The 1-10 Rule

Sometimes it amazes me how complex we are as human beings. The number of emotions we feel and the depths to those emotions is mind boggling. What I find most intriguing is that what you feel is entirely different than what I feel even if its in reference to the same thing or event. I might get frustrated when someone is late to a meeting where you might not think its that big of a deal.

How many times have you been annoyed, frustrated, or irritated by something and your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, lover) didn’t think it was that big of a deal? You thought in your head, “how can you not be mad about this?” “how can you be okay with this?” Their reaction to the issue at hand is not what you wanted, their level of attention does not match the magnitude in which the situation matters to you, and all of a sudden you’re in an argument.

We see our partners as extensions of ourselves and expect them to feel the exact same way we do but that’s just not the case. This is why I love the 1 – 10 rule. If you can quantify the level of feeling you are going through, the person you are talking to now has a frame of reference. The way this rule works is that when you are feeling something you need to literally verbalize the level, out of 10, that you are feeling it. I am 7/10 annoyed, I am 3/10 stressed, I am 9/10 jealous. It is important to be honest with your assessment so that the other person can learn which situations bring you closer to the breaking point and which don’t. If you have a hard time choosing an exact number out of 10, try starting with I am over 5 or under 5 [insert emotion here]. Michael and I use this for even the littlest things like hunger, and level of tiredness.

Now all of a sudden you can show exactly how much something matters to you or is affecting you. The other person in the situation will then have a better idea of the kind of reaction and attention you are looking for. Once you start putting this into action you’ll realize so much about each other. Something that is 9/10 for you could be 2/10 for them and that explains so much!

For example –

Michael loves to go with the flow, I on the other hand get excited about plans. Not that I like to plan things (I am not that organized) but when there is a plan in motion already (ex. we are going camping, seeing a movie) I get fired up in my head about it and think about how to time my day, what I’m going to wear, and anything else I think would add to the experience. Once in a while Michael will just completely change the plan last minute and let me know that it’s changed literally in the car on the way. This is 7/10 annoying for me and 1/10 annoying for him. Before we knew that about each other he just didn’t think it was that big of a deal so he would expect me to just go along with the plan and not need to talk about it where I would become upset thinking he was being inconsiderate of my feelings. From using the 1-10 rule I know that Michael will probably do this again because its not something he cares too much about but he also knows I might get upset because it really matters to me. Naturally, I will be more understanding when it happens, and he will be more apologetic and aware so it happens less frequently.

–       Start by telling your partner that you want to try this rule. Talk about it, get on the same page.

–       Begin quantifying things other than emotions – hunger, boredom, humour. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first, laugh about it!

–       If you have a hard time picking an exact number use “I am over/under 5”

–       Start seeing your love grow deeper!

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