We on many occasions are unkind to our partners. Not in big ways, but rather in infinite tiny ways. Little, countless cuts, every day.
We tease. We complain. We ignore. We nitpick. We nag. We neg. “Negging,” it is when you deliberately cut someone down while flirting in order to lower their confidence. It’s usually done by people who don’t have enough confidence of their own. And while some people do it while flirting, there are way more of us who carry it on into our actual relationships and keep it going there, too.
In that space, we call it “love,” with it postured as though it’s “loving” we’re all so quick to smile and nod and accept it as such but it’s not. It’s just a bad violation of boundaries, and insecurity.
Don’t apologize for your partner’s “behavior” after they leave the room. It’s poor form pretty much no matter the reason. Either way, apologizing for your partner undermines your “partner-hood.”
We were once out with friends and it was getting late, so one of the husbands politely said goodnight to the table, kissed his beloved wife goodbye, and headed out. The minute he was gone, she groaned, “ugh, sorry about him.”
I stared at her.
The dude hadn’t done anything wrong. He was a totally nice person who had been nothing but polite and was just ready to go to sleep. Which made her look imbalanced and unfair in comparison.
If you’re apologizing on behalf of your partner the minute they step away, you all need to stop. If you feel compelled to “win points” socially at the cost of your partner, you should seriously re-evaluate your priorities. The only time it’s really okay to apologize “for” your partner is if it was a one-time thing and your partner was really not in their right mind — i.e., they would apologize too, if they could. Because that’s exactly what he would’ve done had he been his normal self, so apologizing in a case like this is being a unit.
The problem is that “love’’ makes us feel insecure. We’re vulnerable, we’re exposed, we hang too much of our identity on our partner and we expect them to embody too much. We get insecure and then we let that insecurity turn into hurting others.
Love is about starting to take responsibility and define better boundaries. It’s acknowledging what’s our domain and what isn’t, and identifying the real issue behind our “issue” with stupid shits like fighting over a shirt, or why publicly announcing that someone is the “love of your life” is more important than actually treating them like the love of your life.
There are actually a couple of things at play here, and the first thing is boundaries.
It’s not healthy to nitpick what shirt your spouse wants to wear especially if they specifically picked a shirt they thought you’d like. Your controlling behavior isn’t cute — you’re being a monster. Let them dress how they want to dress. It’s their body. They are not your public status symbol. They are a person. Unless they dress really shity.
“What’s important to you is important to me”
This is the biggest thing.
Loving someone means honoring their values. It means celebrating and making space in your lives for the things that are important to them as long as those things are healthy.
As long as their interests aren’t gambling or strip clubs or drugs or booze or whatever else, I mean, let them have comic books! Let them buy the car! Let them bake and make dad jokes and wear the shirt they like that you hate.
In fact, “let them” have these things — because you don’t own them. Rather, encourage them to have, support them in having these things that make their heart sing. Because doing so and seeing how much happiness it brings them should make your heart happy in return.
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