’ve completed these four steps, you will notice that your inner state has changed greatly. At first, it was difficult for you to cope with emotions. Now they aren’t that strong but clearer and easier to realize, which means that an appropriate moment for talk has come. Now it’s simpler to discuss everything calmly, without accusations and reproaches.

Leading a dialogue, it’s necessary to shift a focus from an irritating object to the feelings it causes. Use the phrases from the fourth paragraph. Tell your partner about your need, for example, to spend more time together. Avoid evaluating statements and don’t suggest them to change. Be ready not only to talk about yourself but also to hear what another part is saying. Try to understand their feelings, needs, and desires as well, show that you are ready for a dialogue.

Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to expect that the problem disappears after the first talk. The main goal of such dialogues is to learn TO HEAR EACH OTHER’S NEEDS AND FEELINGS. In case you master this skill, you will notice real changes in a relationship with a dear person.  

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