Are you mad at me, is the relationship equivalent to the kids yelling in the back of the car, are we there yet? It is the annoying question that gets inserted when we are not sure what our partner is feeling.
For some reason, this phrase has become the go-two when we want to spark a conversation with how our significant other is feeling. I would also venture to say that 90 percent of the time the answer is going to be “no”. Even when the person is mad at you, literally, they will say no. It feels like it is a trap. It is confusing, for everyone. The person asking the question is, more than likely, directing their feelings of inadequacy towards the other person. Not inadequacy as a person, but inadequacy in communication. As we partner together in relationships or marriages we go through a huge learning curve on what the other person is feeling. Even after that curve has been met, we spend ample time getting to know the other person throughout the relationship.
So why even ask the question? You are waiting for their tone and demeanor, not actually the answer to the question. Try to wait and watch their tone and demeanor in normal conversation. After you gather the appropriate amount of information and consider that they possibly are mad (or sad, upset, tired, preoccupied, or hundreds of other emotions that we as humans may feel), then maybe offer your listening and insert something like; Babe, how are you today? How was work? How was school? All these questions provoke conversation; the person will begin to discuss the day with you and eventually some type of emotions will come out and they will also divulge who those emotions were directed at.
You are making a lot of assumptions when you even ask if a person is mad. You are making a tremendous amount more when you insert: at me? Of the many emotions that we can feel as humans and the thousands of people in our lives that we can feel them at; maybe we can corporately and consciously try to leave this phrase out of our relationships.
In a relationship, we develop many words or actions that we only share with the other person. It is the language that both parties make up all their own; may include sarcasm, baby talk, or funny somethings. An example is ours (my boyfriend and me) became, “Are you sad at me?” It was a funny way for us to develop our own way to talk to one another. We understand that the phrase is not literal and we joke and talk between one another. Develop and alternative with your partner to replace the dreadful question, “Are You Mad at Me?”
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.