What is an “issue”?

Issues. We’ve all got em. And when we first start dating, or other times after we’ve been with someone for years, “issues” seems to be what leads to the most conflict and confusion.

But… what are “issues” really?

and at what point should we be expected to get over them? (in other words: resolve them.)

QUESTION 1: What are issues? 

Issues are the ways we’ve learned to react to others based on some past pain or betrayal. Issues are also the cause of the most frequent irrational reactions. For instance, everybody knows about Pavlov’s dogs, and some people know the story of Little Albert. These are the 2 classic examples used in psychology to explain how we learn and respond to stimuli in our environment.

Pavlov’s dogs learned to drool every time they heard a bell because they were taught that every time a bell rings, they’re very likely to receive steak. Little Albert was a toddler who learned to fear fluffy animals, like rabbits, and it was a fear that stayed with him into adulthood.

In the case of the dogs, they eventually lost interest in the bells, although in other similar experiments, after some time passes the “learned reaction” has been known to reemerge for a short time and again disappear.

But with Little Albert, that wasn’t the case. First of all, he’s a human and memory remains longer in general for us. But also, his experience was traumatic. Research has also shown that negative events imprint themselves on our psyche far longer than positive ones. THE REASON is survival.

At the base of it all: our first instinct is physical survival. Our second is emotional comfort and stability. Traumatic events are times that threatened one or both of these, so we learn to avoid those situations. For Albert, that meant avoiding animals and even men with lots of facial hair. That was the “trigger” stimulus: lots of fluffy hair.

For dating and friendships, we also have our “trigger” stimuli and sometimes our reactions to them are warranted and other times they aren’t. Albert would scream as a child if he saw a rabbit. As an adult, he avoided them. Even though we all know the rabbit was not going to harm him, his LEARNED FEAR caused his irrational response.

It’s the same for us.

When those stimuli appear again, it DOES NOT always mean there is harm nearby. But we react as if the harm is inevitable.

THE QUESTION to ask yourself is:  at what point are you going to RESOLVE those “issues” and judge new interactions solely on what they are?

Which leads me into QUESTION 2:

at what point should we be expected to get over them? (in other words: resolve them.)

It’s really a personal choice. Should we expect others to deal with our issues? Accept us as we are. What if the person we’re dating refuses to accept or deal with them?

The point is: we all have personal choice, and when “issues” present themselves, we have to be honest,, THEY CHANGE THINGS. What ever comfort or connection existed BEFORE the issue became obvious WILL BE impacted.

It’s NEW information.

If you were ready to buy a house,a nd the seller says, “there’s these really loud neighbors next door, and they have noisy parties every Wednesday night.” If you need a peaceful night every Wednesday, this new information is going to effect your desire to be in the house. It DOES NOT CHANGE how much you love the “house.” It just affects YOUR DECISION to move in or not.

Someone once said that if we have issues from childhood, by the time we are 30 we had enough time to fix them. Perhaps, but I think some folks haven’t, and I don’t think they’re right or wrong for still having those issues.

But at the same time, if the person you’re interested in is not comfortable living and managing your reactions base don these past traumas, they have a right to feel that way and to choose that.

It doesn’t mean they feel differently about you. It’s their personal choice just as it is yours to work at resolving your past issues or not.

Do you know your issues? What caused them? Can you resolve them? Are you willing to be controlled by them for the rest of your life? These are the questions we all have to ask ourselves. 

Life is a series of interactions and some of them will be great and others won’t. Like Bob Marley said, (paraphrasing his quote)  everyone will disappoint or hurt you at some point. What you have to do is decide who is worth persisting through those times for the greater and longer love that you want in your life

(if that’s what you want.)



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