The ending of a relationship is normally an intense time, generally as much for the person deciding to make the break as for the person being broken up at. Possibly “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, but a woman scorning can usually run her a close second, and although we guys might (stereotypically, in the least) approach these things with unique strategies, it is probably reasonable to say that we're all capable of letting out words that would make us cringe if we said them in much easier circumstances.
Now I've on no account met Donald; for all I know he could be the perfect gentleman. In spite of this, suffice to say that's not how he seemed in KS's map of the world - I was knowing what she told me on this juncture was, well, intended (is that the right word, though?) to be highly critical.
So how did this comment get into the limelight? Where's the learning? Very well, fortunately for me, although the end of the relationship arrived as a huge and repulsive shock, I was 100% certain that I was not abusive. And so I started producing a translation of KS's words, and what I could come up with was this:
I'd thought that this relationship would be really great
I now consider it isn't, so I am confused and, naturally, disappointed
Of my two previous major relationships, one was signified by boredom, the other by abuse, and there's no way I can see you as uninteresting!
Thus my unconscious map of what failing relationships are like implications you should fall into the other category
And because I am feeling perplexed and disappointed (see above), I hurt
So I am scared I currently don't have the resources to seek a third option
Normal service will be resumed as early as possible
Now certainly I did not impress this translation on KS (because flying crockery hurts!), but it assisted me to negotiate her, and my, feelings at the end of the relationship without including an extra emotional burden to the process.
However regardless of the good fortune of being in a space on this occasion where I can handle this seemingly harsh criticism quite proficiently, the circumstances set me thinking. How many times had I been faced with words, usually just as short and often significantly less directly critical, that I'd taken quite personally, leading to a toxic cocktail of anger, self-pity, confusion and/or self-recrimination? And how much fallout had I lived with consequently? It was a really frightening thought.
So I determined:
And do it ingeniously.
Give the speaker the benefit of the doubt, for their sake, yes, and - particularly - for the sake of my very own current and future happiness.
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Another way to listen to criticism