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Our Tolerance For Our Loved Ones’ Negative Qualities Diminishes Over Time

Ever find that you treat complete strangers better than friends or loved ones? It turns out there’s a psychological reason for it that involves one’s tolerance to close associates’ negative qualities.

What’s the Latest?

Do you find that you treat total strangers better than your loved ones? Or that your worst behavior is reserved for longtime friends and family? You’re probably not alone, says Dr. Alex Lickerman in Psychology Today:

it’s not that all the wonderful things we loved about our loved ones when they first entered our lives have gradually become repulsive to us… Rather, it’s that our tolerance for all the things we’ve always disliked invariably diminishes over time.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Lickerman offers three suggestions for better appreciating your loved ones. The first is to take time to visualize what life would be like without them (the inverse George Bailey approach). As Lickerman explains, nothing boosts feelings of gratitude quite like the threat of loss. The second strategy is to increase the amount of time you spend with your unappreciated loved one with additional company. As we are all products of who we’re with as much as anything else, our behavior tends to improve in front of additional eyes. Finally, be sure to take a break from your loved ones from time to time. This is not so much a strategy for taking a breather away from your friends, but rather an opportunity to gain a new perspective on your relationship.

Keep reading at Psychology Today

Photo credit: Chinaview / Shutterstock


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