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We Teach People How to Treat Us

How subtle can that be? We continually teach people how to treat us with every action and conversation in which we engage.

Ralph and Robin are enjoying a wonderful day together. Life is good. They have been together for years, and there have been no recent arguments. They are watching a movie together in their living room, and Ralph asks Robin to please rub his back. Robin balks and declines his request. What?! He thinks? She usually does this with no resistance. When he asks “Why,” she gives several reasons and continues to watch the movie and does not respond to his request. Ralph is upset and begins to pout, sulk, and scowl (yes, he does).

"I don't understand," he says. "You always rub my back." "Not this time," she snaps back.

Ralph's expectation has been denied, and he doesn't understand. Their wonderful day together has turned sour. What is happening here? Is Robin saying that she doesn't like nor desire to rub his back?

Out of generosity, love, and concern for him, Robin did something that was unpleasant to her. The longer she consented, the more she resented, but her actions “taught” Ralph that she didn't mind. Agreeing to do something she didn't want to do and then faking it has resulted in disaster.

“How others treat us is their karma; how you react is yours.” (unknown)

Sometimes we can tolerate things for a little while but not for an extended period. “Respectful” treatment can be easily sustained. “Enduring” what we don't enjoy cannot. Sometimes it can be endured for days, weeks, months, or even decades, but at some point, if we're doing things that we don't enjoy or don’t give us satisfaction, it is challenging to sustain and will usually end.

“We promote what we permit.” (unknown)

The fascinating point here is—since Ralph has not recognized that it's irritating for Robin to rub his back, and Robin has continued to rub his back despite her resentment and discomfort and has finally gotten enough, they both suffer. Early in a relationship, it is easy to do things that we don't necessarily enjoy but wanting to please others, we do it anyway. [Blind Spot]

“If I'm going to be mad at anyone in this relationship, it will not be me.” (unknown)

This kind of blind spot can be hazardous to a relationship. We must know when we endure more than is pleasurable.

Are there things that you do in your relationships that you resent? Will your tolerance expire soon and create discord in the relationship? Do you truly teach people how you want to be treated?

Watch for the blind spots.

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Blind Spots in Relationships

What I don't know I don't know about myself

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