One of the many things I have learned from being in a relationship is that people tend to have very different perspectives on things. This is especially true when it comes to what upsets people.
I have found that some things that do not bother me at all really annoy some other people. For example, I am accustomed to living with pets. I don’t like finding a hair in my food and I am not pleased when my husky tracks mud on the floor, but I deal with it and get on with things. However, people who are not as accustomed to pets might react very badly to these things. To me they are minor, but perhaps to her they are very serious things indeed.
It is easy and tempting to assume that what is a minor annoyance (or not at all annoying) to you will be seen the same way by the person you are dating or involved with. Also, it is natural to assume that what really bothers you will also really bother her. After all, people tend to think that how they see the world is the right and only way. Of course, this is not true at all-people see the world quite differently and react differently. It is important to keep this in mind if you want to try to avoid problems. While no one can be a mind reader, it is a good idea to try to figure out your partner’s perspective and to help him/her see your perspective. Otherwise, trouble is all but certain.
It is also tempting to assume that some things are objectively minor or major. In some cases, this makes sense. For example, if someone freaks out because your dog looks at her, then she is overreacting. As another example, if someone gets upset because your cat peed on his laptop and took a kitty dump in his overnight bag, then he is reacting normally.
In other cases, the appropriate reaction is a rather subjective thing. Based on past experiences, people see things differently and assess them differently. For example, if a person was hit by their previous partner, s/he might react very strongly to play rough housing. Also, everyone has quirks of personality such that certain things just really bother them, although most other folks will see it as no big deal. While too many or too weird traits like these can be marks of insanity, I’ve noticed that all normal people have a few. For example, I get really annoyed if someone touches a glass I am drinking from-provided that their fingers touch the part that my lips have been touching. I don’t have an abnormal fear of disease, but that just bugs me disproportionally.
What can confuse matters a bit is that sometimes people jokingly pretend to be annoyed when they really are not. This is most often done in response to things that are usually not seen as annoying at all. It is the over-reaction that is supposed to be funny. Of course, since people differ in what they see as a serious matter, it is easy to think that your partner is jokingly over reacting to something you see as minor when, in fact, s/he is really upset by it.
What can also muddy things is that people will often over-react to something that is not really the problem. This is because they are angry or upset about something else that they are unwilling to confront head on. So, they express anger or displeasure over something else. This can be rather confusing and a problem. After all, if you think your partner is angry because you leave the toilet seat up, but she is really angry because you are not talking about your feelings, then you won’t be able to solve the problem. If you take pains to put the seat down, then she will find some other minor thing to be angry about. This is why it is important for people to be clear about what it is that really bothers them rather than using other things as anger surrogates.