Attribution Theory and Relationship Trouble

attribution theory says rude behavior may be circumstantialWhen someone acts badly, it’s tempting to see them as simply a rude, selfish, or inconsiderate person. But it might not be quite so simple.

Attribution Theory says that when others behave badly, we tend to attribute their bad behavior to personality. But when we behave in similar ways, we think of our behavior in terms of an exception to a general rule (i.e., good behavior).

We’re always the hero in our own minds, doing the best we can under the circumstances. Read More

What to Do When Someone Won’t Talk to You

Sad teddy bear estranged from stuffed bunny

Estrangement from important others is a sad fact of life for many people. One of the most painful experiences a parent can have is to be rejected by an adult child who appears to want nothing to do with them. Estrangement between siblings, in-laws, neighbors, even coworkers, is also common.

The reasons for estrangement are as diverse as the parties involved. Sometimes there was a very close relationship in the past, and something happened that created distance.

This may have happened either slowly over time or rather suddenly, but once that distance was created, it solidified into estrangement. Or, the relationship was never as close as it could have been, and the gap just kept getting wider, until there was no relationship at all.

If you're estranged from an adult child, a sibling or someone in your social circle, and the estrangement is their choice rather than yours, you're probably feeling rejected.

Rejection is a powerful emotion that can lead to all sorts of defensive behavior, which in turn can further alienate the rejecting person. If someone has chosen to have little or no contact with you, it's important to acknowledge any softer feelings you may have about that.

Parent-Child Estrangement Is Sometimes (But Not Always) About Abuse

Girl, upset, with mother in backgroundI received the following feedback about an excerpt from my book, Reconnecting With Your Estranged Adult Child, and I wanted to respond.

Unfortunately, the feedback was anonymous.

Surely this person is not alone. So I thought I’d respond with a blog post…

S/he wrote:

I read through your entire page on Estrangement and I’ve got to say that it all felt a bit like you’re condoning the behaviour of abusive parents; telling them they need not feel any remorse for the suffering they’ve caused and they need to practice more self-compassion.

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Estrangement Takes Two, Part 2

Being cut off from someone you love is not only painful but apparently common, judging from the amount of feedback I receive about the estrangement advice on my website.

In that article, I advise the person who’s been cut off and wants to reconcile to act on all those good cliches: turn the other cheek, be the bigger person, and do whatever it takes to apologize and make amends.*

Outraged By Estrangement

Well.

That advice riles many readers. Read More