Dating and Relationship Advice

It happens to all of us sometimes. Your partner has just said or done something that made you livid. You start arguing, your tones getting more and more strident with each response.

But suddenly you hear terrible words coming out of your mouth and you realize: this isn’t the big deal you thought it was. Maybe you completely misunderstood the situation to begin with. There’s someone who is in the wrong here, and it looks like it is you.

How you know you're in the wrong

It’s not always easy to identify bad behavior and to accept that you are the one in the wrong. Examining the situation as if it is happening to a third person can help.

For instance, if you are feeling jealous of a partner’s friend or coworker, ask yourself this: would you feel suspicious if you observed that in a friend’s relationship? Has your partner ever given you reason to feel jealous? If not, you may be the one showing toxic behavior.

In other situations, sometimes the wrong behavior is belittling or insulting the person you are in love with. If you wouldn’t want someone to talk that way to you, accept that you are the one acting badly.

Apologize in a thoughtful way

The apology is a tough part for a lot of people. Apologizing makes you vulnerable. If you grew up in the sort of family where admitting you were wrong meant getting berated for your error, it can be hard to expose yourself. But a heartfelt, sincere apology is an important step if you are going to make things right.

Start by admitting what you did or said wrong. Maybe you name-called or insulted your partner. Maybe you accused them of wrongdoing because of your own insecurity. Whatever it was, identify the behavior verbally so they know that you are aware of what you did.

Then, explain why or how it happened. This is not the same as giving an excuse. “I’m sorry I called you names, I just get really insecure,” is not an okay apology.

“I called you names and that was unacceptable. It’s a product of my insecurity and I am working on that,” shows genuine remorse.

Make changes in the future

The most important part of an apology is changing your behavior.  Often, our bad behavior comes out because we are being highly reactive. Something triggers a poor response, and we’re off and running before we really think about it.

The way out of this is to identify patterns and short circuit them before going into a full-on spiral. When you feel yourself starting to heat up and get angry, make a conscious effort to stop yourself and analyze what is going on. Are the words you are about to say kind and productive? Would you feel okay if they were said to you? If necessary, tell your partner you need a moment of quiet to think.

Change doesn’t come instantly. It can take some time to consistently recognize destructive patterns and replace them with constructive ones. But it does get easier. By making yourself more trusting and open-minded and working to be less negative and reactive, you can improve your relationships and become a better version of yourself.