I think we all know what it’s like to be in a blood boiling fight. We call it blood boiling because physiologically we are aroused – our sympathetic nervous system is activated, we may be in “fight or flight” mode, our pulse is racing, breathing may be difficult, and we could be sweating bullets and hot as hell. If you and your partner go here and stay here in this blood boiling zone, you are stuck in the danger zone. No good will come of this, so get out!! Take a break from each other and cool off. When we are physiologically activated like this, our brain is foggy and we can’t be rational. Before you’re going to see any resolution, you have got to calm down, so get out of there. Create a sign that you and your partner share, whether it’s a stop sign, a time out, or whatever, that signals to the other that you are activated and need to cool off. I know this can be frustrating if you just want to hash it out, but if your blood is literally on fire, chances are it’s not going to work. Hash it out when you’re both breathing a bit easier.
8.) Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA)
This is a phenomenon that is bad for our health, whether we are in a relationship or not. Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA) is when we have a higher baseline of physiological activation than is ideal. It is adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint in that an increased level of vigilance translates to better preparedness for surrounding danger, but in this day and age, most of us do not live in an environment in which we need to be on our toes to stave off danger (I recognize that some of us do, unfortunately).
People with DPA, in addition to other chronic physiological states, have higher heart rates, more constricted arteries, more blood volume with less concentrations of oxygen in the blood, increased stress hormones like cortisol (which has been associated with all kinds of health problems), increased activation of the amygdala in the brain (the amygdala is the emotional arousal center and is highly involved in signaling danger), and less activation of the part of the brain that is responsible for judgment and planning (the frontal lobe).
In relationships, DPA can have a serious negative impact. For example, with decreased ability to plan and judge, those with DPA have a harder time taking in information and have less flexible views of things. Flexibility is really important in relationships. It’s also harder for someone with DPA to be humorous and affectionate when things are difficult. Similarly, someone with DPA may be more likely to continually state their position on something and think that their partner will suddenly understand them after hearing them repeat themselves ten times. You can see how this is a problem.
If you or your partner have DPA, it’s really not your fault. Remember, this physiological arousal is something that has helped us survive as a species over the years. Stress management can be helpful – think about exercise, mindfulness meditation, yoga, or whatever works for you.
9.) In heterosexual relationships, when men can’t accept influence from their female partners
Gottman and his colleagues discovered 2 classic problematic patterns when men reject influence from their female partners:
When men emotionally disengage (eventually their partners do too)
When men escalate with negativity in response to their female partner’s feedback, even if it’s just her mild complaining
Heterosexual men who are in more harmonious relationships are open to influence and feedback from their ladies – big surprise, right?
Quick story to illustrate this point: I was at a comedy show one time when they played some “how well do you know your partner” kind of game. There were the newlyweds, the 5-10 year married couple and the veteran couple with 35 years strong. They asked the veteran couple the advice they had to the younger couples and the big guy said, without even thinking, “Keep Mama happy.” Well, there you have it!
So, keep an eye out for these 9 danger signs. Please remember, all of these warning signs appear in relationships from time to time and when you notice them, it doesn’t mean that you are destined for failure. However, if you notice that your relationship is overwhelmingly suffering from any of the above warning signs, sit down with your partner and have a serious chat about your plan to get them under control.
Cheers to your best relationship,