Relationships are hard enough to navigate when the partners involved are open and communicative with each other. But add a chameleon into the mix – you know the type, friendly and warm one second, cold and cutting (or at best distant) the next – and the waters can become impossible to steer!
After all, how are you supposed to determine if you’re compatible if you’re too busy trying to guess which side of your partner is going to show up to dinner? The good news is, you can take inventory of even the most complex personality and determine which of their many faces is the real one. Here’s a hint: odds are, it’s all of them! The trick is deciding what (and who) you’re willing to put up with!
Uncovering the truth behind any situation requires honing your powers of observation. The same goes for understanding a seemingly duplicitous partner. If you want to understand why they’re behaving in a way that confuses you, you have to pay attention to the circumstances surrounding that behavior and learn to trust your instincts. Odds are there’s going to be a pattern that will inform you about the root of the problem.
So, for a simple example, if your partner is sweet and loving when you’re alone, but as soon as you go out in public, they won’t hold your hand or show you any affection and it bothers you… well, it’s an easy distinction, right? The mitigating factor is that you’re out with other people when the negative pattern rears its head. Now comes the telling part. It would be easy to jump to the fact that they really don’t care about you or conversely, to convince yourself that they’re just shy about public displays. To know which it is (and of course there are many other options too), you need to look a little deeper at the specifics, taking note of what resonates.
Is the distant behavior more prevalent when you’re with specific people? Do you get the idea that they’re ashamed of you or are they simply the type of personality to embarrass easily or succumb to peer pressure around friends who haven’t settled down (or those who may not approve of their choice of partner)? Answers to these questions will decide how you choose to deal with the situation. But if the sincerity of a partner’s feelings about you are in question (which is the very core of duplicity – the inability to trust what they’re telling you), you’ve absolutely got to do something. Otherwise, the only thing you’ll be guaranteed is the ultimate failure of your relationship – whether you break up or not!
Of course, most situations involving questionable feelings are more complex than the previous example. For instance, if your lover is generally level-headed and rational, but occasionally they fly off the handle or retreat into “no talk” mode, you may find yourself frustrated and unsure about what you’ve done. Most likely, you haven’t done anything (except possibly trigger something that’s an issue for them), but until you step back and look at the situation objectively, it can feel like you’re dealing with someone you don’t know at all! That said, if you observe for a little while, odds are you will notice common denominators like money, family or work involved in what sets your partner into “evil twin” mode.
Given that information, the last thing you want to do is confront them armed with their Achilles Heel. Since these issues are clearly difficult for them to deal with, your best approach is to talk to them about yourself. Begin by finding a time when your mate seems approachable and tell them that you’ve noticed a change in them when x, y or z comes up or happens. If they ask for examples, be willing to share them, kindly and without judgment. Then, open up to them about how it makes you feel when they react to you in that way. “When you clam up about money, I feel like you don’t trust or respect me.” “When you yell at me about what I said in front of your parents, I feel like you’re embarrassed by me and wish I were someone else.” No one can argue with feelings.
That said, not everyone is willing to change, and sometimes, if you’re under the impression that something is off, it very well may be… whether they admit it to you or not.
Some people just take time to trust and soft spots are the hardest to be open about, but there is nothing saying you have to wait around forever for someone to tell you what’s really going on in their heads or hearts. Besides, once you’ve addressed the behavior that’s throwing you for a loop, they’ll either become aware of their behavior and work on it, or they’ll continue on as usual, vacillating between attitudes. And therein lies your answer about whether or not to stick around. Unintentional duplicity is a very different (and less diabolical) beast than purposeful deceit or non-disclosure.
Remember, even those who do make the effort to change will occasionally slip up. After all, the things you don’t like about them may be amendable, but most of them won’t be completely eradicated. Nobody’s perfect. But if your lover is aware that a behavior of theirs is hurtful and confusing and they continue on without thought for your feelings or any meaningful attempt to address the issue, they’re not the only one being unfair to you. You’re being unfair to yourself!
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