written by: Kosjenka Muk
Why constructive communication sometimes doesn’t work?
While this type of pattern by itself is not related to gender, traditional upbringing gives much more freedom to boys, often allowing them (and sometimes even encouraging them) to not show significant responsibility or consideration for others. On top of that, children often idealize the parent who has more freedom and spends more time away from the family (usually the father in traditional societies), while taking for granted or even resenting the parent who spends time with them, makes demands, gives criticisms and imposes limitations, therefore usually the mother (just as it’s otherwise a part of human nature to appreciate what is scarce and unavailable, while taking for granted what we already have).
If the mother is, on top of that, insufficiently firm and consistent in imposing discipline, which is not uncommon, the child in time learns to ignore her requests and warnings until the mother becomes seriously angry and willing to make her threats a reality. As the relationship with the parent of the opposite sex is often reflected in the relationship with a love partner, such a child grows into a person who in time falls into the habit of ignoring and not taking seriously their partner’s requests, needs and pleas, just as they were used to do with the mother … until the partner becomes seriously angry.
This pattern can easily be unconscious and unintentional, so it can show up not only among people prone to selfishness and aggression, but also among people whose personality is warmer and well-meaning. Such people can ignore mild and friendly complaints and requests not on purpose, but simply because the habit is so deeply ingrained.
This can be very confusing for their partner, who can end up resorting more and more to nonconstructive criticism and blame, such as they probably heard from their own parents. This can trigger childhood memories and childish emotions (age regression) in the unconsciously neglectful person, who might react with defensive strategies: anger and blaming in return. (Their children can easily soak up such behavior through the process of learning through imitation.) It’s not surprising that so many promising relationships end up in mutual disappointment and blame.
Hatred for the opposite gender
Just as people form their images of a supreme deity based on their experience of their parents in early childhood (which is easily recognizable in various religions), our expectations of other people are also based on our experiences with our parents. Most often, our expectations of women are based on our experiences with our mothers, while our expectations of men are based on our experiences with our fathers. However, negative prejudice towards the opposite gender is usually more pronounced, considering that most people are less likely to generalize against groups they are a part of.
Prejudice and generalizations which we learn in early childhood are sometimes particularly difficult to give up on, or even recognize them as exaggerated, as early childhood is a stage of life in which we create the basic imprints about the world and strategies how to survive in such a world. If a belief is unconsciously perceived as helpful to survival, trying to question and change it can cause existential fear (often also unconscious).
(Another type of fear that comes out when changing emotional habits from childhood, is fear os somehow “betraying” one’s own family or losing one’s place within the family. This is, for example, one of the reasons why people hold on to their religious beliefs in spite of all evidence. Resolving such fears is also a part of our method.)
All in all, if bad experiences with a parent create a negative perception of one’s partner’s gender, this will inevitably influence one’s romantic relationships. Then it’s very easy to perceive everything a partner (or anybody of their gender) does in the worst possible light and presume the worst intentions. Web-communities in which such opinions and “proofs” for them are exchanged keep growing and gaining influence. As a result, usually the people who least deserve or expect it – including children – suffer the most consequences.
It’s almost impossible to not have some prejudice, as our brains are instinctively prone to oversimplifying the world around us, but many people manage to keep their prejudice under control and don’t let them influence their behavior. (I want to mention here that some people come to me because they are worried they are bad people because of occasional mean and violent thoughts. Such thoughts alone don’t make you a bad person; they are a normal part of human experience. What matters is what you decide to do about them – and this can also be changed.) However, people who often feel a need to express their hatred for the opposite gender, are usually those whose hidden feeling of inadequacy is so intense that they feel they can only find some personal worth and power in belonging to their own gender – i.e. something that is not the result of their own efforts and abilities. People who carry such a feeling of inadequacy can easily be tempted to compensate for it by abusing others, and the partner is usually the easiest victim. This is not likely to be changed by and kind of logical reasoning or persuasion, if such a person doesn’t have internal motivation to change.