ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Social Dissonance: Your Relationship Jiu-Jitsu

Updated on June 10, 2016

Recognizing the Problem

I used to be in a very poor relationship. Not in the sense that we didn't have money (though we didn't have money, now that I think about it), but in the sense that we kept getting in the exact same fights over...and over...and over again. As much as I cared about her, the fights, which were always about nothing even remotely important, kept getting triggered somehow. Sometimes she would say something that was obviously trying to get me to start a fight, and sometimes I would say something that was an attempt to get her riled up.

But after all these fights, while we temporarily felt a little better that it was done, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing about our relationship changed, we just felt a little better after getting upset and then calming down.

It got me thinking about the root cause of those fights. Specifically, those triggers that each of us seemed to habitually re-ignite. How could I stop them?

Driving a Car

When you learn how to drive a car, your entire conscious awareness is on full blast. It's very clear that you don't know how to handle this situation, so your body automatically recruits the help of your conscious mind to figure it out. After a few months, for most of us, that process becomes ingrained in us--it becomes habitual.

If you've ever known someone who was a bad driver, they probably stayed a bad driver for a long time. Unless they get in an accident, after all, what reason do they have to change? What they expect to happen, keeps happening. From their point of view, they have no need for their conscious mind.

But, if they get in an accident, or they get a few traffic tickets, they might feel the need to completely fix their driving habits. Their conscious mind is then re-recruited to fix this problem, and to teach themselves some new skills. This is the basic formula for life: make something habitual so you can focus on more complicated tasks.

Relationships Become Like Driving

When my girlfriend would do something to start a fight, she was expecting a particular emotional response. She would say something to specifically get me riled up because she expected there to be a fight. This was a habit that we let ourselves get into--it was a habit that neither of us were going to change unless we "got in an accident" or "got too many speeding tickets."

In other words, we needed to change the response. It was my duty as her boyfriend to respond in a way that was so different that it shocked her into conscious awareness. I needed dissonance: something to contradict the result she expected.

It was our only hope to change this unhealthy automated response pattern.


What I decided to do was simple: Whenever I thought she was starting a fight, I would completely change the subject
to her. I would ask her how she was doing, and if everything was alright. Usually, she would respond with "everything's fine." Then, I would remind her that I'm always there for her, and she can talk about something if she wanted to with me. If she kept trying to start a fight, I would act confused--kind of like a dog that gets confused when you're actually leaving home without him. It was also a "take it or leave it" attitude. I told myself, "I can only help her if she lets me," but I was determined to change the fighting culture that our relationship had undergone.

I would be sincere, because it was the truth, but I would also say it in a very matter-of-fact tone. I was there for her if she needed me to be, but in the context of her trying to start a fight she did not expect that. She was thrown off by these responses because she didn't anticipate me reminding her that I was there for her at that time. I acted confused and further caused her to be in a totally new situation: in other words, she had to relearn how to drive.

By completely and consciously changing the click...whir response system inside her head, and by helping her analyze the response she expected vs. the response she got, I brought her conscious mind to the forefront. I helped her call upon reason and logic to fix the problem, instead of trying to convince her that she needed to be reasonable and logical.

I've found that this method works not just in romantic relationships. With enough persistence on your part (because they will keep trying to get the same response), you can improve relationships with friends, family members, coworkers--all by insisting that you're looking out for their best interests when they least expect it. If you're perfectly fine, and calmly confident, in the way that you say it, the sky is the limit.

Thanks for reading. For more thoughts like this, see It's free, and always will be.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)