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How To Live With Someone You Hate

by Lyndon Langley
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How To Live With Someone You Hate

How To Live With Someone You Hate

I have a friend who hates his brother-in-law with the passion of an incandescent bulb, which is to say that he’s not very passionate about it at all. He doesn’t get mad or anything; in fact, he rarely gets angry and when he does it’s usually because something has happened to him personally rather than what his brother-in-law might be doing.  Instead, my friend takes out his frustrations on his dog, his cat, and occasionally his wife (though not often).
He’s never met this guy, but since they’re sharing a roof he can’t help but feel some sense of ownership over him. He may even try to playfully scold the man whenever possible. “You’re so lazy!” he’ll exclaim as if the brother-in-law were a child. Or maybe he’ll call him names like ‘lazy bum’ or ‘fatass.’ Sometimes he’ll just yell at the top of his lungs from across the street. And sometimes he won’t do any of those things, but instead will take out his frustration on himself by saying aloud how much he hates his own brother-in-law.
When I asked him how he could live with someone he hated, he said, “Well, I don’t know…I guess you just have to hate them enough.” But that seems kind of silly to me. If your husband or partner really annoyed you, wouldn’t you want to find a way to change? Wouldn’t you want to fix things? In most cases, you would. So why should we just accept hatred and anger as normal behavior?
I think there are many reasons why people tolerate their partners or spouses they dislike, but here are five common ones:
1) We’re afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled crazy or judgmental.
2) We’re afraid to lose our partner/spouse.
3) We’re afraid to hurt our partner/spouse’s feelings.
4) We’re afraid to make waves.
5) We’re afraid to rock the boat.
And while these are all legitimate concerns, I think that the best thing to do when you hate someone is to address them head-on. The next time your brother-in-law cuts you off in traffic, scream bloody murder at him. No one’s going to accuse you of living in La La Land. Also, no one’s going to ask you how you can stand to live with someone you hate. And let’s face it – no matter how much you love someone else, there’s always going to be times when you wish they weren’t around. Well, now you’ve got a chance to tell them exactly what you think.
But before you go ahead and start screaming, consider this: What if your spouse or partner actually enjoys having this person in their lives? What if they see the good qualities in him? They may even appreciate the attention. After all, people generally tend to focus on what they have in common with others, not necessarily on what they dislike.
So how do you deal with hating someone? Here are some tips:
Live Together, Die Alone. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they hate someone is trying to keep their distance. It’s understandable that we’d want to avoid conflict, especially if the other person makes us uncomfortable. However, the reality is that we probably won’t ever be able to completely get away from someone we hate. Even if you move across the country, you’re still likely to end up seeing them every once in awhile. And even though you may not talk about what they’re doing right now, there’s nothing wrong with keeping tabs on them.
If your brother-in-law is constantly late, it’s only fair to wonder where he is. If your neighbor is always driving recklessly, you shouldn’t ignore the problem. That’s why it’s important to have healthy ways to communicate. For example, if you have a tendency to use sarcasm, try using humor instead. This will show respect toward your partner without alienating them.
Focus On Healthy Ways To Communicate. Instead of complaining about your partner behind their back, have a conversation about it. Don’t gossip. Talk openly and honestly about what bothers you. Remember, you don’t need to agree with each other. Just learn to listen respectfully and give an open mind.
Practice Civility. Try to remember that everyone has flaws, including your partner. Even if you don’t particularly care for her shoes, it’s rude to point it out. Do yourself and your partner a favor and practice civility.
Sidestep When Possible. Don’t confront your partner directly. If you’re in front of your partner, stop and walk away. Leave the situation until later. Maybe you could meet somewhere else for lunch tomorrow. Once again, try to sidestep the issue.
Fake It Till You Make It. Whenever you can, act as if you don’t notice the annoying habit or behavior. Pretend it isn’t happening. Think positive thoughts! Tell yourself that everything is fine, that life is great. Then, when you wake up the next morning or come home after work, check in with yourself. Is it true? Are you feeling resentment or negative emotions? If so, then you know you didn’t fake it long enough.
Be Mindful Of Your Emotions. Understand what triggers your emotional responses. There’s nothing wrong with expressing your feelings, but it helps if you understand why you react the way you do. If your partner drives you nuts, perhaps you need to slow down and breathe. If you’re easily angered, you may need to seek professional help.
Put A Positive Spin On It. Remind yourself that your partner is not perfect. Everyone messes up. Keep reminding yourself that your partner is human.
Find Common Ground. Perhaps you and your partner share similar interests or values. Use this to your advantage. Take turns planning dates together. Volunteer together. Join organizations together. Set aside differences and focus on what brings you closer.
It goes without saying that you should never harm another person physically or mentally. Also, please don’t resort to violence. These types of behaviors are unacceptable and will only lead you further into darkness.
Sometimes, all it takes is learning how to handle conflict better. By taking control of your reactions and actions, you’ll be able to improve your relationships. And you’ll also be able to build stronger bonds with those closest to you.
What advice would you give to someone who tries to live with someone they hate? Share your insights below.
Image adapted from psdGraphics.

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