There are times in a relationship where it is necessary and useful to be assertive.
There are no times in a relationship where it is necessary and useful to be aggressive. Although there is a big difference between being assertive and aggressive, there can be a fine line that separates them.
You want to be assertive when you feel strongly about a topic being discussed, especially if the topic creates a non-negotiable situation for you. An example of such a situation is if your mate wants to ride a ferris wheel and you are deathly afraid of heights. You might say, “No, I don’t want to do that,” in a nice neutral tone and your partner may insist. This is where a firm, assertive response is required. Eye contact and a level voice can make your message clear.
Assertiveness is a wonderful way to honor your own feelings and thoughts without hurting another person. It’s your way to stand with integrity and take care of yourself. When you do this, you walk away from a conversation feeling strong, secure, and full of self-love, regardless of whether your mate agreed with you or not.
Assertiveness is all about setting boundaries by respecting yourself and the other person.
Aggressiveness is when you cross a boundary with the intent of verbally or physically controlling another person. This can be done by getting in someone’s face and screaming, chasing after someone who wants to separate himself or herself from you, or in the worst case scenario, trying to harm someone physically.
There is absolutely no room for aggressiveness in a relationship of any kind, unless of course, you are being attacked and must defend yourself. That would be a life-threatening situation.
Be careful, though, because if you tend toward the aggressive personality, there is a thin line that separates a grown-up conversation and a volatile one. If you are a person who can go from 0 to 60 in a second, you must be vigilant about that habit. I recommend you have an exit plan when you feel your emotions escalating so you won’t become aggressive. Make sure you tell the other person you are leaving, but will return.
If you have an aggressive nature, it can often be tamed with practice of replacing it with assertiveness. If your own diligence in doing this doesn’t help, it is up to you to reach out for professional help.
If you learn nothing else from this blog, please learn that there is a distinct difference between being assertive and aggressive. With assertiveness, everyone in the relationship wins!