When you love someone, you don’t get mad at them for getting mad at you. You don’t get frustrated with them because they had an uncomfortable reaction to something you said. You don’t act like they are being ridiculous when they shut down and get quiet because you feel like you didn’t even do anything.
You might think your person is upset over something small and meaningless, you might feel like they jumped down your throat without a reason, but before you turn the situation around and make them feel shitty for having emotions, maybe you should ask them if they did have a reason. Maybe you should look at the situation from their point of view because even if you have been dating them for years, there are little things you might not realize about the way their brain works. They might not even fully understand how their brain works.
Trauma reveals itself in weird ways, so when you love someone, you have to be sensitive to their triggers. You have to understand there are moments that are going to make them feel uneasy. There are little things that are going to set them off and you cannot fault them for those unexpected reactions. You cannot accuse them of overreacting. You cannot tell them to calm down because it’s not that big of a deal.
The tiniest things can cause debilitating memories to rise to the surface. The sight of blood. The scent of a certain perfume. The sound of a beer tab opening. Fireworks. Gunshots. Raised voices. It’s not just the obvious things. It can be anything.
Love is a learning experience. Even if you think you have all the answers to ease their pain, you have to learn and grow alongside them because no two people are the same. Your girlfriend with anxiety is not going to act the same as your sister with anxiety. Your boyfriend with depression is not going to act the same as your best friend with depression.
When you love someone, you cannot read their mind, you cannot perfectly predict their reaction to every comment, every event, every noise. The best you can do is be there to soothe them in the aftermath and apologize when you accidentally cause them harm even if you had absolutely no idea you were doing it at the time.
Instead of making them feel silly, validate their feelings. Let them know it’s okay to tell you the truth because if you become defensive and accusatory, then they will wall themselves off as a coping mechanism. They will hide their truth from you. They will pretend they are fine around you the same way they do around everyone else because they do not want to feel like anymore of a freak or an outcast than they already do.
When you love someone, you learn what makes them uncomfortable and you do not do it again. You do not tease them about their worst fears. You do not intentionally hurt them as a joke or to spite them. You go out of your way to treat them right because they have always done the same for you.