Warning: This article contains spoilers about the episode of Girls that aired February 16.
The snow is just starting to melt in many parts of the country, but on Girls, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s summertimeÃ¢â‚¬”and Marnie has invited the four main characters to spend the weekend at the beach with her so they can resolve their issues and learn how to reconnect.
Of course, things donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go quite as planned: After an unexpected run-in with her now openly gay ex Elijah, Hannah invites him and his friends over to the beach house, effectively preventing Marnie from playing group therapist. The move pisses Marnie off, but it also gives Hannah a glimpse into ElijahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budding relationship with a guy named PalÃ¢â‚¬”and she doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like what she sees.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the way that Pal talks to you,Ã¢â‚¬Â she tells Elijah. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like it. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s condescending. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not respectful.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel great,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Elijah, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to break up with him or anything.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not saying break up with him, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m saying talk to him,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Hannah.
Elijah does decide to say something to Pal, but the move backfires when Elijah drops the L word for the first time during the conversation. Pal responds by saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m starting to think this isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t what you think it is.Ã¢â‚¬Â Not wanting to lose Pal altogether, Elijah ends the conversation and starts hooking up with Pal instead.
In the show, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious that Elijah shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be with this guy. But in real life, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not always so black and white. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (relatively) easy to drop someone new youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been seeing if they treat you disrespectfully. But if your long-time partner uncharacteristically belittles an idea you have or otherwise talks down to you in some way, how should you respond?
That depends, says Seth Meyers, Ph.D. a licensed psychologist and author of Dr. Seth's Love Prescription. Sometimes people can say things they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re stressed outÃ¢â‚¬”or they may simply not realize how their words came out. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If it's an isolated behavior, try to just let that go," says Meyers.
But if disrespectful comments become a regular part of your relationship, it's important to bring it up. Meyers suggests broaching the topic when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both relaxed and getting along. To keep your partner from getting defensive, start by saying something positive like, "Normally, you're always so sweet to meÃ¢â‚¬”which is why tonight I was confused when I brought up my idea to start a fashion website and you were pretty negative about it. I know you probably didn't mean anything by it, but it made me feel a little disrespected." It can be helpful to bring up a specific example or two of what exactly your partner said that hurt your feelings, but you'll definitely want to avoid citing a laundry list of offenses, says Meyers, since that can come off as spiteful. You'll also want to give your partner a sense of what type of response you'd prefer in the future. So in the example above, you could say, "I would have felt a lot more supported if you'd made some suggestions instead of just shooting down my idea altogether."
If your partner does respect youÃ¢â‚¬”as they should in any healthy relationshipÃ¢â‚¬”then you should notice them making more of an effort to reflect that in their behavior. And if you still donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re getting the respect you want after talking to your partner, ending the relationshipÃ¢â‚¬”no matter how long youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been togetherÃ¢â‚¬”is of course always an option.