How to cope with being blind

Last year, I sustained a traumatic injury that left me blind in one eye. It has been a long road just to get to a point where I’m not struggling with it every minute of the day. I have been asked so many questions about how this has changed my life. The truth is, everything has changed. Below is a sample of questions I have been asked; the answers are based solely on my personal experience.

“It happened so long ago, aren’t you over this yet?”

Blindness isn’t something you adjust to easily or within a short amount of time. For my entire life I saw the world with two eyes. Suddenly, the vision in my right eye was taken from me in a terrible accident. Having no depth perception has been one of the hardest aspects to deal with. The adjustment has been a long process, still ongoing a year and a half later. Be patient with somebody you know who is newly blind while they navigate through this new normal. They do not see things the same way anymore, and it takes time for your brain to adjust to that.

“If you see something, you aren’t really blind, are you?”

My blindness isn’t the same as anyone else’s blindness. Like many others, before my injury, I thought if you were blind you saw complete darkness. This is not true; there are so many variables when it comes to blindness caused by trauma. No two eyes are going to have the same visual experience. While some have no central vision, others have very limited central vision, and some have no peripheral vision. In my case, there is what is similar to a black cloud covering most of my central vision. While I can see light in the outer parts of my visual field, any objects I do see are blurry. I also have no peripheral vision; I do not see you even when you are right next to me.

“You applied for disability, right?”

Being blind in one eye usually doesn’t make you qualified for disability benefits, though I believe it should. In most cases you can still work, drive and do most activities you did before losing your vision. However, in my experience it is extremely stressful both physically and emotionally. The mind plays great tricks on you when you are trying to perceive things with no depth perception. I now see moving objects in 3D; for example, when driving through a patch of falling leaves, there is no longer a delicate nature to them. I now perceive them as heavy objects that can break through my windshield. Even something as familiar as writing is hard, the pen never hits the paper in the right place. Simple things that you have seen and easy tasks you have performed your entire life are now so different, it can be very frustrating.

“I closed one eye for a while to see what it was like.”

Being blind in one eye isn’t the same as closing one eye for a while — mostly because if you need to, you can open your eye. You are not living with constant floaters and flashing lights, you do not have the fear of one day going completely blind, you do not get nervous in crowds, and you do not have to worry about further deterioration of your eye. The emotional stress is not there for you.

“I cannot believe this happened to you; it was just one of those freak accidents.”

My blindness isn’t due to a freak accident. Many call it that, but I have unfortunately discovered it is more common than you may think. I was hit by a line drive traveling around 100 mph; my vision was gone upon impact. Many, many people sustained a visual impairment or blindness just from attending a baseball game, injuries that were totally preventable by MLB.

Navigating through a life-changing injury is anything but easy. Be patient with the person who was injured, be compassionate, be available to listen to them and be safe!

It sounds strange, but if there was an ideal time for me to have gone blind, it was when I did. I was 21 when I first noticed some blurred vision, in October 1999. Within a year I was registered blind from diabetic retinopathy. I have no sight whatsoever in either eye.

At first I envisaged a life just sat in my parents’ house in Buckinghamshire, for ever. But at a RNIB rehabilitation centre, I learned to touch type, do ironing, cleaning and washing, and I’ve never looked back. It’s incredible what you can do if you just learn to do it in a different way. It’s all about always knowing where things are. I now much prefer not being able to see anything at all to being partially sighted. It took at least five years to adapt, but now I can get on with things.

Before I lost my sight, I didn’t have any plans to leave home. But I realised I had to live on my own if I was going to have any quality of life. My family tried their very best to put everything back where I’d be able to find it, but it’s not possible. I couldn’t get a guide dog because my parents had two dogs already. After a fight with the council, I moved into my own housing association house at 25, four years ago. I chose everything I wanted, all colour-coordinated. Even though I can’t see it, I can kind of imagine it.

Here I have my guide dog, Jasper. I can do pretty much everything for myself, because I can live in a safe environment. If you were watching me make a cup of tea, I don’t think you’d be able to tell that I couldn’t see. I can put my hand immediately on the handle of the kettle. I have a talking microwave, clock, scales, measuring jug. I have the best computer, which scans my post and reads it to me – that has given me back some privacy.

But all this costs so much more. My grandmother bought a lot of these things for me, because there’s no allowance from the government to help with equipment. And as soon as I open my front door, things become a problem. The RNIB is campaigning to increase the allowance to help blind people travel outside the home. Outside, everything is so unfamiliar, and familiarity is everything to someone who is blind.

At home I value being a host. I cook for people at least four nights a week. It can be lonely sometimes, when everyone goes. But even if I met somebody, I really don’t think I could live with them. It would be too difficult. I love the fact that I can shut the door and it’s my own again. Everything’s back in its place. That is what makes me feel comfortable and safe and confident.

Disability International
Winter 1997 – page 35

Condensed from Review of European Federal Republic of Germany

Many people would have mixed emotions if if they entertained the thought that one of their acquaintances had become deaf and blind, which would not be a surprising reaction considering that most information about the environment is taken in through the eyes (about 80 per cent). And then there is that which is received by the ears.

In what way then, does a deaf/blind individual, having neither a sense of hearing nor of vision, grasp his, or her environment?

As a deaf/blind person, I rely heavily on two of the remaining faculties, my sense of smell and sense of touch.

My sense of smell is my only possibility of gaining distant impressions of events happening around me. There are many more sensations our noses are able to provide us with than people think.

For example, when the air is clear and warm on a sunny Saturday afternoon, people will keep their windows open. So, going for a walk with my guide, I happen to learn, without being obtrusive, what some families are having for lunch.

This sense of smell can also tell me whether I am alone in a street or not. Somebody will be smoking a cigarette, someone else a cigar or a pipe. Sometimes you will be aware of a person who has had “one too many.”

I very much like sauntering through a big department store. Here there is the smell of bread, cakes, and pastries. Then the meat products will give themselves away. At still another place, the aroma of sweets will dominate. I could list many more examples of the pleasure that a deaf/blind person can derive from being in a big department store.

Waiting in a crowded barber shop need not degenerate into boredom either.

It is interesting to identify different sorts of after-shave lotions and shampoos. By means of one’s nose, it is easy to discover whether there are waiting customers reading newspapers. It should also be pointed out that particular garments have smells of their own.

Also. by the sense of smell I can gather travel impressions. On a certain train journey. there is the disagreeable smell of lignite as the train travels through a particular area, and other distinctive industrial odors at places along the line. I have no need to ask my guide where we are because my nose will let me know,

On another journey, I enjoy sitting on an express train and rolling along between Brandenburg and Potsdam with the windows open. There is a rather long stretch, which gives a wonderful smell of water, woods, and meadows, so that I feel like getting off the train and wandering about in the countryside.

A deaf/blind individual who is resolved to getting something out of life must also make use of his tactual sense and train his “feeling” to take advantage of all possible tactual sensations. In the street again, cars passing by at great speeds will stir the air to such an extent that the air stream and dust whirls up and affects pedestrians.

Heavy vehicles on the road cause vibrations that can be sensed, even indoors. Being out of doors and on the streets offers opportunities for further “training” of one’s tactual sense.

One can learn to know the type of stone a building consists of, whether a fence is wooden or iron. Even the different species of trees and flowers, which have been planted to improve the appearance of the street, have their own “tactile” identity.

When I go out for a walk, unintentional physical contacts will often be made as well. These contacts, even though they might be unpleasant, can provide “information.” Have you been jostled by a fat or thin person, bad or good-mannered? Was the person tall or short?

When loud music is playing in a hall, I notice it very well because of the vibrations emanating from table tops and from the floor. This applies in particular to resounding drum beats. Certain kinds of wood seem to be just made for it. Any violinist can demonstrate this property with his/her wooden instrument.

It is my hope and wish that these words may reach as many relatives of deaf/blind people as possible, so that the lives of deaf/blind individuals may become more varied and interesting.

How to cope with being blind

Vision loss is a difficult condition, but fortunately there are many low vision aids that can help you manage day to day.

If you are reading this you probably do not have low vision or you are already using these tools. Perhaps you know someone who is struggling, so pass on this information.

Some eye conditions, like diabetic retinopathy and certain corneal diseases, can be treated so that vision is restored or maintained. Unfortunately, some eye conditions cannot be treated, resulting in low vision or blindness. While one obvious challenge of vision loss is restoring mobility and function, there is also the emotional toll of vision loss to consider. There are steps you can take to better cope with the condition, including:

Learn More About Your Vision Loss

You can order written or taped materials on vision loss through state agencies and non-profit organizations. You may also find it helpful to discuss vision loss with your doctor, as well as other people who have lost vision.

Seek Therapeutic Counseling for Vision Loss

While vision loss can occur at any age, it occurs most often among mature adults. Like any other major life event, vision loss can bring feelings of loneliness, helplessness, anxiety, and depression. Doctors, state agencies, and non-profit organizations offer counseling services for those with vision loss and can provide referrals to other professionals based on individual needs. People with severe vision loss especially should be encouraged to consider these resources.

Grieving the Loss of Vision

The loss of vision is initially devastating. Understanding the process of grief associated with vision loss can help you and your loved ones deal with these physiological and emotional challenges.

Explore Adjustment Classes and Devices for Vision Loss

Tasks as simple as dressing in the morning or as complex as cooking a meal become new challenges after vision loss. In adjustment classes, individuals can learn new or alternative techniques to help maintain independence. While building mobility and motor skills, these classes and aids also teach the patience and confidence required to live with low vision on a daily basis.

What Low Vision Aids Are Available?

A variety of low vision aids are very useful. Popular low vision aids include:

  • Telescopic glasses
  • Lenses that filter light
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Hand magnifiers
  • Closed-circuit television
  • Reading prisms

These devices are stronger than regular eyeglasses and can be hand-held or stationary. You can also buy computer software that can alter screen images or read typed text to make new technology and electronic information readily available.

Non-optical aids are also helpful in daily activities. These devices “talk” to you, or offer enlarged print or Braille. Many also have special features, such as high contrast, that make them easier to see. Some popular non-optical devices include:

  • Text reading software
  • Braille readers
  • Check guides
  • High contrast clocks and watches
  • Talking watches and clocks
  • Large-print publications
  • Clocks, phones, and watches with enlarged numbers

Low vision clinics and agencies are available in many locations which can help people choose the most helpful vision aids and services for their personal visual problem.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 29, 2021

Reactions to being diagnosed with sight loss tend to be similar to bereavement – you may experience feelings of denial, anger and fear and ask yourself “why me?”

How to cope with being blind

It’s important to know that it’s OK to feel like this – these emotions are part of a process, and there will be a period of adjustment and loss from the life you used to have to the life you have now. Here you can explore and understand the most common feelings.

Shock and denial

Whether sight loss comes on suddenly or a diagnosis is confirmed after experiencing gradual change, shock is often the first reaction. It can be hard to take in the news, and you can find yourself carrying on as if nothing was different. You may also disbelieve the news or think the doctor has made a mistake. Of course, it’s reasonable to seek a second opinion and look for more information about treatments. But you may find yourself frantically seeking further diagnoses, or trusting in “miracle” cures that have no evidence to support them. This is called denial, and it may be the mind’s way of buying time to get used to a new experience. It should fade over time as you find ways to adjust to your situation.

Anger and questioning

You may get angry with the people around you, or with the services provided by official organisations. There might be legitimate targets for anger – for instance if your sight loss was caused by an injury, or if medical services were inadequate. Seeking justice or apologies can help you regain a sense of control. But sometimes you can feel angry when there’s no obvious target. You might wonder “why me?” and get caught up in searching for explanations even though they may not change anything. Anger can be a natural response to unwelcome changes in circumstances. In questioning how the situation happened you’re searching for ways to make things better. You may need time to explore whether you have the power to change things before you can feel ready to move on.

Helplessness, fear, anxiety

These feelings are part of the process of accepting what cannot be changed. This can be scary and may even send you back into denial. Common fears include: worries about income and having to be dependent on others to do things.Not being able to do things that others can do can feel intensely embarrassing, even shaming and can cause strong anxiety. Gaining new skills and confidence can help these feelings. But if you find anxiety or panic attacks becoming chronic, seek help from your GP or a counsellor.

You could also try No Panic an organisation for panic and anxiety problems: Telephone 0800 138 8889.

Sadness and grief

These may be obvious reactions but you might be surprised by the strength or depth of what you feel. This can be especially difficult for people who see themselves as “practical” and “good at coping”. It’s true that coping in an emergency can mean getting on with things without stopping to take notice of our feelings, but major life events such as sight loss require a longer, slower process of management. Allowing space for what you feel actually strengthens your ability to cope with change.

Depression

When sadness lasts a long time you can get depressed. This is a normal response to loss, but if it lasts for more than a few weeks and stops you getting on with normal life you may need professional help, especially if you get so low you have thoughts of harming yourself.

Seek help from your GP or a counsellor if you:

  • persistently feel unable to get up
  • are unable to eat normally
  • have disturbed sleep
  • cannot “be bothered” to see friends or family, or otherwise do what you would normally do

Visual hallucinations

Some people who have lost a lot of sight can start to see things that aren’t really there – known as visual hallucinations. This is a recognised condition called Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). The hallucinations caused by CBS are due to sight loss only and aren’t a sign that you have a mental health problem.

Our information about Charles Bonnet syndrome can give further details and advice about the condition. You can also contact our Eye Health Information team if you would like to speak to someone. Contact us via our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Esme’s Umbrella is a campaign group working to build up a greater awareness of CBS. They can also provide further support and you can contact them via telephone on 0345 051 3925 or via email esm [email protected] .

Loss of identity, renewal of identity

Without the opportunity to do the things you’ve always done you may wonder who you are – no longer the breadwinner, the reliable grandparent, the budding artist or the aspiring sportsperson. The fact is that many of these roles will not be lost to you permanently and with the right kind of adjustments will still be possible. You may also discover new careers and interests that you would not otherwise have tried. This may seem a long way off, but it’s important to hold in mind that new possibilities often arise when you’re ready for them. Adjusting your sense of identity is a major change and you might resist at first. Also, like the rest of the population, you are likely to have some inaccurate ideas of what it means to have a disability. Managing a new sense of self doesn’t happen overnight and each person will have their own way of getting there. It’s likely that you will have been feeling better for some time before you realise, by looking back, just how far you have come.

How long will it take?

It’s not easy to say how long the grieving process will last. Everyone is different. It’s normal to find that one or other reaction is around for weeks or even months but should lessen as time goes on and you learn to adjust to the changes in your life.

Further information

Talking to someone about your feelings can help. Find out about how to talk to somebody about your sight loss and counselling.

We also have more information on the different emotional support available from both RNIB and other organisations in our Emotional Support leaflet, which is part of our Starting Out series of leaflets.

To find out about products that may help you, visit our Online Shop.

More Articles

  1. Activities for the Elderly and Blind
  2. Aggressive Behavior Vs. Assertive Behavior
  3. Positive & Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
  4. Warning Signs That Someone Is Capable of Murder
  5. Schizophrenia Types of Hallucinations
  • Interaction with Environment
  • Social Interaction
  • Visual Symbols
  • Gainful Employment
  • Public Perception

The 1995 census showed that 2 million people in the United States are either completely sightless or have partially impaired sight. Blind people face challenges that the sighted do not have to overcome, and are often limited in their ability to live life.

Interaction with Environment

Blind people can have difficulty interacting with their environment. Because it can become difficult to perceive where one is and to get from one place to another, movement can become restricted, leading to having little contact with the surrounding world. While other senses can be enhanced, this can be offset by a tendency toward over-protection.

Social Interaction

Activities for the Elderly and Blind

Blind people are often restricted in their ability to interact socially. There can be an apprehension or awkwardness on the part of sighted people when dealing with the blind, which can lead to difficulty for the blind in developing relationships. As a result, they are often relegated to specific roles in society and are usually held to lower standards and expectations. According to Carrie Gilmer, president of Minnesota Parents of Blind Children, her 15-year-old visually impaired son Jordan has always been treated by his school with lowered expectations, despite the fact that Jordan was an honors student. At one point, school officials prohibited him from learning a nonvisual technique of woodworking.

  • Blind people are often restricted in their ability to interact socially.
  • There can be an apprehension or awkwardness on the part of sighted people when dealing with the blind, which can lead to difficulty for the blind in developing relationships.

Visual Symbols

Much of how we communicate is through the use of visual symbols. We depend on what we see to warn us of danger, to provide direction and to interact with people. The blind person is often placed in a situation of being excluded from these symbols, which in effect cuts them off from a portion of the world.

Gainful Employment

Aggressive Behavior Vs. Assertive Behavior

The blind have difficulty finding adequate employment. According to Independence Inc., 65 percent to 70 percent of blind people are either unemployed or underemployed, and the jobs they are able to obtain are often menial. Michelle Gittens, a blind music student and professional singer, said the worst part of being blind is the employment situation. “Not working is the biggest problem,” she said. “It’s dehumanizing.”

  • The blind have difficulty finding adequate employment.
  • Michelle Gittens, a blind music student and professional singer, said the worst part of being blind is the employment situation. “

Public Perception

The blind have to deal with a public perception that they are not capable of functioning as well in society as sighted people. Gittens said that whenever she would sit in a regular bus seat and not one intended for the handicapped, others would sometimes tell her that she did not belong there. According to the National Federation of the Blind, the visually impaired face a form of prejudice that can hold them back, and can only be eliminated through continuous efforts to educate the public.

How to cope with being blind

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How to cope with being blind

On the list of things that are important to dogs, you might find family, treats and toys — in no particular order. Their vision, or rather the loss of it, will likely be in the “no big deal” category.

“It’s more traumatic to us as an owner and as a pet parent than it is to the animal,” says Dr. Tammy Miller Michau, a board-certified ophthalmologist with BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “They care about things such as, are they with you? Are they being fed? Are they in a safe, warm environment? If they are, they can live very happy lives, even with a loss of vision.”

Signs your dog may be losing vision

If your dog’s vision is on the decline, you may notice:

Difficulty finding toys

Your dog gets startled easily

Cloudiness and/or red blood vessels in the eyes

Noticeable eye pain

Lower energy levels

If you see these signs, Dr. Miller suggests asking your vet to recommend a veterinary ophthalmologist for a consultation. Vision loss due to conditions like cataracts or glaucoma can sometimes be repaired or slowed through medical treatment or surgery, according to Dr. Miller.

If your older dog doesn’t romp around as much as they used to, it might actually be because they don’t see as well as they used to, she says.

“The fact is, a lot of times it can be related to their vision,” says Dr. Miller. “And if you can restore their vision or improve their vision, they act like they’re younger again.”

If you have a definitive diagnosis of vision loss from a vet that can’t be fixed, don’t worry, because your dog wouldn’t want you to. Given some time and assistance, your dog will learn to compensate by using other senses like hearing, smell and touch — all of which are already very keen in our canine friends.

Here are 18 tips for helping your blind buddy navigate life at home and outdoors.

1. Give your dog a safe zone.

It’s important to establish an area that’s cozy and safe — like a retreat for your blind pet.

“Have a comfortable, safe spot for your pet to be. A large soft-padded bed is helpful to keep them comfortable,” suggests Dr. Amber Andersen, a veterinarian and the medical director and owner of Redondo Veterinary Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California.

2. Talk to your dog frequently.

Your dog is already your most trusted confidant, so having regular conversations with your blind pooch will be even more important. The sound of your voice can help him figure out where he is. Use your voice to get his attention before touching him so you don’t scare or startle him.

3. Keep a consistent routine.

”Having a daily routine is very helpful,” suggests Sarah Conner of Atlanta, Georgia, who adopted her dog, Murphy, when he was already blind. “I took him to the same parks and on the same walking routes. He loved going to parks.”

4. Let others know your dog is blind.

Get a shirt, bandana or vest for your dog that reads “I’m blind” to wear on walks. Tell people about your dog’s condition so they approach slowly and let the dog sniff them first. Also, get a tag for your dog’s collar that says “I’m blind” in case it ever gets lost.

5. Create location cues.

If your foyer has a distinct rug, it could be a cue your blind dog will remember.

”I used a carpet runner on well-traveled parts of the home. Farfel could feel the floor and use it to correct his course if he got lost,” explains Sarah Lammie of Chicago, Illinois, whose dog lost his vision to glaucoma.

6. Dog-proof your home.

Get down on all fours and crawl around your home looking for hazards, such as things they could dangerously bump into or fall from. Put corner protectors on sharp furniture and baby gates at the tops of stairs until your dog can safely maneuver staircases.

7. Always keep food and water in the same place.

Once your dog has learned where his food is, it will be easier for him to return to it — and it will become another location cue.

“We always kept his food and water bowls in the same spot,” Conner says.

8. Use scents during activities.

A dog is a dog, so he can still fetch! Therefore, you can and should engage in active play with him or her. Rub a dog treat or put a small drop of essential oil on a dog toy before throwing it to help your pooch find it and choose an open, safe area for him to play in.

9. Walk your blind dog through the house.

You can help your dog create a house roadmap.

“Leashing the dog and walking him around will help him familiarize and navigate through the house,” Andersen says.

10. Try a new water dish.

A fountain-style dog bowl that constantly circulates water is practical for a blind dog because it makes noise. The sound of running water will help your dog more easily find it.

11. Leave the television on.

Even pets who haven’t lost their sight enjoy ambient noise. Keeping a TV or radio on while you’re gone not only orients your dog to different rooms of the house, it also reduces feelings of loneliness.

12. Choose toys that make noise.

Toys that give treats, squeak, talk or make noise are especially rewarding for blind dogs.

“Our dog loved Kongs and could still work the food out of them; he even taught another puppy how to do it when he was blind,” says Lammie.

13. Create sounds around your house.

Attach small bells to your shoes or to other pets’ collars to help your dog hear you moving about the house. This is helpful until he is more familiar with listening to the sounds of footsteps and vibrations from movement.

14. Don’t change the floor plan.

Once you have arranged the furniture in a room in a way that’s safe for your dog and allows for ease of movement, try not to change it again.

“Keeping everything in place will help prevent disorientation and injury,” Andersen says.

15. Use textured rugs in your house.

Place rugs or floor mats of different textures near the outside doors and at the top and bottom of the steps. This will help your dog learn these locations.

16. Keep the floor clear of objects.

Tidiness must now be your strong suit. Toys, shoes, clothes or other objects on the floor quickly become tripping hazards for a blind dog, so keep the areas he frequents most free of clutter.

17. Try a blind dog “halo.”

There are several companies that manufacture circular halos that are worn on a harness or vest, surrounding the blind dog’s head and face. It works by bumping into furniture or other obstructions before your dog does. Dr. Miller says these can be reassuring for blind dogs.

18. Introduce new commands to increase safety.

Teach your dog important words like “step up,” “step down,” “left,” “right,” “danger” or “stop” to help him navigate the inside and outside world in the safest way possible.

Above all, don’t forget to treat your pooch just like you would any other beloved pet, because that’s what he is first and foremost.

Every breakup has a story. The sooner you find it, the sooner you bounce back.

THE BASICS

  • Why Relationships Matter
  • Find a therapist to strengthen relationships

How to cope with being blind

The pain of rejection in a romantic relationship is strongest when it comes as a surprise. One minute you believe everything is fine, and in the next you are blindsided by breakup news.

“I was excited to go out to dinner with my boyfriend. I chose a nice outfit and looked forward to a romantic evening. Over dessert he told me the relationship was not working and he was breaking up with me. I was like, Really? What is this, my last supper before the end? I felt physically ill.”

If you have been blindsided by a partner, you know the feelings all too well: Your heart leaps from your chest, your brain freezes, and your skin sweats. You have no idea how to respond or how to take in this new reality. And the worst part is ahead—when you beat yourself up, wondering how you didn’t know that your partner was unhappy. How could you not see that the one you loved most was spending time calculating how to end your relationship?

Keep in mind that someone who’s going to blindside you sets the stage for you to think everything is fine—and then pushes you off a cliff. Mike said:

“I was working on fixing my girlfriend’s front porch. I had just placed the last piece of wood and painted it, and then she told me that we were through. Like, could you have told me before I fixed the porch?”

The partner who is blindsided feels used, confused, and betrayed. Most breakups come after a series of conversations. When you’re blindsided, you’re left stunned and alone, trying to figure out what happened. As I discuss in Breaking Up and Divorce: 5 Steps , making your own sort of closure after a divorce or breakup accelerates the letting-go and getting-better processes.

Consider these four questions as you come to terms with being blindsided:

1. Did your partner ever talk about the negative aspects of your relationship?

Healthy relationships have ups and downs. It’s important to be able to openly discuss the pitfalls in your relationship. It’s equally important to recognize that there will always be some frustration and disillusionment. Working through these conflicts builds intimacy in the relationship and helps you to know exactly where you stand with your partner. Blindsiders tend to avoid negative emotion. If they feel you getting upset, they work to remove the upset immediately with little to no verbal problem-solving or communication. You get a hint every now again when they are displeased with you, but rarely do they ever directly communicate their displeasure. As a result, you may carry a lingering sense of insecurity in the relationship and sometimes wonder if everything is OK. You don’t bring this topic up with your partner because you know it won’t be a productive conversation.

2. Is your blindsider a people-pleaser in general?

Blindsiders are usually compulsive people-pleasers. They don’t want anyone to be upset with or critical of them. And if they are upset, they internalize their feelings and avoid you. They never bring conflict to the table and instead work hard to get along and be pleasant. The negative side of this is that such individuals never know how they really feel about an issue, and suppress their true emotions. Eventually, like a pressure cooker, their emotions pile up and become overwhelming. By the time they realize they are unhappy, they have to leave. They don’t give you a chance to work on things or respond to their upset because they have no experience with successfully working through conflict. Take an objective look at how your partner deals with conflict in his or her life. Does the person ever argue with their mother, father, brother, sister, or friends? Can he or she directly disagree with people, or just say “no” when they don’t want to do something? Do they tend to avoid conflict at all costs?

3. Do you avoid your emotions?

Were you taking your own feelings seriously and letting yourself say whatever needed to be said, or did you also repress and push away upset? The person who is blindsided often has difficulty cueing in to the important data in a relationship. Start working on becoming more in touch with your emotions—how you feel in the presence of certain people, what types of personalities light you up, and what types bring you down. Start making a special effort to directly communicate your emotions to people. Feelings are data: They measure the temperature of life and our relationships. If you consistently turn down the heat on your feelings, then you won’t really know what is going on in your relationships. The more self-aware you are, the easier it will be to understand the motives of others.

THE BASICS

  • Why Relationships Matter
  • Find a therapist to strengthen relationships

4. Were there problems that you ignored?

Take a cold, hard look at the relationship. There is no way it was all positive if you’ve just been blindsided. Take your partner off of the pedestal—and yourself as well. Write down what was happening between the two of you that neither of you dared to talk about. Were you upset more often than you care to remember, or was your partner demonstrating upset non-verbally? Were there conflicts that you both ignored or ruts of behavior and routine that you couldn’t escape? Every breakup has a story: As you force yourself to look at a more complete version of yours, you lay the groundwork for a better experience the next time you grow close to someone.