When people know one another well, they become aware of behaviors the other has that they like. These lead to appreciation. But knowing someone well also means to become aware of behaviors one doesn’t like. A possible reaction to the tension between behaviors one likes, and one doesn’t like is to become very aware of behaviors one sees as best to avoid.
The belief in such a situation is that a harmonious relationship is sustained by avoiding behaviors that feel uncomfortable. It comes along with the belief that the behaviors that feel uncomfortable are based on something the other person can’t do or doesn’t do well.
However, as it rarely is possible to avoid a behavior over the long run, what happens is that the behavior then is addressed when it has become unavoidable. It’s the moment when one’s frustration with that behavior has become so strong that the frustration can’t be contained anymore. The emotion linked to that frustration has taken over and the person has become emotional.
When emotions have taken over, they grab as much attention as they can. They take the attention span away and the ability to focus one’s thinking beyond the felt emotion. Clear thinking is out of reach.
What seemed out of one’s control suddenly became a hope: “If the other could see my frustration they surely will change their behavior.” Or. “If they could see what is wrong about their behavior, they will understand how useful it is to change it.”
It’s when things have become personal.
What has come out of sight in such moments, is what both wanted to achieve together. May it be a healthy and appreciative relationship or a task both wanted to work on together.
And maybe even more difficult: it’s the moment in which whatever one’s own experience is, it can’t be named and maybe even felt anymore. It has slid out of awareness. And with it, what has slid out of awareness is what one needs, what it is, that is at the core of the frustration. Now the change we hope the other to be capable of is there to prevent us from experiencing a need that will go unfulfilled. It is there to prevent us from experiencing the fear that it will be unfulfilled – yet again.
However, our ability to name that need is what gives us a chance to have one’s need fulfilled. It helps us see what we want from the other. Our awareness of that need helps us see through the fear that it might be unfulfilled – yet again.