How To Keep Yourself From Losing It When Your Partner Is Incredibly Frustrating

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sad-looking woman with man behind her

If something isn’t so great or it’s simply mediocre, most people want to improve it, especially when it comes to relationships. In fact, most people typically ensure that their romantic relationships last and get better over time.

But, here's a not-so-secret tip: without realistically managing expectations in a relationship, you might find yourself feeling more and more annoyed and less and less in love.

While there are many things you can do together to give your love a boost, there are also several things you can do on your own.

RELATED: 3 Extremely Toxic Expectations That Are Killing Your Relationship

Start managing expectations in a relationship by changing your thoughts.

The way you think about your relationship and partner can have a big impact on how you experience your relationship. And so it’s important to think about — and possibly change — your thought patterns about your partner and partnership.

For instance, when you hit a low in the relationship, it’s not uncommon for you to harbor critical thoughts about your partner.

You may think your partner’s selfish or doesn’t care about you.

You may feel your partner is boring or doesn't do enough around the house.

And while these things can be completely true, sometimes your thought patterns about said behaviors are a bigger reason that your relationship is suffering — and this is where managing expectations becomes critical.

The more you’re able to change how you think about your relationship — from something negative to something positive — the greater the chances are that you and your partner will enjoy each other, and your relationship will get stronger.

All relationships have problems.

Yes, even that loved-up couple who keep posting about each other on Facebook have them. And if you're experiencing deep difficulties, the solution isn't necessarily always changing the way you think about the problem.

The following exercise has been proven useful to stop you from getting annoyed with your partner, so give it a go!

When your partner does something wrong — like forgetting to take the garbage out on their way to work (as was promised) — your brain automatically tries to understand why your partner didn’t do what they said they would do.

According to relationship researcher Eli J. Finkel, you can divide the brain’s understanding of this into these two categories:

1. Temporary/Stable

The Temporary/Stable category is about how you perceive your partner’s behavior from a time perspective.

If you think about your partner's behavior from a temporary perspective, you understand your partner failing to take the rubbish out to be a coincidence.

If you think in terms of your partner's behavior as ”stable,” you see it as a ”classic” move for your partner. It’s typical for your partner not to take the rubbish out.

2. Inherent qualities/External qualities

The Inherent qualities/external qualities category is about what you ascribe to the behavior.

If you think your partner failed to take the garbage out because they easily get tunnel vision in the morning when so much has to be done, then the behavior is part of an inherent quality in them.

But if you think your partner left the garbage behind because the fire alarm went off and they had to get out quickly, well, then it’s about an external factor your partner couldn’t control.

Do you see how the same behavior, thought about in different ways, can either increase annoyance or reduce it? It points out how powerful changing your thoughts truly can be.

RELATED: 10 Unfair Relationship Expectations That Are Damaging Your Marriage

How do these categories work together?

The factors above may coincide in various ways.

For instance, you explain their behavior in the following way:

Temporary and internal qualities: "My partner left the garbage behind because they're ill, at the moment."

Stable and internal qualities: "My partner never pays attention to what I want when it comes to housework."

The above examples really showcase how our thoughts about a particular situation affect our mood. And how managing expectations in relationships isn't about lowering them, but rather, viewing our partner differently.

The point isn't that your partner doesn't have annoying traits, because, let's be honest, everyone does. However, using this exercise can be helpful if you find yourself being constantly annoyed by everything your partner does.

One thing to consider when using this exercise is that you will likely never know for sure why your partner behaves the way they do in every scenario, even if you ask them. 

And, perhaps, always understanding isn’t even desirable —at least, if you want to retain the relationship you have with them.

For this reason, and for both of you to feel good in your relationship, it can be useful to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Rather than thinking that your partner didn’t forget about the garbage, and instead simply didn’t bother to take it out because they're selfish (an analysis built on the combination of stable and inherent qualities), you may think that your partner had a lot to do this morning.

Your partner simply didn’t have the time (an analysis built on temporary, external qualities).

When you think in this way, you increase happiness and durability in the relationship.

Now, take a minute and think about something your partner did today or last week, that irritated or upset you.

How does your partner’s behavior make you feel when you look at the different categories: temporary/stable, and internal/external qualities?

Are you open to working on your thoughts by using these categories and seeing what happens during the course of a day or a week?

If not, how come?

If yes, how can you best remind yourself to use this exercise throughout your day or week?

Creating long-lasting love.

When it comes to creating a relationship that lasts over time, the goal isn't to try and eliminate all annoyances. You're only human and most relationships can withstand conflict.

However, if you want to make your relationship even better and feel less annoyed with your partner, managing expectations can be really helpful.

Next time you notice you’re getting a bit heated because your partner left the garbage behind, despite promising not to, pause and try to think differently.

By changing your view of your partner you might just notice you start to feel more of those butterflies again and less annoyance.

RELATED: 5 Behaviors That'll Kill Your Relationship (Unless You Stop Now)

Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Women's Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Glamour, and more. She's the author of the free resource: The Guide for Intimacy.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.