Have you ever noticed that you treat all kinds of people differently? Have you ever thought about how you treat people you love as opposed to how you treat people you just meet? Everyone does! This week we are going to explore:
How You Treat People You Want To Like VS People You Want To Love
No matter what “type” of person you are, it's a fact that you treat different people….differently. You treat your family, friends, and acquaintances differently. And even may treat people within those groups differently on an individual basis.
How do you treat people you want to be friends with?
How do you treat people you love?
How do you treat people that you literally have no interest in?
Most people put on their best behavior when first meeting people, dying to make a good impression. This can work in our favor by allowing us to win friends or make sure our significant others’ parents like us. This can also work against us by getting too excited and overdoing it, or even give off a slightly disingenuous vibe to our interactions.
Laughing at every joke of our new friend, seeming needy when trying to get their contact info or making plans to hang out in the future... This can get really weird.
But what about after that? How does this change as you get to know or start to love someone?
Often times when really care about someone, our behavior changes and our treatment/judgment can become a little harsher. We care about these people on such a deep level that our expectations become really high for them and our analysis gets more granular.
If you have not read my previous post on "How To Like People - Having High Standards But Low Expectations" please give it a read. It explores how to make friends and keep them by having high standards for the type of people you let in, but not letting your high expectations ruin your view of them.
This shows up as a problem when we start arguments over small things like something they said as a joke or in passing. We get affected by their every word. Their opinions, perspectives, and actions are all up for judgment because when we first met them we either overlooked or disregarded them in order to form that connection.
Disagreement can become betrayal. When they say/do something that doesn’t line up with our idealized view of them, we feel like we don’t even know them.
This leads to a big difference in how we treat the people we want to like versus the people we want to love. It makes us harsh and nit-picky in a way that can ruin relationships.
How do we keep that curious and accepting mindset with the people that mean the world to us? Why do we let these mindsets taint relationships and degrade the view we have of people we hold close?
The answer is to know what you are signing up for when you want to love someone. Love is something that should not be taken lightly, and we need to commit to the principles and guidelines of love to keep it healthy.
To love someone is to love them for all of their perfections and imperfections. It means that you are going to grow together as people and help each other live better, happier lives.
Really think about how you impact the ones you love. Do you spread positivity in their lives? Do you offer support when they are in need? Do you listen, or just wait to talk? Do you care enough about them to see that you can help them improve if you are willing to let go of the urge to be right some of the time?
I struggle with is quite a bit. I am supportive and extremely uplifting to people when I first meet them. I am on their team and am genuinely interested in who they are and what they have to say. But when I get people close, I am often too hard on them. I will argue with them, making them prove me wrong or defend themselves ad infinitum.
Weirdly enough, I do this out of love. I want to make sure they know why they think a certain way or did something with the deliberation I expect from them. I take offense to things they say, especially when it is pointing out something about me. My judgment comes out in harsh words and tirelessly contrarian (devil’s advocate) behavior. I make them PROVE me wrong. Even though I will likely use what they said to better my view or behavior in the future, I will hardly ever give them the satisfaction of being right in that moment.
I see this in other people all the time. Wives get hasty when their husband slips up and says something stupid. Boyfriends will get mad at their girlfriend for undermining them on the simplest of decisions. Friends get offended and strike back with hurtful truths in front of a group of people to prove a point.
How do we fix this, or at least stop ourselves from doing it in a destructive way?
Here are a few ways I have found that help me still give feedback and refrain from hurting the ones we love.
Open Up A Line Of Communication:
- This is the MOST important part. We need to be honest with people about how we like to be communicated to and what is off limits. The part of this that makes a difference is agreeing to be open, honest, and supportive of each other with the end goal of making each other better. Pretending nothing will go wrong is a flawed strategy. Instead, clearly state your preferences on how the other person should communicate their distrust, disappointment, offense, or give constructive feedback.
Never Lash Out In Front Of Other People:
- This is huge. If the one you love does something dumb, NEVER call them out or strike back in front of other people. This will not lead to them taking it well and will actually lead to you both looking like shit. Instead, have a safe word or certain touch that tells them, “you just did something that I don’t like, you need to check yourself and we will talk about it later if necessary.” This relieves tensions and emotions and will de-escalate this situation avoiding a blow out argument. Just don't overdo it. DONT BE NAGGY OR MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE THEY ARE WALKING ON EGGSHELLS! THAT EVEN WORSE!
- For example, someone I hold close and I have agreed to say, “I'm not sure what you meant by that, can you say that in a different way?” This tells us that we are going down an argumentative hole and we need to stop it before it becomes hurtful.
Check Your Emotions At The Door:
- Emotions fucking suck. They cloud our judgment and turn us into irrational assholes…. So instead, make sure your emotions stay out of clear communication. If you want to show love, show compassion and empathy. If you want to show disappointment, give them examples of why and how they could do better. Emotions only make this harder.
Take Your Ego Out Of It:
- This should be first due to its importance but it may be the hardest thing to do and even harder to give advice on. The main point is to make sure that you are not fighting just to be right. Your need to be right or superior will just lead to unnecessary tensions that will grow into something bigger. When giving feedback, don’t just say what worked for you and they should do the same thing. Put yourself in their shoes and figure out if they are even ready to have that conversation. Your goal is to make each other better, not prove each other wrong.
Remember The Rules Of Love:
- Again love is about acceptance. Love is not a contract that says they have to meet all of your expectations. You also have to feed love to keep it healthy. It will always feel like you are putting in more effort than them, but that's what it takes. Keep loving, keep being your best lover, friend, partner in crime.
Drop Negative People:
- If you love someone that continually hurts you, you need to make the hard decision to distance yourself from them. Just because we love them doesn’t make them good people or force them to treat us with love. Know when someone is abusive, uncommunicative, or does not share the same willingness to improve as you do. Share your love for the ones who deserve it; deserve you.
Why It’s Important:
Is there anything more important than finding people you love? It's hard enough to find people to love, it's important to learn how to keep and grow that love.
The best part about this is that if people treat each other with love and compassion, it will make you BOTH better. You will now have someone that can tell you how to improve and give you the support you will need to make a real change.
And lastly, it will make you easier to love. You will be someone that people want to be around and connect with. Your love will attract love.
So next time you are putting on your best behavior for someone new, think about how you act towards them. Think about how much of that attitude you could use on people you love. Next time you get upset or affected in any way by someone you love, treat them with love. Remember those six things, and you will open up a new way to communicate and connect with the people you want to. Both of your hearts will thank you!