If you tell your partner that their behavior hurts you and explain why it hurts you and what exactly you need them to do, but they don't, should you just give up?
Originally answered on Quora.
I have four things for you to think about.
1 - How exactly are they hurting you?
In this situation, what exactly do you mean by “they hurt you?” If they are hurting you physically in some way and causing you real harm, or for example spending all of your money on gambling, then it's fair to say that this relationship may not be beneficial for you.
If that’s your situation, the longer you stay, the more damage you will incur.
If, however, you are saying you feel emotionally wounded in some way - but not actually damaged - then carefully consider what growth and strength you are gaining from this experience.
All growth comes with discomfort.
If you go to the gym and feel zero pain, you're not getting any benefit.
To your brain, change is always difficult, but that doesn't mean it is bad.
Consider that it’s possible that emotional discomfort may be good for you, in the same way that gym or cold showers challenge your body and mind to grow and meet the challenge.
2 - Why are they continuing this behavior?
Are they actually aware of it?
Are they fully aware how important this is to you? Or do you just think they are?
Is this behavior somehow important to them, part of their personality, habits, culture, or their own core values?
These things matter- if you're asking them to change who they are, then you're asking them to hurt themselves rather than to make you uncomfortable.
Let them be who they are. If who they are is not the kind of person you click well with, then you have a classic square-peg-round-hole situation.
3 - Is it possible that the difficulty you’re having isn’t their behavior, but instead your reaction to their behavior?
Always remember that your reactions to the world are 100% your own responsibility. No one can make you react badly to something.
A great example is if someone calls you an asshole- all they've done is made noises by moving their lips and lungs. What happens after that is All You.
Your ears hear the sounds. Your brain interprets them into words. Then into meaning. Then, sometimes, into emotional reactions, which create more physical sensations, and more reactions.
But all of this is happening in your head.
All of that is you.
If you're not sure about that. Imagine what would happen if a non English speaker walked up to you and called you an asshole, having absolutely no idea what it meant.
Would you be mad at them, even if they have no idea what word they just uttered?
It would be very unreasonable for you to assume that they intended to hurt you- even if your emotions immediately rise defensively.
Don’t always assume other are responsible for your pain. They are clearly not.
4 - Is your relationship benefiting you?
Finally, consider is the balance of your relationship.
No relationship is ever going to be perfect. There will always be parts that make you uncomfortable, no matter how perfect the rest of it is.
So the question isn't.
How do I make all of the uncomfortable bits go away?
The question is
…on balance is this relationship improving my life, or diminishing it?
As Bob Marley says…
How's your relationship? Could it be better?
That was about as perfect an answer as I could ask for. I mean that.
Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. No, there is no abuse going on. There's no violence nor gambling or drug or alcohol problems.
No, when you wrote that growth comes with discomfort, a light went on in my mind. Yes, that jd actually exactly what I needed to hear.
My wife and I have been together 14 years and have been through a lot as a team.
I love this woman entirely and fully & she likewise loves me. Yeah, it is about “just the way she is, accept her for it”.
Your answer helped me do much.You must be an amazing life coach. Thank you again.