All of us repress or suppress our emotions and bottle them up inside. I’m certainly guilty of it, and in order to reduce it, I am trying to face the consequences head on. Here’s my list of the ways our emotions come out when we don’t express them properly.
Here is a hypothetical situation:
You attend a small gathering with your significant other (SO) and his/her friends from work. They begin to talk about work and you’re unable to contribute to the conversation. Your significant other is flirting with an attractive coworker and paying zero attention to you. You’ve become completely obsolete and excluded from the conversation for two hours until you finally resort to posting Instagram photos of your feet. You feel hurt, betrayed, and embarrassed by your partner.
Instead of having the proper “it hurts my feelings when you don’t include me” conversation, you hold in your hurt, and it increases as time goes on.
In the meantime, your partner doesn’t recognize his/her behavior as ignoring you and actually feels that you walk away in the middle of conversation and have little interest in his/her friends.
Now, weeks or months later, how are those feelings going to manifest themselves?
1. Serious venting – everyone in your life knows about your problems with your partner… except for your partner. By this time, most of your friends and family dread hearing about how much your partner sucks and how terribly s/he treats you. Your relationship may have a lot of emotional tension, yet your significant other has no clue why.
2. Random insertion into a future fight – you’re fighting about a family visit and you randomly bring it up – i.e. “You always ignore me at parties!” The response you get is more than likely, “What the hell are you talking about?” or, “What does that have to do with anything?”
3. Eye for an eye retaliation – you act like everything is fine but completely ignore your partner at every social engagement you attend in order to make him/her feel like crap. Usually the confrontation that follows turns out to be angry and miserable.
4. Self-destructive behavior – you internalize the situation to mean ‘I’m not good enough for him/her,’ and deal with it by self-destructive behaviors like drinking away your woes or alternating between phases of elation and crying.
5. Character judgments – you chalk up the entire situation to your partner’s character: s/he simply doesn’t care about you (or anyone else) and therefore sucks and is selfish. You start to expect him/her to act selfishly, which eventually leads you to see his/her future actions as motivated by selfishness. You become more and more resentful.
6. Total emotional manipulation – this is similar to eye for an eye, except that it’s more like an eye for a soul. You try to control his/her every action in an attempt to control the relationship. Rules abound, and you continuously threaten to make your love conditional. You’re in pain and therefore you want him/her to experience the same pain and rejection you did.
7. Self-esteem nose-dive – you would describe yourself as super laid back and always “let it go” but you actually are numbing your emotions. Your subconscious thought process may be something like, “S/he is so much more social and popular than me. If I bring up my hurt feelings, s/he may realize how not cool I am and stop dating me.” You’re afraid of the rejection you might receive if you honestly express your emotions and therefore don’t assert yourself. This often leads to depression or the aforementioned self-destructive behavior.
8. Indirect innuendos – you bring up the situation indirectly in a seemingly unrelated conversation. The two of you are talking about social gatherings and you half-jokingly say something like, “ugh, when we go to your friends’ house I just end up drinking alone in a corner HAHAHAHA” or “you’re just way too popular for me at parties HAHAHAHA.”
9. Sick with worry – you literally get sick. Your repressed energy becomes physically lodged in your body, weakening your immune system and contributing to a cold, headache, or other illness.
10. Blowing up over nothing – your partner doesn’t wash a dish and you inexplicably blow up, snapping with misdirected anger. S/he does not understand the true root of the problem and calls you crazy.
11. Social media use – your Facebook status becomes something like, “love all my fantastic friends who are so inclusive in conversation” and then tag everyone but your SO. Or you might post an attention-seeking, “gah, why I am so socially awkward?!?!” or something like, “people who are non-inclusive in conversation suck, right?!” Ultimately, you’re pseudo bringing it up to your partner indirectly on a public forum.