Treat others the way they treat you
-> Treat others the way you want to be treated
-> Treat others the way they want to be treated
The first level is eye for an eye. They treat you well, you treat them well. They treat you bad, you treat them bad. There is a vengeance and cruelty to it.
The second level is narcissistic. You train and build yourself up with firm values, and then assert them on others regardless of whether it is right for the other person or not. You don’t acknowledge the beauty there is in the uniqueness of every person. You don’t acknowledge that people are individuals to be treated differently. You treat them all the same based on your own thoughts.
The third level is compassionate and respectful. You listen, empathize, then give according to how they wish to receive. The only way to effectively give love is to understand how the other person receives love. How they receive love in reality is often not the same as what they say in words, because they may lack self awareness or there could be miscommunication. Try different ways of giving love, and watch how they react. Go with what they like and enjoy receiving, not what you like to give.
Often times you want something so you hold onto it so that it stays yours. However, this is selfish because you are only considering what you want. When it comes to many things in life, there are other people involved and they are allowed to want different things.
I recently wanted to repair a relationship by sending an apology, but this person did not want to forgive me and this made me feel very bad. How could they not forgive me? How can I live with myself knowing that this person isn’t going to forgive me for something I did unintentionally and accidentally? In the end, I realized two things. First, life goes on and it’s totally fine for the person to not forgive me: it doesn’t affect my life that much. I am living true to my values by acknowledging my mistakes and offering an apology. Second, forgiveness is their choice to give and it’s not in my control to get it.
The mindset shift from “How do I get forgiven” to “How do I learn and grow from this” was an extremely long journey, but ultimately what it took was letting go of trying to get forgiveness, and accepting that I’ll learn, grow, and move on.
It was surprising for me to realize that an action as pure and well intended as giving an apology could be perceived by the other person as a negative thing. However, I learned that you can’t control how others see you, and you can’t control if they forgive you, so you have to let go of what you can’t control.
The healthy decision is to let go. Let them go. They chose to leave, let them go. Do nothing. Don’t try to catch them. Don’t try to chase them. Trying to catch or chase them is trying to control the situation. They know where to find you. Give them the freedom to choose to come back for as the old quote goes “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.”
In a relationship fight, once trust is lost, the details don’t matter because if you don’t trust the other person than nothing they say or do will be able to restore your trust. So it’s important to recognize when you’re in a fight where the real reason for the fight is that you lost trust in each other. Then stop focusing on the details of the fight and figure out how to regain trust.
In general, if your fight lasts longer than 30 minutes, take a break. Most things can be explained in 1-5 minutes, so if you both speak twice and ask follow questions, you should finish in under 20 minutes. The fact that your argument reached 30 minutes means you’re not hearing each other, so take a break and try again when you can hear each other.
When you do resume your fight after a break, it’s good to reset the conversation by describing the outcome you want and the good faith you are putting in. For example, you start by saying: the goal is to find a path forward we can both choose freely, independently, and willingly to happily take together. We do or do not trust each other to have good intentions. We do or do not trust each other period.
If the answer to trust is no, then don’t even start the argument. Work on the trust first.
To work on the trust (this advice also works for the argument itself) do the following:
- Reach an understanding of how the trust was lost. Tell the story of how the trust was lost. Start telling the story by describing what details were observed, and then describe what assumptions were made, and finally describe what conclusions were reached. The other person should listen only to understand, not to argue or disagree with the logic. Accept it as how the other person thinks and sees the world.
- Reach an agreement on what can be done to restore the trust. What actions or knowledge can be provided to restore trust.
- Work together to achieve what you agree on