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No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

Imagine that after an extremely difficult day at the office, a man comes home to his significant other. All he wants to do is relax and get some of the stress off his chest. When he’s finished talking, however, his partner starts going on and on about what he should or shouldn’t have done throughout the day.

Or what about the situation where a woman buys herself a new outfit that she loves. She took a lot of time picking it out and feels really good about the way she looks with it on. So, she wears it out one day with her family. Her significant other notices the new dress and offers this critique: “It makes you look fat.”

Both of these situations happen far more frequently than they should and neither one is healthy for relationships. You can only imagine how the rest of those stories went, and all because of some unsolicited advice.

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Most of the time, your significant other just wants someone to listen to them.

As you go about your daily life, try to avoid giving criticisms or offering feedback to people that haven’t asked for it. Especially with your romantic partner. Looking for some relationship advice? Unless they specifically ask for your opinion, they probably just want you to listen to them. Most of the time, your partner turns to your for comfort.

Giving unsolicited advice can be damaging to your relationship.

How do you think it feels to be hit in the face with criticisms when all you really wanted was some understanding? Not good, right? Every time you offer up your advice without being asked, it’s called giving “unauthorized feedback”. All of those moments of unauthorized feedback between the two of you is slowly eating away at the solid foundation of your relationship.

Giving advice is hard, even with the best intentions.

The problem is, giving feedback to our loved ones is hard. We think we can be direct with our friends, family, and romantic partners because we share really close relationships with them. So with all of the confidence in the world, we go about our days making small comments and offering our opinions about the things they have done, the things they are doing, and the things they will do.

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We don’t mean anything by it, we’re just trying to help the people we love. Instead, our little comments and opinions can actually end up hurting other people. This hurt may not be in a big way, not at first. But over time, all the little pieces of unsolicited advice and all the little feelings of hurt that they cause start to add up, chipping away at the relationship little by little. Before long, we’ve created a big ball of pain – an obstacle to happiness in our relationship.

The way you give advice always matters.

Does this mean you should stop giving advice and keep your opinions to yourself? Absolutely not. Every bit of relationship advice out there tells us that clear and honest communication is the key to a healthy and happy relationship.

What’s important is how you talk to your partner and give your opinions. Advice should be given so that it gives each person the opportunity to grow. The last thing you want is to cause disturbances between you and your partner.

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Before giving feedback to your partner, ask for permission.

You can change the vicious cycle of unauthorized feedback by simply asking for permission first. According to relationship advice from Margie Warrell, one question can make all the difference in the world: “Can I share some feedback with you that I hope will be helpful?”[1]

Think about when your partner talks to you about a difficult professional relationship with one of their coworkers. While you’re listening, they tell you about something they said or did to their coworker and you think it may be the cause of their problem.

Now, imagine you just come right out and say, “Well, you shouldn’t have said ___.” What did you just do? That’s right, you instigated an argument by putting your partner on the defense or making them feel bad. Now take that same situation and imagine you say, “You know what, I noticed something about what you said. Do you mind if I give you my opinion on the matter?” Once you have your partner’s consent, you can proceed with your feedback. You’ve opened up the lines of communication in your relationship.

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Don’t focus on what “should have” happened, focus on what should happen.

Remember this relationship advice: When giving your partner feedback, don’t focus on what you think they should have done. Instead, offer feedback about what they could do in the future. This way, you’re giving your partner more than just an emotional opinion that could damage your relationship. You’re giving them information that could help them become a better person in the future. And that’s what romantic relationships are about, helping each other grow.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

What Makes a Relationship Boring and How to Avoid It How to Know If You’re Really in Love or Not (Yes It Can Be Confusing) Why You and Your Partner Don’t Need to Speak the Same Love Language to Stay Together Why Worrying About Losing a Friend Is Unnecessary No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

What is a narcissistic personality?

Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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Traits of a narcissist:

  • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
  • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
  • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
  • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
  • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

How are narcissists different from others?

Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

Why do people become narcissists?

1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

How to deal with a narcissist?

1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

8. Learn when to walk away.

When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

Reference

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