Is this who they really are?
Comments I see a lot are regarding a significant other’s true self. Usually what happens is a husband or wife has an angry outburst and we are told that they finally showed their true colors. I am a bit on the fence about a cursory statement such as that but explanations always help. So let’s explore this topic a bit from a Psychological standpoint.
Let’s imagine you are dating a man or woman, all is well, and out of nowhere, you receive an angry outburst the likes of which you couldn’t imagine coming from them. You have been dating them and they seemed like the sweetest person on the planet. What went wrong? Is this who they really are? Is this a fluke or one-off instance?
When I mentioned earlier that I am on the fence on this subject, it is because individuals like to make generalizations about someone’s personality based on one moment or one aspect of their character. Someone that is usually nice can have terrifying negative emotional reactions, making them practically undateable. A generally “bad” person can still have selective outlets for positive emotional reactions, as well. We can imagine someone that treats the common person likes garbage but treats a select few insiders like gold (usually).
It is of my opinion that we are responsible for our behavior, no one is ultimately responsible for my negative feelings, and we have to limit the negativity we give to others, even though it may seem they deserve it and then some. The hardest thing I can tell young lovers is the fact that they have to be very cautious about who they let into their heart. One has to know everything about someone that they are opening their heart to, because there is room for incredible emotional harm if a Trojan horse is allowed in.
Every person is capable of being Prince Charming, no matter how much evil they harbor within their heart. In fact, those with diagnosable Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are characteristically capable of using their charisma to charm your socks off. The good news is that we have ways of looking inside of their hearts and/or exposing their negativity for assessment.
There are two things that I would look for if I was dating someone. One of them is to evaluate their prospective partner UNDER STRESS. The other is to evaluate them when you are making reasonable requests and offers in terms of love and affection. It is very hard for someone to mask their dark side if they are under stress. Usually what happens is that they become upset and forget other peoples’ feelings. This revelation exposes a (possibly) unacceptably low Emotional Intelligence. Think about it, if I was stressed, does that mean I can yell at, demean, or otherwise abuse my partner?
We are looking for durability when someone is stressed. It is normal for someone to shut down mentally; you can thank the Catecholamines for that. But the Emotionally Intelligent will shut down and filter any negativity out instead of making emotionally/physically violent outbursts. Existence of this behavior tends to imply a predictable trend, one that you can avoid if you cut the ties early on.
I also had mentioned making requests and offers regarding affection. What this does is expose your partner’s and your attachment style. If one of you is avoidant, it will be obvious quickly as one will be pushed away routinely. An “anxious” attachment style is characteristic of someone that makes a lot of requests for affection, often resorting to behaving like a child in order to manipulate their partner into coming to their rescue.
Even though these are two separate Psychological aspects, there is interplay. An “anxious” person is under stress when their attachment system is hyperactive, which means they need more attention. The “avoidant” is, likewise, under stress if they are overwhelmed by closeness. Again, we want to see how they respond to these situations. Now, I am of the opinion that we usually need to steer clear of avoidant individuals…….for many reasons. And I am not sorry to say that. Anxious individuals are 50/50. Some of them politely make “bids” for affection. And others will terrorize you for not easing their attachment system constantly.
The problem is that individuals conflate what they want as being objectively “good”. When they don’t get their desires fulfilled, the ensuing negative emotional reactions are deemed to be justified by their conscience. Again, we need to refer to lessons in Emotional Intelligence for wisdom here because no person’s feelings can be justifiably hurt. Those that are very viable partners would take the course of action of lodging a complaint against you in a mature manner.
That said, this world is not perfect. We will all have negative emotional reactions, myself included. But we are looking for the negative filters being employed. Additionally, we need to see the evidence of there being a conscience in this person when the emotional reaction has ceased. They should also be consolable. Meaning that they should accept influence from attempts to make the situation better instead of upping the ante.
If someone’s externalized negativity is difficult to deal with, then it is best that they are allowed to be single. If this is a person that you are married to, for instance, then we have options but they are more difficult.