Fighting with loved ones

By Dr Anjana Kannankara

We all have that one person in our lives with whom we argue and fight but still can’t resist speaking to them”.
Emotions are indeed strong so we ought to display them wisely and in the right manner to strengthen the bonds and also to engage our near and dear ones in the same experience we find ourselves in. Despite the strong affection and gratitude in our minds, we sometimes lack the ability to express how we feel, how we care about our family or loved ones simply because we do not realise the importance of conveying.
Has this thought ever crossed your mind that why do we fight with the people we love the most?
It’s an interesting concept, the whole of which is hard to explain. The fact remains that we act in a more volatile manner with the people we’d feel most devastated to lose.
Well, shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t we be fighting the least with the people who are willing to overlook even our most compromising flaws? But science says that half the time we tap into our belligerent selves, we are not even trying to be malicious; we unconsciously act aggressively because that’s just part of being human; that’s just the way we are made! However, human psychology lays down a few simple reasons.
Expression of true emotions
We feel safe in pouring out the honest emotions around the people we love and trust the most because we believe we don’t need to filter or sugarcoat anything. The urge to show our sincerity, to just be ourselves, brings forth a necessity to not hide anything in front of our beloved ones. We take it for granted that our aggression can be understood by them. But if the other person does not take it the same way, the result would be damaging.
High expectations
With our dear ones, we expect them to put our needs at high priority as their own. They are the people whose needs we would keep above our own and quite naturally we would expect that they’ll do the same for us! So when we find that we are not getting back what we think we bestow on them unconditionally, the situation explodes!
Familiarity breeds contempt
We might be aware of all the secrets and past stories about the people who are close to us. The sad part is that many a time we can’t resist using their past mistakes as weapons simply to win the argument. This would create a sense of distrust and resentment in the mind of the other person. One should be very careful not to play with the emotions of someone because we may win the argument but will lose the person forever.
Highest value for relation
Deep inside our minds, we give highest prominence to the relationship with our family or friends, hence we wish to explore all means, clear the misunderstandings and resolve all differences, to carry on smoothly but unfortunately end up being persistent causing discomfort to others in due course, leading to fights or arguments. If not for the value given for the relationship, why else would we waste all that energy and emotion in trying to work each one of the conflicts out? In any case, no healthy relationship can be built on silent treatments!
Caring too much
For us our dear ones and their feelings matter too much. We would rather bear the pain of going through the daily fights than live away from them! We know we need them just like the air we breathe and can’t ever think of walking away. While fights are disruptive, more often than not they result in solutions that make for a better relationship. But sometimes the hurt caused might evolve into deep wounds that can never be healed.
Wearing no masks
We tend to be brutally honest with them — in a way that we can’t be with the rest of the world is another reason for a fight to erupt. We often blurt out harsh truths that may upset them, about a particular look, attire or a trait but all we really intend is to lay out the reality exactly as it is, without any sweet talking. After all, we feel it’s our duty to try saving the person we love from getting hurt before anyone else pointing fingers at them. They might think we’re their worst critics, but actually our efforts to save them from embarrassing moments might not be grasped well by the other person.
Lower tolerance level
When it comes to the rest of the world, we believe we have to double check what the outcome of each action will be! May be we have a mentality to not interfere or create a scene with strangers or acquaintances even when they commit grave mistakes, as it doesn’t matter to us! But with family or dear ones, we are part of them and would never able to tolerate even the smallest mistakes that they make!
For some extra attention
At times it would be just craving for a little extra attention. While picking up a fight with mom or sister or brother just because of what a horrible day it was at work or school, what we really mean to say is “please give me some extra attention”. A little love and pampering — who wouldn’t want that?
It is commonly found that there exists a healthy possessiveness in relationships but usually does not become a cause for worry. If it crosses a reasonable limit, stress and pressure mounts upon the people concerned. Usually, we consider our dear ones as our ‘own’, where controlling, domineering, intruding on other’s boundaries and disrespect other’s inherent independence might occur unintentionally. Needless to say, fights are only byproducts in such circumstances.
All fights arise from insecurities. As a matter of fact, there are experts who opine that fights are demands placed indirectlly. The idea of making demands often arises with the thought of rejections. Each fight with a dear one is an effort to place our views upon theirs; a desperate struggle to make ourselves heard! But of course, when both hands come together to clap, there is no escape from a distressing fight.
As the bottom line, fights often occur when emotions combined with unhappiness take a toll on the parties concerned. Let us all learn to value the feelings of each other, understand the moods of the other person, provide some comfort from our side and bring ourselves out of insecurities. The pain caused by those who matter is the same for all hearts. Be it mom, brother, kid or friend — let’s try treating them exactly the way we wish to be treated by them; enjoy loving them unconditionally and believe me, it would work wonders in the relationship. Sure, we all wish to be heard, but do remember — we can make ourselves heard calmly too!

(The author is director,
TGL Foundation, and
senior director, FWO)

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