Consider that people have basic personality styles and then a range of different behaviours that stem from those basic styles.
Sometimes the personality styles we love most about our partners are a double edged sword – they lead to a mixture of desirable and undesirable consequences.
Often what perpetually irritates us about partners is behaviour that stems from an aspect of their basic personality that we actually like a lot.
Imagine a fictional couple. Peter and Simone.
Simone is very consciousness and prides herself on being thoughtful, considerate, polite, and reliable.
Something that attracted Simone to Peter is that he’s a free spirit. He’s spontaneous, outgoing, enthusiastic and relaxed. He lives in the moment.
What really irritates Simone about Peter is that he makes lots of plans for them to see friends together and doesn’t leave much time for them to do things alone as a couple.
Simone has asked Peter not to commit her to plans without discussing it with her. However his behaviour never changes. When they argue about it, Simone has thoughts that Peter doesn’t understand her, doesn’t care enough about how she feels, and doesn’t value them spending time together as much as she does. She doesn’t want him to see her as nagging, controlling or trying to ruin his fun and worries this might be the case. However, she also sees her wants as valid.
In Couples Therapy, often it helps people feel less irritated if they reframe some types of unwanted behaviour as unwanted consequences of wanted basic traits. The unwanted behaviour and wanted traits are two sides of the same coin, and although it would be nice to pick and choose, sometimes reality is messier. They learn to work around some types of unwanted behaviour rather than fighting against it.
Lets look at some other examples:
1. Someone who is very ambitious > Someone who is in a constant state of change and finds it hard to relax
2. Someone who is conscientious > Someone who is nit picky, fussy, and at times critical
3. Someone who is extroverted and likes to please others > Someone who shows off at parties (e.g. acts the jokester) and is sometimes embarrassing
4. Someone who is easy going and doesn’t feel life is a pressure > Someone who’s not super ambitious or hard driving
5. Someone who is very stable > Someone who is set in their ways and doesn’t want to change
6. Someone who keeps a very even keel emotionally > Someone who is not prone to big romantic gestures and doesn’t get overexcited, seems to lack passion
7. Someone who is spontaneous and open to experiences > Someone who doesn’t like to make plans or commit
8. Someone who is optimistic > Someone who spends too much money and doesn’t save for the future
9. Someone who is smart, competent, goal-focused and efficient > Someone who can be rude
10. Someone who is very agreeable, kind and generous> Someone who is over focused on avoiding conflict or pleasing other people