Do you and your partner end up fighting every time you try to talk about something going on in your relationship? If so, check to see if you’re doing one (or all) of the following things while you and your partner are discussing an issue:
1. You get defensive.
The love experts at YourTango say, “Your partner brings up an issue and you feel misunderstood and accused. Because it seems unfair, rather than trying to deeply understand what your partner is saying, you immediately reject their point and refuse to admit any shortcomings. The mission becomes to prove your innocence.”
I’ve dealt with this dynamic a lot in relationships, and it’s impossible to overcome. When people are committed to always defending themselves, they’re not listening and so they can’t work with you. Unless the defensive person can learn to be more open, the relationship is pretty much doomed.
2. You change the subject.
“Changing the subject is a popular way to divert from the fact that someone is frustrated with you, or just from the emotional discomfort of having to discuss something difficult,” YourTango notes.
It’s really frustrating to have someone change the subject when you’re trying to talk about something serious. Again, this proves they’re not listening and not interested in solving problems.
3. You try to “fix it” immediately instead of listening to your partner talk about the problem.
YourTango offers, “Jumping to proposing a solution to your partner’s problem is rarely why he/she wanted to talk with you. Apart from the fact that the first thing that pops into your mind has probably already occurred to your partner, what your partner is really looking for is empathy.”
Yes. Exactly. Again, this type of reaction boils down to a listening problem, an inability of an individual to see outside of themselves. All of these reactions are narcissistic in nature and can be worked on if the offending party is willing to admit they have a problem, but that’s something lots of narcissists are unfortunately unable to do.
It’s not just narcissists who have bad habits that promote futile arguments, though. Many people with narcissistic traits are paired with people with co-dependent traits, and those traits fuel relationship dysfunction as well. For more on that, visit YourTango.
Their experts note that “Whatever your ‘signature reaction’ to conflict is, it likely stems from a pattern you learned in childhood and while it may have developed for a self-protective reason, it may be time to exercise some new ‘emotional muscles.'” If this rings true to you, it might be time to see a therapist.