Love & Family


Passive Communicators

Passive communicators go along with the other person’s ideas, narratives and suggestions. They avoid conflicts and confrontations. They appear anxious, afraid of disapproval and are often having poor eye contact or posture.

In a relationship, these people bottle up their emotions and do what their partner plans or does. It is a ‘doom scenario’ if both partners are passive.

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Love & Family

An aggressive communicator is demanding, defensive, dominating and even hostile. They are poor listeners, always having something to say. They maintain direct eye contact and often use a harsh tone.

An aggressive communicator can be a problem in a relationship, as they don’t know when to stop yelling, refusing to back down or not considering their partner's feelings.

One needs to figure out their own style and change it if needed. One can take a few seconds before responding and reflect upon what they have listened to with intent.

The first step is to validate the person’s feelings, making them feel heard and listened to. The listening part is even more crucial than the solution or the remedy, which won’t be impactful if provided before hearing out the person fully.

Assertive communicators are self-confident, clear and open. They can share their opinion with calmness and are generally considerate of the differences of outlook.

In relationships, assertive people have healthy discussions, as they are also good listeners. Due to this ability to listen well, they have certain security with sharing their own opinions, thoughts and feelings while speaking.

Also known as the confuser, a passive-aggressive communicator is a bundle of contradictions. They can be easily frustrated, resentful, unable to say what they want to say, making good use of sarcasm, indirect communication, criticism and complaining. People interacting with them are often alienated.

In a relationship, these kinds of communicators are the ones harbouring subtle anger, not telling if something is wrong, preferring the silent treatment. A lot of this behaviour feels like emotional abuse to the partner.

Depending on the circumstance and the stance of the partner, one should know which type of communication is to be used, and when it has to be changed. Talking should be paired with listening, and your partner should have a safe place to express their feelings fully.

Make sure your words and actions are on the same platform, with no contradiction between them. If you think you are ‘spent’ and it is too late, you can bring in a trained relationship specialist for help.

When help-rejecting complainers feel heard, they may eventually realise that they can change their position. But they may also continue to complain incessantly.

In that case, you can set a compassionate boundary where you validate their suffering and admit that you don't think listening to what's bothering them is helping. Then change the conversation. Whenever they complain, remind them of your limit and redirect the conversation.

Don't try to challenge their belief system. The best thing to do is to over-validate their position but without any trace of sarcasm. For example, "Your boss should be fired. It's terrible that there's absolutely nothing you can do to make things better."

Once they feel understood, there's not a lot more to say. They will also hear their own complaint from you and may turn the argument. "My boss is awful, but I don't know if I'll be there forever."

The help-rejecting complainer

We all go through challenging periods in our lives and may find it helpful to talk with friends or family about our struggles.

But for a help-rejecting complainer, complaining is a way of life. They don't want help, only sympathy and validation for their perception of being mistreated and their inability to improve their situation. Because help-rejecting complainers don't want solutions, they tend to drain the energy from the people around them.

They often suffer from an underlying depression, and depression skews their thinking and make them feel helpless. They also feel lonely, unheard, and unseen in their pain.

They want to connect, but because they are help-rejecting complainers, they push people away, creating a vicious cycle.

The stabilizing effect of routines and rituals

Hard anniversaries, like the birthday of someone we've lost, are helped by routines and rituals. They create a grounding structure with a reassuring and stabilising effect.

  • Routines are repetitive actions to help us develop skills while creating continuity and order.
  • Rituals are routines elevated by creativity, driven by intention, and injected with meaning. Rituals help us through transitions. If setting the table is a routine, a ritual is taking the special china and making grandma's favourite recipe to remember her and process the time passed since her death.

Our problems stem from responding to difficult people in a way that we learned to do as children. We may react as squashed; we may sulk or feel it is our fault; we may build up resentment.

We probably cannot change who we are attracted to. The answer is also not the end the relationship, but rather to learn to respond in a more mature and constructive manner around our partner's less mature sides.

The choice of who we love

We look for people to love that recreate the feelings of love we knew from childhood. But the love we absorbed in childhood was intermingled with painful aspects: a feeling of not measuring up; a love for a fragile parent.

This predisposes us to pick partners with whom we feel familiar with and who are not necessarily kind to us. Instead of aiming for changing our partners or finding someone else, it may be wiser to adjust how we respond and behave around occasionally difficult people.

If the following things sound familiar and common, we may be involved in a gaslighting relationship:

  1. Being labelled as too sensitive, hysterical or insecure.
  2. Feeling confused or even crazy in the relationship.
  3. Always saying sorry.
  4. Not able to understand why you are not happier.
  5. Having trouble making simple decisions.
  6. Being called paranoid or dramatic.

Gaslighters more often than not turn out to be males, with the ‘victim’ being female.

  • A 1938 mystery thriller Gas Light, which got made into a popular Ingrid Bergman movie in 1944, became the origin of the phrase.
  • The academic world got introduced to the phrase in journal articles of 1980, where experts observed that the conditioning of young women to long and yearn for relationships and connections are in a way gaslighting, as it makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
  • In the present time, self-help and relationship books, along with couple-counselling experts use this term to explain types of toxic relationships.
Gaslighting: A Primer

To gaslight means to undermine a person’s reality by denying the environment, facts, emotions and feelings. A person who is gaslighted is often manipulated into turning against their own perceptions and fundamentals.

Gaslighting has now gained mainstream visibility as a form of manipulation and can be detrimental for one’s emotional, psychological and physical well-being.

The antidote to gaslighting is to be emotionally aware. One has to become self-reliant and stop being gullible.

  1. Identify the problem that you have with your spouse.
  2. Remove the distortions and sort out the truth.
  3. Understand that there is a power struggle with your partner.
  4. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
  5. Respect yourself.
  6. Understand that it is okay to leave someone if required.
  7. Talk to your friends
  8. Focus on how you feel and not on how something is factually right or wrong.
  9. Realize that even if you are right, you cannot control the opinion of others.
  10. Indulge in self-care and self-compassion.
  • The need to prove oneself right, or prove the other person wrong, to deflect responsibility, or to tear down the other person, is not a trait for most people by birth but is a gift of society.
  • Gaslighters learn from the environment, forming their own strategies of what influences and persuades other people. They believe that each relationship is a power struggle, where they have to assert themselves.
  • Some people doing gaslighting might not be even aware of it, and it could be an unconscious bad habit picked up from their friends and relationships.

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