Universal Relationship Anomaly


“The chronic, repetitious, unproductive communications we experience with specific, significant people, which remains uncomfortable & unresolved during and after a conversation.”

The Relationship Anomaly’s genesis goes back to the feelings of separation, loss and helplessness experienced as children.

Later in life our genetics and learned 
(hardwired) communication skills work just fine to get most of what we want from others. The results exist within a tolerable range for our relationships.

Then there are those circumstances in which our judging or evaluating of others becomes unproductive. Not only unproductive, but the results of this behavior leave residue that must eventually be resolved.

So the Universal Relationship Anomaly is the behavior we and others use that sometimes works and often times puts the relationship on shakey ground. The question can be asked: 

  • Why are we treated poorly by those we love?
  • Why do we treat some family members horribly and praise others?
  • Why do children universally bully other children?
  • Why does racism, sexism and ill feelings toward diversity exist?
  • Why do we treat family worse than complete strangers.

Triggering The Anomaly – Creating Residue

The relationship anomaly is triggered by our reaction to other people’s behavior.  Behavior that, from our point of view, deviates from what we think is “normal” or appropriate.  Our reaction to other’s “out of normal” behavior causes us to categorize that person as that behavior.  This categorized behavior comes up on a fixed, mental list every time we see or hear that person, making future interactions predictable.  Fixating on a behavior includes some avoidance of that person and leaving behind unspoken reactive residue.  Residue drains our emotional energy and makes future conversations awkward.

What makes reactive behavior troublesome is its sticky residue. First, the reactive conversation or the negative experience with the other person, remains glued to us. We carry this residue around in our bodies and psyches, building up stress over time. Second, the built up residue often finds relief on an innocent victim. That victim receives our pent up frustration, rather than the original person who created the stress in us. Anytime, in a conversation in which the following behaviors are present, we are caught up in the anomaly: 

Examples of repetitious - unproductive behavior:

  • Chronic arguments over spending, sex, chores or beliefs.
  • Ongoing power struggles between a manager & report.
  • Needing to be right, rather than cooperative & productive.
  • Obsessively, exclusively focused on personal preferences, rather than how to make a success out of a marriage, partnership, family, community, company or humanity in general.
  • Fixation on another person’s or group’s behavior such as.  
  • Always being late, spending time away from the family, not being timely with handing in reports, arguing over child rearing, complaining about in-laws, or general negativity. 
  • Repeatedly shaming another to get your way, negative comments about the way someone speaks, dresses, or wears their hair, being overweight, out of shape, a smoker, a drinker, a drug user, or any other behavior that starts a reactive, unresolved conversation.

Understanding the Anomaly in Daily Life

Grasping the relationship anomaly concept and trying to identity it in every day conversation is problematic and slippery. Most would agree it is part of the dynamics or the price of being in relationship. The anomalies, “the chronic, negative, unresolved and uncomfortable conversation we repeatedly experience,” seem so normal that we often completely miss its destructive wake on personal, family or business relationships. 

We have all said at one time or another, “Relationships are the way they are! Most are good, some troublesome, some not worth the effort and others are poison." However, this testimonial avoids the core question that the anomaly makes obvious – 

  • Why are we unable to adjust in real time our negative, habitual reactions when disagreeing with significant people in our life?
  • Why, in difficult moments, are we unable to come up with a constructive dialogue in which everyone feels heard?

Because we feel justified in our position? We feel the “facts” justify our smug, angry, blaming and negative behavior? On the other hand, in the moment of being “right” did we actually have any other options or did our communication model simply run dry? Did we have any alternatives that would make a misunderstanding or bad situation better? The answer is resoundingly no. We did not have an option in the moment. We may feel regret later, but in the moment these options were non-existent. We acted and spoke with the conviction we felt. 

It turns out that no matter who we are this hardwired, reactive behavior slips into our conversations at some point. Instead of asking why the anomaly exists, we respond by saying, “Yes, I’m aware that some times I make conversations worse or at least no better. Everybody is guilty of this at times. When I’m angry at someone, its usually because they deserve it!” 

Being “right” because of facts or feelings is an example of our reaction to other’s behavior. Misunderstanding not to their core intentions. As will be explained in detail later, people’s core intentions are always the same – well meaning. Moreover, it is rarely the whole person that we are in conflict with; just a certain aspects of their personality, behavior, incompetence, attitude, opinion or choice of topic. What we are left with is a feeling that these clashes have made ongoing communications with these people unsatisfying, frustrating and possibly grounds for complete avoidance. arily achieving the results we originally desired.

However, if this is a spouse, child, peer, employee or boss, it is not practical. We will have to communicate with them again, no matter the discomfort or possibility of rejection. Being affected by the relationship anomaly is not limited to a particular demographic. No matter what our education, experience or the strength of our willpower, this anomaly takes place. Whether we are professional, royalty, illiterate or functioning beyond expectations, the relationship anomaly affects our life. It can occur instantly with anyone we meet. Even so, the anomaly is more prominent with the significant people in our lives as they are the principal consumers of our time, resources and our sense of value. These significant people in particular have the power to make our life fulfilling or awkward by the way we react or respond to their behavior. Who are the significant people that push our emotional buttons repeatedly and so easily? • They are our spouses, children, in-laws, relatives and neighbors. • They are our bosses, peers, employees, competitors or venders. • They are politicians, public servants, waiters, clerks and strangers. What is predictable about our reaction to specific behavior acted-out by significant others? Our reaction to them is habitual, predictable, chronic, and long-term. It is the same reaction each time. Further, if the first person we react to is replaced with a second, who acts out the same behavior, we will react habitually as if the first person were still present. For example, when a particular high verbal co-worker upsets us; we may fail to see that all people who are high verbal push our buttons. To extend this notion further, it could be stated that we react to other people’s reactions to our behavior and visa versa. So, why do we (over or under) react to specific people’s behaviors? • We over or under react to other’s behavior as adults, because of what behavior was over or under empathized by our caregivers during times of stress – either, for example, over done (extreme shaming) or under done (lack of affection). 

• We react to other’s behavior to protect ourselves from feeling that which is missing within. What is missing within, disguised just below awareness, is being seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued by significant others. In other words, being acceptable just as we are. Just as we see ourselves from the place of our Core Intentions. 

• We over or under react to other people because they have the potential to see and speak our flaws, or as described above, to expose what is missing within. We protect ourselves by reacting to their behavior before they can potentially expose us or make us feel vulnerable. 

• When communications decline with significant others, we begin to avoid further interactions that expose us to uncomfortable situations. We feel the interaction may lead to more misunderstanding and thus is not emotionally worth the time or effort. We suck in our feelings and live with the void. 

• In reality, when avoidance is the default behavior, our personal relationship model has run out of options. Optional ways to deal with specific behaviors that we are hypersensitive to in others. When options are not available, this default behavior takes control over of the situation. This leads us to feeling “right,” but not necessarily happy.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Taylor Consulting  All Rights Reserved.

© Scott Taylor 2020