Are you or your partner argumentative?
Have you had this kind of disagreement with your partner?
One of you says to the other, “I don’t like it when you X.” Or, “I don’t want you to X.”
“I don’t want you to flirt with other people.”
“I don’t like it when you say you’ll call me and then you don’t.”
“I don’t like it when you pretend to listen to me, but you’re not really listening.”
“I get upset when you tell me you’ll do something and then you don’t do it.”
Then, the other one—the argumentative one—says, “Well, it wouldn’t bother me if you did X (flirt), (not call when you say you will), (not listen), (not do what you say you’ll do).”
The problem with this response—”It wouldn’t bother me if you did X”—is that you’re not listening. You are simply justifying your behavior in the most convoluted of ways. You are being argumentative. You are making this about you—but it wasn’t about you—it’s about your partner. Your partner is telling you what bothers him or her.
The solution is to take the time to understand what it’s like for your partner, and not ask your partner to understand what it would be like in reverse. People are different. Two people will respond very differently to the same event, so what’s the point of saying, “X doesn’t bother me so it shouldn’t bother you.”
I strongly encourage you to stop with all the, “Well, how would you like it if I did what you’re doing,” types of arguments. Another form these arguments take is when one partner makes a request of the other, and what comes back—from the argumentative one—is, “How would you feel if I asked you to Y?”
“I want you to start taking better care of yourself.”
“I want you to promise me you’ll drive more carefully.”
“I want you to let me know if you find yourself attracted to someone else.”
If you respond to a request from your partner by saying, “How would you feel if I asked you to Y,” you are not listening. You are being argumentative. You are simply misdirecting the conversation instead of constructively engaging with your partner.
The solution—just step up and let your partner know you understand what they are saying. You may or may not agree, that’s a separate matter, but let them know you hear them and understand them. From there, you can proceed to have an adult/adult conversation, which is likely to bring about a constructive solution.