Trying to navigate a relationship with a narcissist can be a difficult feat. While narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is rare, affecting less than 1% of the general population, most people demonstrate narcissistic tendencies over time.
Narcissism is marked by many traits including a lack of empathy, grandiose thoughts and behaviors, entitlement, and a strong need for validation. These traits make healthy communication and negotiation a challenge, which can lead to frustration and eventually ruin relationships. One of the major characteristics of a narcissistic negotiator is the tendency for them to overestimate the power of their position and underestimate the power of yours. This can lead to continued misunderstanding and escalation in conflict.
Admiration Vs. Rivalry
Both admiration and rivalry can play a part in how narcissists interact. Both of these traits contribute to the maintenance of a grandiose self-image. It has been shown that narcissistic traits are great for building relationships in the short-term, but are disastrous in the long-term.
A research project in 2017 found was conducted to look at the admiration behaviour vs. rivalry behaviour in narcissists. This admiration was defined as the promotion of positivity in the person's self-view. Rivalry was the tendency to protect their self-image by being negative towards others. They found that it was tendency towards needing admiration that was what helped narcissists build relationships in the short-term. However, it was the tendency towards rivalry that cause relationships to break-apart over the long-term.
It is likely that this dynamic also occurs in negotiating. In the short-term relationships can flourish, but it would be expected that negotiations would also elicit strong rivalry tendencies that could produce negative acrimonious interactions. This fluctuation between these two sides could also be disorienting for the participants and observers.
What Should You Do?
When dealing with someone who tends to show narcissistic characteristics, it is important to make sure you are able to protect your self-esteem and your feelings. If you have a relationship with someone with NPD or with someone who often shows narcissistic traits, here are a few communication tips to keep in mind:
While you can neither control nor change the actions and thought patterns of someone who behaves narcissistically, remember that you are in control of your own actions and feelings. If you feel a conversation is leading to an unproductive argument or spiraling out of control, take a step back and think about how you can stay in control of the situation. Do your best to prevent frustration on your end from negatively influencing the way you communicate with the other person. Avoid building a negative case against them in your mind or lashing out in anger by taking control of your own thoughts and actions.
Avoid Unhealthy Conversation
You might be tempted to feel negatively about yourself when communicating with a narcissist. A narcissist might display little to no empathy for your feelings or try to blame you for a conflict. While it is frustrating to solve an issue with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his or her own actions, it is important for you to remember the big picture: you are in charge of your feelings, and you do not have to give this person power over your sense of self.
When negotiating with a narcissist begins to seem one-sided or the other person stops listening and is no longer interested in a healthy dialogue, you can stop the discussion. Communicate your feelings with the other person and express that you would prefer to continue the discussion at a later time when he or she is ready to listen to and respect your feelings. Even though a narcissist might feel entitled to your time, energy, and praise, they are just one person, and you do not have to give them every single thing they want just because they demand it from you. You do not have to sacrifice your self-esteem and energy to communicate with a narcissist.
Become Aware of Narcissistic Tendencies
As you spend time with a person with NPD or narcissistic tendencies, be sure to make note of the character traits they exhibit that might lead to unhealthy communication between the two of you. By becoming aware of these traits, you know when to stop a potentially unproductive conversation or disagreement. This will also give you a starting place for learning how to develop strategies to deal with these behaviors effectively. If you cannot avoid dealing with a narcissist on a regular basis, you should practice self-care by preparing yourself to handle the different character strengths that they might misuse.
Separate the Behavior from the Person
A trademark characteristic of narcissists is the need to be validated. Effective communication will not happen if you label the other individual based on their actions. When you become aware of their narcissistic behaviors and you want to communicate your feelings, you need to make sure you separate these behaviors from the person. Use “I” statements to express your feelings instead of placing blame that might make them feel attacked or invalidated. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re selfish, and you only care about yourself” you could say, “I do not feel cared for when you do this.” Doing this provides the space for the other person to listen and change, and it will help them pinpoint an area where they need to improve.
For helpful strategies that can make it easier for you to identify narcissistic behaviors that you demonstrate or that are exhibited by somebody close to you, visit www.oakvillewellnesscenter.com.
Leahy, R. (2014). Impediments and strategies in negotiating: A cognitive therapy model. Handbook of International Negotiating.
Wurst, S. N., Gerlach, T. M., Dufner, M., et al. (2017). Narcissism and romantic relationships: The differential impact of narcissistic admiration and rivalry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(2), 280-306.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the world’s most common childhood disorders, with an estimated prevalence of 5.29%. It is also a highly misunderstood neurodevelopmental condition.
Whilst many associate it with hyperactivity and overmedication, particularly in young boys, ADHD encompasses a wide range of symptoms. ADHD is also being increasingly diagnosed in adults and girls.
ADHD is diagnosed three times more frequently in boys than girls. Not long ago, however, this figure was closer to 10 to 1. Although the margins are narrowing, by adulthood the level of diagnoses across the sexes is roughly the same - so to what can we attribute the lower rates identified in childhood?
One potential explanation is that the symptoms observed in girls and boys can be quite different. Boys tend to exhibit the more “obvious” signs of ADHD such as hyperactivity and conduct disorder, whereas the difficulties experienced by girls tend to be attentional such as daydreaming in class.
For this reason, ADHD in girls may not be as obvious in an educational setting and therefore fall under the radar.
The hyperactive symptoms more commonly displayed by boys are more likely to be problematic in the home or classroom, and may therefore more quickly draw the attention of teachers, special needs officers etc.
Girls on the other hand, tend to experience the difficulties of ADHD in a more internal manner. It has also been argued that as girls are socialised by society to behave in a more reserved manner that they are better than boys at covering up symptoms.
There is also limited public knowledge in terms of the different ways ADHD may express itself among the sexes.
So in what ways may ADHD look different in girls than boys?
An interesting paper by Rucklidge (2010) explored gender differences in ADHD. In a review of previous studies, she found a number of differences in a variety of areas.
This is potentially the most widely recognised symptom of ADHD and is the main symptom that boys tend to exhibit more than their female counterparts. Children with ADHD may find it difficult to sit still and may also exhibit impulsivity for example non- stop talking, making inappropriate comments and being impatient.
Although many children may be high-energy, in order to meet the clinical criteria for these facet of ADHD the hyperactivity and impulsivity demonstrated must be impacting the child’s life and have been doing so for six months or more.
Inattentive ADHD is that which leads to trouble focusing and being easily distracted. Children with ADHD are daydreamers who get bored easily. Whilst this could easily be said of many children, in the case of those with inattentive ADHD this leads to trouble completing schoolwork and avoiding tasks requiring focus. Children with ADHD may also be highly disorganised with messy rooms.
Again, whilst many of these are common childhood traits, those with ADHD will suffer both at home and at school due to the severity of these symptoms.
Girls display attentional ADHD more so than boys.
Tactile Defensiveness (TD) refers to both behaviours and emotional responses which are out of proportion to tactile (relating to sense of touch) stimuli. Children with TD may be overwhelmed by sensory overload and in extreme cases may find everyday activities such as having hair brushed or eating cold food intolerable.
TD is commonly associated with ADHD and is exhibited more frequently by females.
Social and Psychological Functioning:
Studies have also found some marked differences in these areas between girls and boys. Boys have been found to be more aggressive, particularly with peers. Interestingly, it has been found that girls suffer from lower self-esteem and demonstrate poorer coping strategies than boys.
This could be due to the more internalised nature of female ADHD but could also be the result of later diagnosis.
Effects of late diagnosis
Early identification and intervention are obviously important in terms of determining future outcomes. Children who receive support at home and at school are much more likely to manage their condition into the future.
Unfortunately, at present ADHD tends to be diagnosed later in girls than in boys. Until recently, the American Psychiatric Association diagnosis manual specified 7 as the cut- off age for symptoms to be evident. Although this has recently been increased to 12, it is quite possible that the narrow age- range previously provided prevented some diagnoses from being made.
Some studies estimate that as many as 50- 75 percent of girls with ADHD are not diagnosed.
Studies have found that both men and women diagnosed as adults struggle in a wide array of domains and have lower self- esteem, poorer coping strategies and higher levels of depression. In addition adults identified with ADHD later in life tend to have negative attributions about themselves.
The lack of a diagnosis may lead individuals to having their difficulties attributed to laziness or lack of ability both by themselves and others.
As of yet however, no study has compared those diagnosed during adulthood with those diagnosed during childhood.
So what should you look out for in order to spot the signs of ADHD in girls?
The following signs may indicate that ADHD is going unnoticed:
If this sounds familiar it may be worth speaking to a GP or therapist in order to further investigate the basis of these problems. Given the lack of awareness regarding girls with ADHD, and the detrimental impact of later diagnosis, it is important not to let girls with ADHD continue to fall under the radar.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Hamed, A. M., Kauer, A. J., & Stevens, H. E. (2015). Why the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder matters. Frontiers in psychiatry , 6 .
Rucklidge, J. J. (2010). Gender differences in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America , 33 (2), 357-373.
Romantic relationships are a fundamental part of life, and healthy, loving relationships can lead to some of the greatest joys available in the human experience.
Recent scholarship utilizing a conceptual framework called Self-Determination Theory has identified several core components of successful romantic relationships. Here we will examine the theory and some of its contributions to our understanding of romantic relationships.
What Is Self-Determination Theory?
Self-determination theory is a fundamental theory of human behavior that serves to organize the different tendencies and needs of human beings in order to explain the motivation for their behavior and the personalities they develop. It is a theoretical framework which is useful for exploring and explaining certain human experiences.
The fundamental concept of Self-Determination Theory, as is apparent by the name, is the idea that human beings, when they are operating as a true self, are performing actions that are self-motivated and self-determined. This is to say that an individual’s behavior is not so much determined by their surroundings, their context, or the external influences acting upon them, but rather by their own conscious ability to choose what is best and to act upon their desires.
This theory is in contrast to other theoretical frameworks, such as several frameworks that fall under the heading “Behaviorism,” which maintain that human behavior contains almost no element of true agency, and that individual actions are determined – in part or in full – by influences that are outside of the individual’s control.
Self-Determination Theory posits that three processes are responsible for a human being’s ability to act: first, there is present a mindful, reflective awareness of what the individual needs and what tendencies they desire to act upon. Second, an acknowledgment that the environment of the individual is sufficient to support the actions that it intends to take. And third, that the actions of an individual are enfolded, by various degrees, into that individual’s personality: That the individual “owns” their actions, so to speak.
Recent research utilizing a framework of Self-Determination Theory reviewed what the theory has to say on the topic of romantic relationships.
What Self-Determination Theory Says about Romantic Relationships
In a 2015 study entitled “Self-Determination Theory and Romantic Relationship Processes,” published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, the authors took a close look at past research involving Self-Determination Theory and romantic relationships, and attempted to synthesize the findings and present patterns found in the literature.
For the purposes of the study, the authors took an interest in how a true self acts in a romantic relationship, and what consequences there are to those actions. By true self, the authors referred to the self as defined by Self-Determination Theory, namely a self that has been fully internalized, fully adopted, and fully endorsed by an individual as part of their identity.
Thus, a true self in relationships is one who fully endorses one’s own involvement in a relationship, and does not blame that involvement on any other external factors such as manipulation, coercion, guilt, or lack of knowledge. The researchers were interested in examining the patterns of romantic relationships when the individuals involved are truly, wholly committed at the level of their identity.
The first useful takeaway that becomes immediately apparent from this conceptual framework is the simple idea that not all actions are performed by a true self. A very powerful feeling of awakening can arise inside a relationship when one or both parties realize that they are not truly acting according to their own needs or according to the interests of their true self, but rather simply preserving and going through the motions of what they believe they must do, or what role has been thrust upon them.
A second major takeaway of considering romantic relationships using the framework of Self-Determination Theory is the idea that the more one invests one’s identity in one’s activities, the more satisfying and fulfilling they become. This includes relationships. When the true self is acting in a relationship, there is a resounding sense of affirmation: The individual is in the relationship because they want to be, and because it is important to them. This authenticity spills over into a host of other relational benefits, including partners feeling affirmed and becoming more honest and aware of the other’s needs.
One final takeaway we will mention here among the many cited in the article is the Self-Determination Theory perspective on goals. There is a big difference in romantic relationships on the function of goals, depending on whether the individual adopts more of a victim mentality or if they act as a true self. Research has demonstrated that people who are able to pursue their own intrinsic goals autonomously inside a relationship have greater overall well-being. When both partners in a relationship are aware of what they want and can verbalize those desires so as to actively pursue them together, growth takes place and mutual satisfaction often follows.
Why This Theory Matters
In the end, Self-Determination Theory is just that – a theory. A “theory,” in the scientific sense of the word, defines a coherent and cohesive set of concepts and ideas that together form a framework of hypotheses. These hypotheses have dual value: to provide a working explanation of the phenomena of the world around us, as well as to generate specific questions that can be tested.
With this conception of Self-Determination Theory, it is apparent why there is value in considering romantic relationships from this perspective. If, using this theory, an individual is able to consider what their romantic relationships would look like if they were acting as a true self, according to the theory, they have the opportunity to learn a lot about who they are, what they want, what their relationships are like, and any number of other questions.
This is not to say that Self-Determination Theory is “true,” necessarily. Competing theories that more highly emphasize the role of the environment and of the situation in motivating human action also contain an element of truth.
Nonetheless, by interacting with these various different theories and understanding what they say about human action, an individual has the opportunity to develop their self-understanding. And with more self-understanding, particularly in the realm of intimacy and romantic awareness, comes a greater ability to experience the great joys that life has to offer.
For more information, feel free to read the above-mentioned research article, to check out any number of books on Self-Determination Theory, or to consult with a psychologist or trained mental health professional with experience in this theory.
Knee, C. R., Hadden, B. W., Porter, B., & Rodriguez, L. M. (2013). Self-Determination Theory and Romantic Relationship Processes. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17(4), 307-324.
If breaking a sweat can make you feel better, working out with your partner can definitely improve your relationship. For instance, morning jogs can be a great outlet for negative emotions thereby decreasing stress. Also, the in-between-conversations can strengthen communication lines. The endorphin hormones that get produced during exercise make couples feel synchronous, blissful, and passionate.
For those of you who exercise regularly, you perfectly understand the bliss after a good run or a basketball game. May it be yoga, brisk walks, swimming, or pumping iron, physical activities that suit your personality have been proven to improve subjective well-being. In addition, people who regularly work out tend to feel better about themselves. This positive self-esteem is quite advantageous in relationships. It would be challenging to trust and commit yourself to someone if you still have substantial security issues. Managing a relationship will certainly be easier when both of the partners are in healthy emotional states. When couples work out, they both revel in and share the fun! Hence, each partner reaps the benefits of each other’s joy.
Sweating Out Together Enhances Intimacy
According to a recent study published in The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, you tend to feel closer to someone who acts like you (Verberne, Ham, & Midden, 2015). The researchers concluded that their participants placed higher value and trust to an agent who exhibited more similarities with them. This research is similar with other papers which proved that nonverbal mimicry can fortify emotional bonds (Stel & Vonk, 2010). In application to relationships, couples who play sports, hit the gym, or jog together usually execute within each other’s pace. Therefore, they tend to mimic each other’s behavior may it be consciously or not.
Since engaging in enjoyable physical activities can lift your moods, it can also improve a marriage’s physical intimacy. In fact, a recent study which was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that exercise can significantly boost erectile and sexual function (Simon, Howard, Zapata, Frank, Freedland, & Vidal, 2015). The researchers looked into the metabolic equivalents (METS) of 295 men and those who had higher physical activity levels proved to experience better performance in the bedroom. In particular, those who had weekly 2-hour-strenuous, 3.5-hour-moderate, or 6-hour-light exercises for a week had higher sexual function scores.
Fit for Each Other
Health issues can get in the way of a myriad of delightful activities. For example, going on a family holiday would be quite taxing if you need to be concerned with a number of precautions and medical expenses. One effective way of combating diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, health ailments, obesity, and even depression is regular exercise. Furthermore, working out’s benefit in boosting energy helps in accomplishing household chores, childcare duties, and other responsibilities. Ergo, being healthy and having enough energy can help in doing more for each other.
All in all, frequently engaging in physical activities is great for you, for your partner, and for your relationship. With this active avenue, you can buttress your bond as well as bask in the pleasant experience.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Stel, M., & Vonk, R. (2010). Mimicry in social interaction: benefits for mimickers, mimickees, and their interaction. British Journal of Psychology, 101(2), 311-323.
Simon, R., Howard, L., Zapata, D., Frank, J., Freedland, S. & Vidal, A. (2015). The association of exercise with both erectile and sexual function in black and white men. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 12(5), 1202-1210.
Trust is in the heart of all human connections and interactions, which is why it’s imperative to focus on building it. Both the simplest everyday encounters and the most meaningful relationships are based on the presumption of trust.
Building trust is an individual process that every person tackles in a specific way, author Peg Streep told Psychology Today. According to her, however, relationships during early childhood years have a serious impact on building trust as an adult.
What does it take to build trust and form meaningful relationships with others? Several important factors will need to be examined.
The Nature of Trusting Trust is a virtue that can either make or break a relationship. We all know that trust takes time to build. This is a process based on patience, honesty, faith and integrity.
When you put your trust in to someone else, you expect something from them. In a relationship, however, your partner could have said or done something that will compromise the trust. In such instances, either you or your partner will end up hurt and unsafe in the relationship.
Building and nurturing trust are both essential for successful, meaningful relationships. In these modern times, social networking, texting, and other forms of virtual communication can greatly affect trust. Allowing yourself to build temptation through such activities is just as easy, as shopping in a grocery store, when you have your list. In the case of virtual temptation, all you have to do is just click that mouse button.
When it comes to trust, there are three important aspects you need to consider. Here’s the breakdown.
Aspect 1: Build Trust
At the onset of a relationship, you don’t normally put your trust lightly in your partner and neither do they. As you get to know each other better, thus trust also builds. There are additional factors that could enable you to identify whether your partner is trustworthy. Stories about your partner’s past will be sufficient to form an opinion. To be able to nurture the trust between you, certain factors should be considered:
· Communicate openly – face-to-face communication is most secure and it allows you to be more open and vulnerable with each other.
· Learn to apologize – apologizing by means of not just saying “I’m sorry,” but also meaning it. We all have our flaws, however, being able to recognize that we have done someone wrong and knowing the impact or the actions will give the apology authenticity.
· Keep your promises – follow through even with the littlest promise you make to show consistency in your actions.
· Forgive – after any apology, there should be forgiveness. Learn how to forgive your partner in order for both of you to let go of the hurt.
Aspect 2: Breaking Trust
Among the three most important aspects of trust, this is the one that can occur effortlessly.
Breaking someone’s trust only takes a matter of few seconds, words and/or actions. Not being able to keep your promise is also a way of losing your partner’s trust.
When you enter a relationship, your word is your bond. It is a form of emotional contract between two people. When you lose your trust in someone else, it breaks that bond. Issues such as physical and financial cheating, as well the inability to keep your promise in any way can break someone else’s trust. Past relationships, experiences and not being able to communicate are issues that need to be dealt with.
There’s an additional factor that contributes to breaking trust – some people have trust issues. These trust issues are an effect of going through bad relationships in the past. Trust issues are a completely different phenomenon that will need to be addressed separately.
Aspect 3: Resolving Trust Issues
Perhaps among all three, resolving the relationship problem that stems from breaking trust could be the biggest and hardest step. Unlike building trust, resolving trust will take a lot of hard work and it will often be very difficult to patch things up and reach the same level of relationship confidence as before.
You’ll be at a crossroad. The attempts to build trust once again will either make the relationship stronger or bring its end. Some couples opt for marriage counselling and therapy in hopes of saving the relationship, while others prefer to leave the relationship and move on. Assessment of individual factors will help you determine which approach is the right one.
Challenges that Stand in the Way of Building Trust In theory, building trust may sound like a simple task. In reality, however, there could be major roadblocks that stand in the way of effective communication and the ability of two people to increase the level of trust they have in each other.
Some of the biggest challenges that stand in the way of establishing relationship trust include the following:
· Withholding some of the truth – many people have dark spots in their past and episodes that they’re embarrassed of. Giving a partner misleading information or a version of the truth, however, creates the right conditions for having the trust broken later on in the relationship.
· No discussion and individual decision-making – when in a relationship, you’re a part of a team. Making decisions on your own will make a partner lose trust in you.
· Having certain expectations without communicating those – your partner or souse cannot read your mind. Clear communication of your expectations is equally important after five days and after 15 years of being in a relationship.
· Conflict without resolution – arguing with each other is a normal aspect of every relationship. If resolution doesn’t follow, however, both of you will feel dissatisfied and anxious about further communication.
Can You Repair a Relationship after the Trust is Broken? As already mentioned, repairing a relationship after the trust is broken challenges many people and they decide to leave. It’s possible to build trust once again but the process will require conscious effort on behalf of both partners.
The first step towards building trust once again is recognizing the hurt and its scope. Dismissing the feelings or trying to minimize their importance will never lead to the repair of trust. The hurt will linger on the inside and eventually, it will lead to an eruption of emotions.
In order to deal with the problem, you’ll also need to have your partner recognizing their contribution to the loss of trust. If either one of you refuses to acknowledge responsibility, you’ll have a miniature chance of repairing the broken trust.
You will also need to learn how to trust yourself, to express your feelings better and recognize your individual needs in the relationship. This kind of awareness is the key to finding happiness and balance as a part of a couple.
Building trust isn’t easy and keeping it in your relationship at all times is going to be an even more challenging task. Remember one thing – human beings make mistakes, including human beings that care deeply about you. If you and your partner are willing to put work in the process, trust can be rebuilt and it could potentially become stronger than in the beginning.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Last year, about a week before Valentine’s Day, the Marriage Foundation released the finding that marriage is getting stronger - a message that seems to go against the general message of other statistical agencies around the world.
The study, which was completed by Harry Benson, used date from the UK to find that marriage is getting stronger despite the UK Office of National Statistics indicating that the rate of divorce in the UK is continuously going up. How could these divergent findings be possible?
It seems that the conclusion all depends on how you look at the data. The UK office for National Statistics looked at the rate of divorce based on the year of the divorce while Benson compared the rate of divorce based on the year of the marriage. So it depends what you're interested in. If you're a divorce lawyer and you want to know if business is going up, then you might be happy to know that, if the trend continues, there will be more divorces in the UK next year. However, if you are getting married and you want to know your chances of success, you should be happy to know that marriages starting recently seem to be fairing better than those starting years ago.
The study found that between 1970 to 2010, couples who tied the knot during 1991 experienced the highest rate of divorce. That is, during their first five years of marriage, an average of 2.12% of them divorced. On the other hand, those who married in 2007 have an average annual divorce rate of only 1.39% per year in their first five years. When these two divorce rates are compared, it seems that those who married more recently are 35% less likely to divorce within their first five years of being together. It seems that the rate of early divorce have been falling in the UK for eight years running.
So what’s the possible impact of this study? First, it has to be said that this may not be happening in Canada. Unfortunately, Statistics Canada did not break down the divorce statistics in a way that allowed me to see if this was the case here. We don't seem to know if Canadian marriages are also getting stronger. However, this study does provide hope. Our world is more connected than ever before, so it is very possible that this is trend that could develop in other similar countries. Perhaps newer generations are finding ways to revitalize marriage. Maybe the tide is changing.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
It’s hard to keep control… especially with your significant other. With traffic, narcissistic bosses, and gossiping co-workers it can feel like some days everything is trying to push you over the edge. Still, in spite of it all, you have to keep your cool, at least until you get home. Then, one comment or sideways look from the person you love most can cause you to lose your temper, leaving you feeling out of control and hopeless at the end of the day. Does this describe you, or perhaps your partner?
Maybe you’ve noticed how people can be boiling mad and then answer the phone in a calm or even cheerful voice. People often say they can’t control their anger, and then you see an odd behaviour like this. It seems that the situation matters. In some we can control ourselves perfectly, while in others it all spills over.
I often have people in my office tell me that they don’t have anger problems in most of their life, but then they get home and suddenly they can’t control their temper. So I guess the question is, do we get angrier with our romantic partners?
The research actually says the opposite of this. Authors of a study that just came out in 2014 say that people, generally speaking, are not as angry with their partner as they are with others in the community. This is likely surprising for the many people out there experiencing regular domestic disputes!
So why then do people seem to be angrier with their romantic partners? Well, the researchers also found that people suppress their anger less with romantic partners. It seems that even though you might be more angry with your neighbour, he or she isn’t as likely to hear about it. Spouses, on the other hand, will hear all about much smaller mistakes. It seems we just feel more comfortable letting our anger out when it is directed towards a familiar and likely safer target.
This doesn’t just apply to men either. Women seem to have just as much, or even more, anger than men. The research suggests that younger women have greater intensity and expression of anger than men. This, again, is not consistent with general stereotypes that men are angrier than women. These women weren’t just angrier, they were more likely to act out their anger, especially in countries with greater gender empowerment, like the United States or Canada. It should be said, that women do seem to suppress their anger more with age.
Hostility has been shown to be a predictor of overall relationship difficulty and eventual break-up. This is especially true of women’s anger. When women were found to have personalities prone to anger, their relationships had lower marital adjustment scores. Men’s anger is problematic for relationships, but not to the same degree. Of course, although women may be more angry than men, and may even act out that anger more than men, generally speaking, men cause more physical harm when they become aggressive.
Men and women don’t get angrier with their partners than they do with others, but they do express it more. Although it might not be nice to face your partner’s anger, perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that they are likely angrier with their boss or neighbour, you’re just the one who has to hear about it.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Kocur, J. L., & Deffenbacher, J. L. (2014). Anger and Anger’s Expression Generally in Romantic Relationships. Contemporary Family Therapy, 36, 120-134.