Let’s be clear; “writing the book” on relationships is nigh on impossible. Experiences and individuals vary too much. Rules we would consider hard and fast can also be complicated.
The “bad behavior” that people see in their partners can as much exist only as perception as well as in reality. For example, without a free-flow of communication, erring partners will carry on with this behavior, ignorant of any impact it’s having. Where minor, issues can spiral into relationship-threatening crises. We all have our own value systems; this is as true of our partners as it is of ourselves.
Here are some suggestions for preventing the reoccurrence of bad behavior.
If you don’t assert yourself emotionally early on in the relationship then you:
- risk causing unnecessary hurt to your partner or, conversely
- could end-up being trampled on.
However, we all know that relationships are often heady in the early stages when we are all under the influence of lust and/or love. It is when the stardust starts to settle that problems quietly brewing begin to emerge.
When setting these boundaries, remember that the person sitting opposite you is your partner in this endeavor. Expecting them to act accordingly is not being demanding. Equally, remembering that your expectations of them need also be reflected in your own actions, is also necessary.
Of course, such things don’t have to be rigid and formal. Flexibility and compromise should always be the watchwords that govern your relationship. The important things is not to shrug issues off no matter how small, as these can lead to potentially much larger problems.
Sometimes, a line will be crossed. However, a tit-for-tat approach is most always a bad idea in relationships. Nine times out of ten the result can throw a couple downwards into a murky place. Rarely does it teach the “badly behaved” a lesson. If you decide to forgive your partner then part of that package is the implicit promise not to retaliate. You cannot truly say you have forgiven that transgression if you still feel the need to square things off.
Choosing that course cedes that valuable moral high ground which everybody scrambles for when the relationship goes “west-side” and it begins to resemble a scene from Machiavelli’s Italy.
Dealing with bad behaviour requires a firm but fair hand; or else you end up in the grey area between sainthood and sinner status. If you show the same lack of understanding and care for your partner then they will not improve their behaviour – they will see no reason to and begin to believe that one set of rules operates for you and a different set for them.
However, no matter how much we would all dearly love to lay claim to absolute moral purity we all lash out at times. It is, sadly, intrinsic to human nature as the desire to love itself. The key here in trying to maintain self-awareness and exercise control, but recognize and apologize for the times we fall short of those standards. Don’t punish, communicate your feelings. In this way they will (hopefully) realize the error of their ways and all will be well again.
How can minimize your own ‘bad behaviour’?
- Consideration: As the Sunscreen song puts it: “sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind”. Your partner is human; they have all the same needs, wants and foibles as any other human, including a few peculiar ones. Absolutist demands that you are always considered first will soon find you rejected; on the other hand there are times when it is quite right that you demand your feelings are given due attention . Sacrificial love happens so infrequently so there is always a degree of tension between two competing individuals in a relationship as there is in just about any social unit. The rule here is to be as attentive, accommodating and compassionate as possible – and expect the same from your partner.
- Communication: Most relationship problems can be solved by more of this; however, sometimes the problems themselves prevent it. Are you and your partner talking AT each other rather than with each other? If communication is breaking down then you are often better ending the conversation…it is likely to become a blazing row very soon. However, if you don’t talk to your other half then there is little to no chance of you ever resolving the problem and sometimes not even of knowing what the problem is. Atmosphere and preparation can aid communication in all sorts of ways but the key thing to remember is to actually do it!! As with the point above, your partner is a human-being, not some three-headed monster. (Although for most people the difference can become a little hard to spot at certain times.)
- Hard work: This is self-explanatory. The myth of a smooth, uninterrupted path to true love is just that, a myth for most of us. It’s a nice myth to be sure, and comforting. But it can also damaging if couples approach their relationships expecting the fable to become reality. Most, if not all, relationships are laborious. But the general idea is that the rewards outweigh the price you pay. If you are not willing to do the work then it speaks ill of your view of that person. Remember, we can all be hard work at times and a little sacrifice is sometimes necessary.
Bad behavior in a relationship is like weeds in concrete; it can grow in any cracks and undermine something that appears on the surface to be solid. Action is better than inaction and usually it is very much a case of better sooner rather than later. If, however, you follow your heart and apply your head you can have a decent shot at making the ideal real.