And the effect of stress on partner behavior.
It’s time for Life Intelligence! Something different this time. I've got a few questions that need answering. So, I've compiled them here. It's a little bit of a mishmash.
Some of these came through my online FORM, which you can use to send me a question anytime. You can also just hit "reply" to the weekly emails you get from Life Intelligence (if you are a subscriber). It may take a bit, but I will give you my two cents… eventually.
Let's get started.
Q. I am from an older generation. Why is it I don't seem to be able to communicate with the current generations? I feel that maybe I speak too bluntly, or maybe people have become too involved in themselves.
A. Well, yes.
The generational gap is real. Have you seen the Gen Z Hospital skit? Funny, not so funny. If you can't speak the same language, you can't communicate. Sometimes it's not the slang. It's the worldview. Different generations come from different life experiences and have different ideas of what's worth living for and what one's role in the world needs to be. Be patient, though. We all go through periods in our lives.
You have not always been who you are today. And hopefully, that's good news 😊
Q. My partner freaks out when she can't reach me immediately. Also, she insists on going with me everywhere I go with my friends. I get being transparent, but I feel her requests are unreasonable. She tells me if I love her, I will help her feel more secure. I don't think I am doing anything wrong, but somehow, I am always getting blamed. What to do?
A. You describe someone with an anxious attachment style. They need constant reassurance. They feel anxious, suspicious, and cling to their partners. It is not the healthiest way to have a relationship. One in four people with anxious attachment ever gets better. It takes a lot of work, therapy, and willingness to change. Many have learned to control the situation and get what they want by demanding compliance from others and playing the victim card.
Just a refresher. There are four attachment styles. Three of which are insecure. Meaning there are potholes you have to navigate if you happen upon one of them. If you are one of them, well, you've got some work to do.
The styles are – anxious, avoidant, anxious/avoidant, and secure attachment styles. Roughly 50% of the population is in the "secure" category, so there are plenty of people to choose from. About 25% are avoidant. And about 20% are anxious. The rest, and the smallest category, is for the anxious/avoidant, and that's a good thing because these folks are the hardest to be around, let alone to have a relationship with.
What you need to do is evaluate your situation, why you are in the relationship, what it's costing you, and if you still think it's worth it, you have to se some boundaries that your partner must learn to respect. You can be both reassuring and consistent with your boundaries. Also, remember that what's bugging you now a little is going to bug you a lot more later as this kind of thing has a compounding effect.
Q. If you grew up with lots of love, do you think it would be hard to have a successful relationship with someone who grew up on survival?
A. It depends. If you grew up with lots of love AND had positive experiences as an adult, which reinforced a secure attachment style, you may be able to manage a relationship with someone who comes from trauma. Such a person could be avoidant – self-reliant, independent, and distant. Or they could be anxious, the trauma in their early life inflicting PTSD or causing them to feel more needy, clingy, and uncertain.
Anything is possible, but you must decide if the relationship is worth the investment. What skills do you have in the relational space? Do you need a human project? How much are you willing to tolerate?
We all get exactly what we are willing to tolerate.
Q. My family is still holding a grudge against one of our relatives. I remember what happened, but I don't think it was that bad. At the time, it seemed like a lot, but now it seems kind of funny and also silly to hold a grudge. So, am I letting everyone down by not wanting to go along with this family dynamic?
A. You are describing what's known as the Fading Affect Bias. In short, it states that memories of bad experiences fade out faster than memories of good experiences. That's because we find ways to rationalize the bad outcomes, minimize their impact, and distract ourselves from thinking about them because who wants to relive them? So, bad memories erode, especially for people who are good at finding meaning and lessons in everything.
We don't subject good experiences to the same forces of degradation. We cherish and repeat them, which is why we remember them longer and more vividly.
Your family seems stuck in a groove. Sadly, some people define their worth with the grudges they hold. I'd ask everyone separately why they still have a grievance and what they remember. Then, see if you can help them erode those memories by using the ways I just mentioned. Perhaps, you can reform the whole family singlehandedly!
Also, give it more time.
Q. What's the fastest way to happiness?
A. Ha! Everyone wants to know… My conclusion from living on both sides of the globe and freely experimenting with life tells me we stumble on happiness. You can't plan it. But you can plan for it. You get there by meandering in the general direction of your choice, allowing for unexpected great surprises. Too much striving can lead to a situation in which you've invested too much energy and expectation not to complain about the outcome. LOL
Q. Should I be friends with my ex? I feel some kind of social pressure to be friends with my ex. It makes me feel guilty for not caring. We had a few good years, but things changed. We changed. And now, staying in touch with someone I no longer care about seems pointless.
A. Well, that's an entirely personal choice. It depends on your circumstances. For example, do you have children together? Do you own a business together? Obviously, sometimes staying in touch with your ex is unavoidable. Other times, if the person used to be abusive, dangerous, or toxic, it will be a great idea never to interact with them. If none of these apply, it's OK to accept that you've outgrown a relationship. It's OK to feel disinterested. It's OK to no longer care. You can't force affection. This is not to say that you can't be polite and civil when you see the person. But that's far from deliberately staying in touch.
It's your life. Don't waste it on someone you already decided you don't want to be with.
Stress and Relationships
Summary: Stress can have a detrimental impact on relationships. When feeling stressed, a person is more likely to notice and reflect upon their partner's negative behaviors rather than positive behavior.
Source: Society for Personality and Social Psychology
What do you do when you feel stressed? What if the relationship itself is causing you stress?
Thanks for reading. You’re THE BEST :)