What exactly is hostility in relationships? Hostility is a deeper version of dislike, often leading to disrespect, contempt, and a conscious decision to hurt another person. Within a relationship, hostility can be a huge deal breaker, causing rifts in couples and ultimately ending their love for each other. This is why hostility is something that should be addressed even before it rears its ugly head. The question is, how exactly do you deal with this kind of situation? Following are some important information that you should know when it comes to hostility in relationships.
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Causes of Hostility
There are numerous reasons why dislike starts in a relationship and festers into hostility. Following are just some of the factors that might cause this situation:
- A feeling of imbalance in the relationship. It could be because you feel as though your partner is capable of contributing more to the relationship when it comes to money. Perhaps you feel envious that your partner is more fulfilled outside the relationship. In some cases, hostility starts with envy due to inequality with work, family and friend relations.
- You might be feeling hostile due to differences in your personal values and beliefs. For example, you might have strong feelings against a specific political issue while your partner takes the other side. This strong difference between your opinions can spark a dislike that extends to all other aspects of life.
- Hostility may also stem from resentment if you feel as though your partner is taking you for granted. This might be because you are spending less time together or perhaps your partner pays less attention to your opinions. This leads to feelings of rejection which causes you to lash back in hostility.
- There’s also a good chance that you’re being hostile because you feel bad or are stressed out. People who have had a bad day often release their frustration by becoming contemptuous of other people.
- Another cause of hostility could be insecurity. Please read our full article on that subject matter here: “How to overcome insecurity in a relationship”.
Signs of Hostility
The problem with hostility in relationships is that you rarely notice you’re being hostile to your partner. Individuals who are showing great dislike often have their emotions turned inwards. This means that instead of wondering what your hostility is doing to your partner, you are just focusing on your own chaotic emotions. If you take one emotional step backward however, you’d be able to see some signs of hostility coming from you:
- Name calling such as “jerk” and “moron.”
- Verbal insults meant to hurt one’s ego or cause real emotional pain.
- Derogatory comments told to friends or family regarding your partner
- Non-verbal insults and put-downs such as making a face or turning your back while your partner talks.
In most cases, it takes a long time for you to notice your hostile behavior. What would become apparent however, is how your partner responds to the hostility. Keep in mind that contempt breeds contempt which means that at some point, your partner would also be showing signs of hostility in response to your aggressiveness. Following are some of the most common reactions when confronted with a hostile environment:
- When initially confronted with hostility, you partner would start to show signs of confusion. They may become silent during outbursts since they are still trying to comprehend the situation.
- Your partner might try to reach out and talk to you about the situation. They might ask questions regarding your current attitude and why it is happening. This confrontation should be a wakeup call for you to snap out of the mode. This is also the best time to come clean with your problems and talk about resolving it with your partner.
- Failure to talk with your partner when asked might lead to reversion of hostility. Instead of trying to understand your actions, your partner would simply react in the same way. This only makes the problem worse and could lead to a break up. Once you notice that your partner is showing hostility, it’s time to reassess the relationship and find out if your actions have led to this situation.
Resolving Hostility in Relationships
Hostility is something that should be nipped in the bud, lest it completely ruins the relationship and your view of each other. Once you’ve realized your mistake, it’s time to do something to patch the problem. Keep in mind that even if your partner has been patient enough throughout your “hostile” phase, they wouldn’t be waiting forever. Hence, once you snap out of the situation, it’s time to immediately do something to make amends. Here are the steps you should follow to make this possible:
- Figure out the reason for your hostility. You can’t address the problem until you find out exactly what is triggering your negative emotions. If you feel that it’s necessary to be alone while you figure things out, then do so and inform your partner of the situation.
- Talk it out with your partner, letting them know exactly why you’ve been behaving badly for the past days. There’s a good chance that she is confused with your actions and hurt by how you have been treating the relationship. Come clean and tell them exactly what the problem is. If you are exhibiting hostility in relation to your partner, don’t be afraid to tell them this as well. Remember that the foundation of a strong relationship is honesty. Here’s an article that may provide more help on how to talk to your partner: “How to communicate positively“.
- Set up a healing session wherein both of you can freely talk about problems and try to understand your position. It’s crucial that NO criticism or blame is exchanged during this time. Instead, aim for a loving environment wherein both you and your partner are willing to listen and understand.
- Seek out a solution for the problem. The answer may vary; depending on what you believe is the reason for your feelings of hostility. For example, feelings of envy or rejection can be easily talked out with your partner and addressed quickly. If you are hostile due to frustration, try to find out exactly what primary need is being taken away from you.
- Know that you have made a mistake and apologize for it. Be aware that regardless of your reasons, you have hurt your partner and they deserve an apology for the hurt.
- Control yourself and stop with the criticisms altogether. Although it’s impossible to completely erase the hostility, you should already be aware of the situation and making an effort to stop the bad thoughts. Read article “How to control your emotions” for a more detailed explanation.
- Note that verbally apologizing is just the first step towards repairing the relationship. Your actions should also reflect your apology. Be extra affectionate with your partner to make up for your past behavior. Offer random acts of kindness so that your partner can physically feel the love in the relationship again.
- Assume your original dating ritual to bring back a semblance of normalcy in the relationship. If possible, try going over the experiences that you have enjoyed in the past. This will help bring forth memories of the happier days, basically letting the bad days fade away into oblivion.
When all else fails, it might be best for the relationship to end instead of letting the hostile atmosphere continue. If it continues, the hostility may also cause damage to a person’s self-esteem, making them incapable of coping when it comes to other relationships. Once the situation starts to cause damage to you and your partner, this is the time to move on and perhaps try to resolve the problem on your own.