Every day I thank the universe that my wife can't read my thoughts. Because thoughts aren't always indicative of how you really feel. In fact, there are tons of negative relationship thoughts that don't make you a bad partner. They're often just internal over-reactions to whatever's going on in that moment.
When couples came to see me during my time as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, they were often plagued with guilt over some serious negative thinking. Sometimes their thoughts were super scary, like "I wish my partner would die." Most of the time, though, they were just a stream of things like, "If they don't stop talking, I will put a pillow over their face."
Are they nice thoughts? Not at all. Do they mean you're a bad person, a future violent offender, or in a bad relationship? Not necessarily. It's actually pretty common to harbor some pretty dark thoughts from time to time. It's part therapeutic, part par for the course when spending a lot of time with someone, and part message from your body that you maybe need a time-out.
Instead of focusing on why these thoughts make you a bad person (they don't) it's better to focus on what they're telling you. Sometimes they're just telling you that you're annoyed, but sometimes they could be telling you that you need to address whatever's got murder on your mind.
1. I Hate You
"I hate you" is usually more of a knee-jerk reaction to your partner doing something annoying than a true representation of your feelings. In fact, feeling like you hate your partner is actually really common, even in happy, healthy relationships. It's also common to feel a weird, conflicted combination of, "I hate you and love you at the same time." Love isn't always a happy, warm feeling. Sometime's it's a choice. And it's absolutely possible to occasionally hate your partner, but still chose to love them.
2. Please Go Far Away...
Proximity is a huge challenge. Even if you've lived together for ages, and you're a pro at it, having someone all up in your personal space on the regular can be an exercise in staying out of jail, especially for introverts and people with sensory issues. In fact, sometimes 47 galaxies of space doesn't seem like enough. But usually you'll find that it doesn't take long or you to miss your partner once they give you little breathing room. It's totally OK to ask for a little alone time or personal space, and it doesn't make you mean or bad at your relationship.
3. ... And Don't Come Back
When you think about bad things happening to your partner (like really terrible things, like dying in a fire) it typically means one of two things. The first is that you're just annoyed and your brain has a flair for the dramatic. The second is that your relationship is not working for you, and you aren't ready to end things yet. Either way, it doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't even mean you want bad things to happen to that person. In fact, no matter how dark their thoughts, most people would go to great lengths to keep their partners out of harm's way.
4. You Are The Worst Person
Like, literally the worst. Like, I could scan the entire planet and not find a person who is worse than you. Again, it usually just your brain being a drama king/queen. Brains are weird. Like, when we think about our brains, it's really our brains thinking about themselves. Creepy. But they like to escalate things pretty quickly, from "you're annoying" to "you're the worst person in the galaxy." It's just your internal way of blowing off steam. If you think this every day, though, it might be worth exploring the root cause. Maybe you need some better communication skills, or some fun.
5. Why Does God Hate Me?
I think this all the time, and I'm a soft atheist. It's common to feel like your partner is a punishment from a higher power for the mistakes you made in a former life. Especially if you're in a rough patch or if the bad stuff of life seems to keep raining down on you. With a little thought rewiring, you can program yourself to think of your partner as a gift instead of a curse during bad times. Or you can just keep asking yourself why God hates you, because deep down you know you don't mean it. Especially when it's over something silly like your partner tripping and spilling your new Starbucks all over your new shoes.
6. I Wish I Could Run Away
Who doesn't? When things get tough, a little delicious escapism is the best. Even if it's just in your head. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to escape a problem solving communication session and lay alone on a beach with a book, I'd be a bajillionaire. It's also natural to wonder about what your life would be like if you were single or if you were with someone else. You're human. If you think these things all the time, like multiple times a day, that's when you need to start wondering.
7. You Are A Giant Child
"You are a giant child" is usually interchangeable with a lot of phrases, like "how hard it is to clean up your spilled coffee" or "how many times do I have to show you how to back up your photos, it's not that difficult." Deep breaths help. Patience is like a muscle you need to exercise. Or so they say. I haven't mastered it yet. Just keep in mind that thinking your partner is a child, or is inept, or is helpless is just a response to feeling annoyed, burdened, or overwhelmed. It will pass. Even if they never learn how to use their own tablets.
8. There's Not Enough Birth Control In The Word
When you're annoyed with your partner, does it terrify you that some day (or maybe currently!) you could have a child that is exactly like them, and then there would be two? I know it's not just me. Having a child with someone is a huge, terrifying step. And it sounds like a nightmare when you're not exactly jumping for joy about your partner's existence. I feel you. You're among friends.
9. Do You Even Know Me At All?
Do you even know me at all? Because if you did, it would be clear to you that I do not like sugar in my tea. I mean, have the last several years been all for naught? Do you even love me? Do you remember my birthday? I've been there. Having a partner is a lot of work. It's a lot to remember. You gotta cut your partner some slack sometimes. Especially when you drink tea like three times per year, so how you take your tea isn't a life priority for them.
10. Your Family Makes Me Want To Put Spoons In My Eyeballs
Even though I have great in-laws now, I come from a long line of relationships that included really crappy families. Abusers. Meanies. All that stuff. So it's OK to think and feel whatever way you want to about that. It doesn't make you a bad partner and it doesn't make you a bad person. Just remember to try to communicate more constructively when you're saying things out loud. But inside your head, it's fair game.
11. If You Do That One More Time, I Swear To God I Will...
Outbursts. They happen. But consider it a blessing that they're happening inside of your brain instead of spewing straight out of your mouth. Use them as opportunities to dust off your "I" statements, and say things like "I feel disrespected when you cut me off while I'm talking..." It's a much better use of your energy than feeling guilty about being a terrible person (which, you're not).
Keep negative thoughts in perspective, and realize they're usually just that — thoughts.
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