When you place two human beings together in an interpersonal connection, especially a close one, anger can be counted on.
Suffice it to say that by anger being a given, I do not mean a volatile relationship. One laden with ups and downs or seeping with bitterness. A relationship in which fights erupt often, and anger is an enthusiastic and frequent presence. This is not to what I am referring with my article title.
Instead, what I am acknowledging is that when two people come together in any sort of relationship, (assuming it’s a truly honest one), there will be moments in which someone makes a mistake. When one lets the other down, hurts their feelings, inadvertently offends, or drops the ball. All of which, is to be human and thus, a given of any interpersonal connection. And, much of this likely to result in someone feeling hurt or angry.
Why is it important to both know and be ready for this? Because then on its occurrence, it will not be a surprise, as well as within it being expected, can potentially be less distressing.
Anger will come along with these human errs which happen in all relationships. And yes, within even great relationships.
There will be times that someone you love and with whom you are close, will do something of which you do not approve. They may say something, make a choice, or express a feeling or thought which you find angering, upsetting, disappointing, etc.
When we expect that this emotion is both an assumption and definitive of both being human, as well as relationships, we can be less afraid of or anxious when it does come up.
Constructive anger is not something to be feared. Instead, anger is a crucial emotion. One that points us toward trouble spots which need assistance, focus, or repair. That which alerts us to when we may have been wronged, or that something is amiss. Anger can be a pathway toward change, the necessary opening of a door on honesty, as well as a means of productive and clarifying discussion.
Anger is not necessarily incidence that someone is “bad” or a person did something “wrong.” Though at times it may indicate the latter, often instead, it indicates a sense of someone feeling unheard. Possibly dismissed or disrespected (whether intentional or not). The anger, a result of their boundaries not being given the allowance they should be.
Anger can be a way of people opening the lid on and airing some much needed discussion of things which may have been simmering under the surface. It can be a method of clearing the air, making way for the productive and new to surface.
We will both piss off, and be pissed off by those we love.
In the words of Bob Marley though, since anger and hurt is a relational given, it’s a matter of choosing those who are worth it. So what does that mean, exactly? Figuring out who’s “worth it”?
It means that since, at times, all the people you love will upset you, it’s about choosing those who are otherwise and overall, great people.
It’s picking purposefully the friends, romantic partner, colleagues with whom you meet outside work, and even family members with whom you choose closeness, who are good people with sound and generally healthy character. The ones who, as an overarching theme, are kind, trustworthy, and loyal, with a general sense of emotional health and good boundaries. Those who treat you well, even as they make some mistakes and slip up from time to time, which all of us absolutely will.
Anger is a given in all truly honest, close interpersonal relationships. Thus, there is no reason to fear it. Instead, know it’s going to come up, and that when it does, this emotion can often help pave the way for repair, as well as personal and relational growth.
Anger is not the issue, it’s how we process it that determines this. Upset and misunderstandings do not automatically indicate a problem with a relationship. It’s important to look at the specifics of the mistake or misunderstanding in order to determine this.
And to remember that anger is going to happen between you and those you love. That as long as it’s handled well, and that people take personal responsibility and grow from their mistakes, anger and misstep can be a valuable piece of all relationships.