There is a lot going on in the world at the moment. This year has been one we will never forget for all the wrong reasons and it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon.
We are learning resilience; we are learning to connect and support each other and to find the silver linings. But we are also learning that all this chaos, uncertainty, sadness and anger can have a flow on effect to other areas of our lives, including our relationships.
I see relationships as two people playing a game of ping pong with each other. We pass our energy back and forth, our worries, our issues, our moods and feelings. There are some people who are able to not be affected by the moods, emotions and thoughts of those close to them, but there are many who are.
We all have triggers. Things that happened to us in our past, experiences from our upbringing that we don’t recall or even events that occurred in the past few years that leave their mark. We all have them somewhere and often we are not too connected to understanding them on a deeper level. You might see something on the news, read an article online or experience something in your day to day life that triggers you. How you react to that trigger that can have an impact on your relationship or the person you are dating.
When someone is angry, upset, anxious or stressed, it’s often the people close to them that are affected and who cop the brunt. But it’s not always so clear. Someone might be more sarcastic, pick on someone more, appear a little nasty with bickering comments, or even be withdrawn. If the person this is happening to is not aware of what has happened in the lead up, they might perceive these behaviours as rejection or directed at them in a negative way.
It doesn’t mean you should accept all criticism and bad behaviour in a relationship because it might be a trigger, but especially at the moment, if the person you are in a relationship with is not being themselves or not treating you right out of the blue, take some time to stop and investigate whether this is because they have been triggered by what’s going on in the world and are not expressing these emotions in an outward and healthy way. The problem is if they are not dealing with their emotions properly, they might not even be aware of what’s going on so asking them “are you ok?” might just be adding fuel to the fire. You might be able to talk to them about what’s going on, or you might need to assure them you are there if they need, but give them a bit of space. Just because they are triggered does not mean you need to stay physically near them and put up with bad behaviour.
If you are the one that has been triggered and are taking it out on your partner, you might not be aware of what’s going on and why you feel like you do. Awareness is a beautiful thing, but we are not all able to tap into that when we are in the thick of distress. If you do feel emotional, angry, upset and are not sure why, then it’s important to stop and feel what’s going on. Let it come in to your body and mind instead of pushing it deep down inside where it just might later pop it’s head up to say hi in an indirect and unhealthy way. If you don’t feel ok and are not sure why, flag that with your partner. You might not have the reason yet or understand what’s going on, but at least letting them know can help you by having their support and even assistance with where you are emotionally at.
If you have treated someone badly and later you realise it’s because of how you felt about something else, it’s never too late to make amends. Apologies go a long way and in this instances it’s important to apologise with a reason. It’s not an excuse and should not be presented as one. At some level we all do have some control over how we treat someone else and how we express ourselves. But it’s good to let someone know why so they can work with you to help come up with coping mechanisms when you are triggered again or communication patterns so you can express clearly what’s going on.
The world feels like a scary place at the moment and for the first time we are all impacted by it one or another, some more than others. Your relationships are never an isolated thing away from the rest of the world. They are union between people, a choice to share life together and all that comes with it. But sometimes, what happens in life is not always a beautiful thing. This is where we step out of the Instagram era of relationships with false projections of perfection and start to acknowledge what is really and truly going on and how we can work to overcome it. At the end of the day, that’s what relationships are about, not the fake projection we seem to have gotten so used to.