SGR 023 | Logic vs. Feelings
- And the Winner is...
Logic versus emotion.
This topic has become super common in couples we work with. One partner in a relationship tends to be more logical and the other tends to be more emotional. One partner approaches problems with the scientific method and A+B=C and the other starts from a place of feeling and works towards a solution from there.
Is one better than the other?
We don’t think so.
The problem is when couples get stuck in a cycle of trying to convince one another to come over to their side. The “logical” partner says, “come over here, I’m explaining this so clearly - there’s no chance you won’t ultimately agree with me.” The “emotional” partner says, “I’m feeling really upset, frustrated, and not thought of. I need you to understand how I’m feeling so that we can move on.” And they continue back and forth with a script similar to this until one or both partners become so frustrated they give up.
The “logical” partner explains their perspective on the situation using facts, observations, and worldly“truths.” They’re coming from a well-intentioned place and looking to help their partner feel better. The focus is to explain why their partner doesn’t need to feel the way they do.
Unfortunately, this approach can make the “emotional” partner feel unheard, dismissed, and unimportant. It can exacerbate their negative emotions and leave them feeling invalidated and not cared about. The outcome is very far from what both partners intended.
So, what do you do instead?
First, download this week’s bonus - 5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Figure Out What Your Partner Needs (link to: LeadPage). Then, listen to this week’s episode because we’re talking all about what to do. On this episode, we’re discussing:
- Why we tend to get logical when our partner gets emotional
- Why it’s hard for our partner when we are logical and they are emotional
- How to share logic when your partner is emotional
- How to share emotion when your partner is logical
- How to communicate in an effective way - so your partner hears you
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
Why we tend to get logical when our partner gets emotional - 2:16
Why it’s hard for our partner when we’re logical and they’re emotional - 7:05
The best way to respond in that situation - 9:53
How to share logic when your partner is emotional - 12:04
How to share emotion with your partner - 17:43
How to get to the emotion when your partner is logical - 22:28
Marina and Meredith’s takeaways - 26:26
Meredith: Hey there and welcome to episode 023 of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us. I’m Meredith Silversmith and this is Marina Voron. And today we are talking about LOGIC VS. FEELINGS.
Marina: That’s quite the battle there.
Meredith: Yeah! It’s a big battle. This is something that comes up a lot with the couples that we worked with. So we thought it was worthwhile to talk about with you today. We’re gonna be covering why we love getting logical when our partners get emotional, why it’s hard for our partners when we’re logical and they’re emotional, the best way to respond in that situation, how to share logic when your partner's emotional, how to get to the emotion when your partner’s logical. So, we’re tackling it from both sides today. And how to communicate in an effective way in those situations so your partner really hears you. We’re gonna touch on all of it, so whichever side you’re on, if you’re the logical one or you’re the emotional one, we’ve got you covered today. Be sure you stay with us until the very end because we’ve got a great bonus for you and we’re gonna tell you how to get it.
Marina: I’m really excited for today’s episode because I think this is one that a lot of people will relate to. I guess let’s start with the big question of, “Why we love getting logical when our partner’s get emotional?” And I think this is not just our partners when people we’re dealing with get emotional. So, what are your thoughts?
Meredith: I think the main thing is that in that moment, we’re not comfortable with the other person’s emotionality. It’s sort of like “ Woah! What’s going on here?” If we were the trigger for that emotionality, we might feel a bit defensive like, “Well, they’re overreacting” or “They didn’t understand what I was saying.” So that’s one area and unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. That rarely to never works and I think it’s a bit self-protective also. If I explained this to them, they will understand what I meant and then this emotional period of time will be over and I won’t have to get upset or I won’t have to get angry. I could avoid that emotional.
Marina: Definitely! I think there is a big element of self-protection and logic because logic kind of lives outside of us. Logic, we like to think our logic is universal. People tend to think their logic is very universal. And so that lives outside of us whereas our feelings live inside of us. We have a lot more control over this “Universal Logic” than our feelings and defensiveness in a way is kind of faulty logic. It’s saying, “Well, that’s not me, that is you”. The logic is, “You are being crazy right now and misconstruing your own actions for mine.”
Meredith: Yeah. That argument doesn’t really work.
Marina: Yeah! Not too perfective. I haven’t seen a lot of good come out of that.
Meredith: No. Rarely. And it is triggering to see our partners being emotional because you care about them.
Marina: Yeah! And I think the feeling that it really touches on is helplessness and a lack of control and we feel we can’t help them in that moment and that is so dysregulating to us. And people have a really hard time naming that. They’ll just know, “This really sucks for me right now. So like a part of my defensiveness is rationalization. A part of my defense mechanisms is to go to logic”. And we think that because that’s how we protect ourselves, that’s how they’re gonna get out of that emotionality themselves. If we’re very nice and common logical and explain to them they’re being ridiculous, everything will be just fine but that’s just not helpless.
Meredith: No! And I think another goal here in being logical is just trying to move your partner out of that emotional place as soon as possible. It’s uncomfortable, we don’t like it. At the most, I don’t want to say selfish but that is almost what I was thinking but like the most honest, I think someone could be in that situation is “This is not what I had planned for my day. This is inconveniencing me”. I think that happens realistically, where you had an agenda or an expectation or it’s your day off and you were looking forward to X, Y Z, and now your partner’s angry or upset about something and it’s getting in your way and at the core of it and you’re trying to move out that place as soon as you can.
Marina: And there’s a bit of role ambiguity in that also which is like “What is my role in this? Is it to fix it? Is it to make them feel better? Or is it to solve the problem. Well, if I move them out of it, then I don’t have to also exist in this role ambiguity of not knowing what I’m supposed to do.”
Marina: Which again, comes back to our own trigger is not necessarily our partners. And because of that, logic makes sense to us. And if we can explain it, we’re good, we’re done. “You got your explanation, you got your clear A to B. You shouldn’t be angry anymore.”
Meredith: Right! And that’s rarely the case.
Meredith: Rarely the case. So, we wanna help you with that. It’s hard in those moments, right? If I’m the logical one and my partner’s the emotional one in that situation, it’s really hard. For the other person, they may feel dismissed, so they’re coming to you with emotion and upset and all these really deep feelings and you’re meeting them at a different plane. So they’re coming with this and you’re coming with this and it’s very hard to talk because you are not speaking the same language. So they feel dismissed, they feel misunderstood, they feel not cared about, they feel like you are guys are on different pages.
Marina: Yeah! Because what you’re really doing is instead of acknowledging the feelings which is what they’re trying to communicate to when someone’s emotional, what they’re doing is communicating feelings essentially. You’re just trying to placate them. You’re saying, “Nope! Let me squish that and tell you why you shouldn’t be feeling like that”. So it’s a really unattuned way of communicating. It’s like you’re speaking two different languages essentially because one person is saying, “Emotion! Emotion! Emotion!” and the other person is saying, “Well, I’m not comfortable with that so, logic, logic, logic”. And you’re just not meeting on the same plane.
Meredith: So there is no sense of emotional attunement, which is really important especially in a couple’s relationship, so for the emotional partner, they feel like “I’m hurting and I’m dealing with something”, right? “I’m sharing all these vulnerable feelings, I’m sharing my true experience and I feel completely shut down.” So, that’s not a good feeling and not going to be helpful in the future of your relationship.
Marina: And I think, something that comes up, and tell me if you’ve heard this in session and we’ve touched on this in previous episodes, where the logical partner frequently says, “Well, these emotions don’t make sense to me, they’re not logical”, right? When really, what they’re saying is, “I’m uncomfortable with the situation right now”. That’s such better language. But I feel like people are quick to jump to that and what they’re doing is you’re trying to understand something using, it’s like you are trying to understand somebody speaking Spanish using a Japanese translator. You’re not gonna go there. You cannot put logic to emotions and when you try, both of you fail. And that’s what really happens a lot of the time and that’s where couples get really stuck. So, what is the best way to respond?
Meredith: Well, it’s really important to be attuned to your partner’s experience and so this concept of “like dissolves like”. So if your partner’s coming at you with emotion, you need to respond with emotion. It doesn’t necessarily be the exact same feeling but you can be speaking logic when the other person’s speaking emotion. You can’t be speaking logic when the other person’s speaking emotion. So you wanna come to them with feeling words and acknowledging what they’re sharing with you and try to match that in some way.
Marina: Yeah and probably get some depth on that as opposed to get them out of that place.
Marina: Likewise, it’s respond to logic with logic. People love to get stuck in logic and not feel their feelings also. That’s the flip side of the coin here is when people get stuck in the rationalization and they’re on the other end of the spectrum. So to be able to get them to an emotional place and they’re stuck in logic, you can’t be like, “Well, tell me how you feel about that”, you know. You have to meet them where they’re at and start in a logical place and then soften it and then bring in the emotions because that’s also a lack of attunement if your partner’s kinda stuck in this logical place and you’re just, “Well, tell me about your feelings”.
Marina: They might not be ready to go there.
Meredith: Right. And that’s very dismissive as well.
Meredith: Basically, the best strategy is to go back to your basic communication skills. Go back to episode one. Communication Tip Sheet is the bonus there. That’s what you gotta use. And keeping in mind, matching where your partner’s at, so applying to those skills if your partner’s coming at you with emotionality, match that. Come at them with feeling and emotion. If your partner’s coming at you with logic, try to match that and come to them with logic. So using those skills, but keeping that in mind.
Marina: So, what’s a really good way to share logic? Obviously, logic is very important. But to share logic and bring in logic when your partner is in a really emotional place but you do need to bring some logic into there.
Meredith: The first step is you have to deal with the emotions. You have to deal with the emotions first because you’re not gonna get past them otherwise. So the strategy is listen, hear what your partner is saying, summarize what you’re hearing, “Okay, I’m hearing you say that you’re really upset because I was late coming home today and I didn’t give you a call first and that made you feel really not thought of and you were trying to have dinner ready and you’re just feeling really upset right now.” Right? Summarize and then validate. “I could understand why you feel upset. It makes sense to me that because you put in this extra effort today and I disregarded it that you feel upset. That makes sense, I get it.” Help them feel like you really have heard and understood their feelings. Ask them if they feel understood because we may think we hit in right on the head and “I got it, I got it, I got it. Let’s move on.”, but until you get the “OK” from your partner, you don’t know for sure.
Marina: Yeah. I feel like this is where people tend to grade themselves up.
Marina: You know, we usually tend to grade ourselves down, but this is where people are like, “I’m an A+ at this. I totally understand.” But it’s not about what you think you understand. It’s about your partner feeling understood and being actually understood. And so the really important piece here is to integrate, not to rationalize away, right? So, what does integration look like? “So, I heard you say that you’re really upset because I came home late and I know you put in all this extra effort. You wanted to have a really nice dinner and that is so extremely thoughtful and I’m really, really appreciative of that. I know it must feel really crappy that I didn’t call you and that I was this late because you had hoped for something else, and I can totally see how it kinda may feel intentional. I know I don’t have the best track record of always being home on time. It was really trafficky. I know I should’ve called. I left my charger at the office and the only explanation I can give is that it was not my intention to make you feel that way. I got caught in traffic, I left my charger at the office and I’m really appreciative for this.”
Meredith: So, what Marina did there was she summarized what I had said hypothetically, validated my feelings and what I share, and then sort of shared her perspective which was a bit of logic. “Here are the facts of what happened. Here’s what happened on my end. It was not my intention.” And it didn’t feel like, “Oh, she’s making excuses.” Because I know I hear that a lot in session when we do this type of exercise. “It didn’t feel that way because my emotions and my experience were understood first. So I knew that she really understood where I was coming from before she went into her experience which allows me to be more open to hearing that.
Marina: Yeah! Do you think it would have felt different if, let’s take the same content but put it in a different package, “It’s nice that you made dinner but you know my commute. I was stuck in traffic, it was a complete nightmare, I have ten million things going on at work so, sorry for being human and leaving my charger at work. You should just know that I was stuck in traffic. That’s the only logical explanation.”
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah, that would not have gone as well. You know how I feel. Everyone knows how I feel at this point about the word “But”, so Marina was like, “All of your feelings make sense.” No, they don’t. Strike that from the record. “Here’s all the reason why your feelings are stupid.” That’s how it kind of, you know, it’s like, “Obviously, here’s the logical explanation.”
Marina: Mhmm. And you’re way beyond accessing that right now. It’s almost like a contempt of, “Well, I’m up here with logic and you’re down here with feelings. You have some room for growth to get to that logical place.”
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! So you don’t wanna do it like the ladder example. You wanna do it like the first one we gave. Now, if we’re flipping it. So if I’m the emotional one in this situation and you’re the logical one, how do I introduce emotion to you?
Marina: This is a really common thing I see and I hate to gender issues but I definitely see this a lot more with guys.
Marina: They like to live in this world of logic that feels really good and comfortable and everything makes sense and there’s always like A to B causality and it’s hard to get them to an emotional place and sometimes, we just don’t have that emotional vocabulary. So to somebody like that who’s very good at logic to just say, “Tell me your feelings.” is like a flooding question.
Marina: Right? It’s a question that they don’t really know how to answer. So in terms of meeting logic with logic, it’s starting with those logical questions. So let’s say I’m the guy in that example. “I had a really hard day at work. I had a million things going on. I had deadlines, projects fall through. I feel like my team is strategically not doing what they need to do and I’m just trying to do my best in order to manage everything. I forgot my charger. Now, I’m in traffic trying to get home and all I want is to get home because I’ve had a really packed day.” So to say where you’re at emotionally is not gonna get a lot of conversation but starting with something like, “Well, tell me more about this interaction. Tell me more about this part of your day.” And then introducing some feelings into it is a much better way to do it than focusing on the feelings right away. And being able to kind of name the feelings. So say like, “I know you had that meeting. Tell me how that meeting went.” So they’re able to logic, logic, logic. “Okay, so it sounds like this is what happened. I wonder if you’re feeling frustrated by that.” So it’s a little bit of integration.
Marina: Just a little bit.
Meredith: Absolutely! As you’re saying that, I’m hearing myself in my head. I’ll be like, “Oh, that’s so frustrating!” I would even use the, it’s almost like a step even less intense emotions. You’re not even putting it on the other person. You’re just saying, “Oh, that’s so ‘this’, that’s so ‘that’.” The way you would feel but it’s normalizing the emotional part of the experience. So it’s sort of the reverse, right? Wherever the person who’s bringing the issue at hand, if they’re coming from emotion, you’re starting there and then moving to logic if that’s where you’re coming from. If they’re starting with logic, you’re meeting them there and then moving them a little bit towards emotion if that’s where you’re coming from. So it’s meeting your partner where they’re at and then trying to move gradually to where you’re at. So both sides are heard.
Marina: Yeah and a little hack that I use here. A little cheat that I use is instead of saying “How did you feel about that?” which is feeling words, is to say, “What did you think about that?”.
Marina: And a lot of times, logic has a little emotion intertwined in it and that’s a great moment to use to say what you just said, “Oh, that must have been so frustrating.” or “Oh, I’m frustrated for you.”, you know? Or to even name like, “That must have been really hard! What was that like?”.
Marina: But I think replacing the word feeling with thinking makes it a lot more mentally palatable.
Meredith: Yeah. That’s a great tip!
Marina: For people that live in a very logical place and have a hard time integrating that emotionality in.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s good! So how do we communicate in an effective way so our partner hears us? Sort of like a recap of everything we’ve discussed so far but keeping in mind, bringing logic in when the time is right. Don’t do it too early, don’t push your partner’s feelings aside and try to change the direction to logic. You have to wait ‘til the time is right.
Marina: Yeah and the thing is this is like a muscle. The more you do it, the better you become at it. And actually, what you become better at is sitting with someone’s emotions. Us as therapists, that’s what we do. We sit with people’s emotions. If we just rationalize them away, I don’t think we’d have any clients but we both got there because of practice.
Marina: And when you’re able to practice that in your relationship, it goes from this really unsafe, triggering situation to a situation that’s very emotionally attuned and comfortable and creates a lot of depth and room for emotionality in your relationship when you’re able to slow things down and actually explore that emotion before you bring in a rationalization which is what kind of creates a lot of emotional attunement.
Meredith: Absolutely! And then we kind of mentioned this before - meeting each other where you’re at, gotta meet logic with logic, gotta meet emotion with emotion, and going through those communication tips from episode one. Listen, summarize, validate. You have to go through that process until each partner feels heard and understood before you can move forward with your own agenda. You have to make sure your partner feels heard and understood first.
Marina: Yeah and what I wanna say about validation - validation doesn’t just come for emotions, it also works for logic. You can validate and experience. You can validate how somebody connects A to B and then you’re much better at sneaking in emotion when you’ve been able to validate them kind of in their own language.
Marina: So, I think it’s about learning what language your partner speaks best.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely!
Marina: So, we don’t want you to just listen.
Marina: We want you to listen and then we want you to integrate so that your relationship can really level up. And this is one of those things where doing this little simple thing, just meeting logic with logic, meeting emotion with emotion and then integrating is something that levels up your relationship. Such a major way. So we’ve put together a really, really awesome bonus for you and it’s so quick and it’s so easy. So it’s our “5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Assess What Your Partner Needs” and you can get it at www.simplygreatrelationships.com/023.
Meredith: I love this bonus because it’s so quick and it’s gonna give you that crisis in the moment - “Okay, which one is this? Is this emotion or logic?”. It’s just questions to get yourself in the right headspace and figure out how to triage the situation. So, I like it.
Marina: I also like it because it’s Michael Jordan’s number.
Meredith: Oh. How do you know that?
Marina: Michael Jordan, come on!
Meredith: A great Canadian.
Meredith: I’m just kidding. I know he’s from here. So what was your biggest takeaway today?
Marina: My biggest takeaway for today is probably that, I guess that it’s okay to have both. There’s room for both. It’s just about not squashing emotions and saying it has to be all logic and not squashing logic and saying it has to be all emotions. It’s about really meeting where you’re at and integrating and embracing both.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a good one! I think my takeaway is, I don’t know if I ever named it the way it was named today. I think I did it without realizing but meeting logic with logic and meeting emotion with emotion. Really, those are ways, I think they’re good as de-escalation, right?
Meredith: That’s how I think of it. Sort of like wherever that person is at, you gotta meet them where they’re at in their language to de-escalate because if you come at them with something totally different, it’s very unsettling and it actually has the opposite effect and it escalates people because they feel more out of control, less understood and it just doesn’t help. So I think keeping in mind, logic meet with logic, emotion meet with emotion and that’s really beneficial.
Marina: Yeah. It’s funny when you said de-escalate, I just thought of how effective it is when a mom tries to explain something with logic to a crying child.
Meredith: Yeah! It doesn’t work!
Marina: It doesn’t work but it’s really not that different in relationships.
Marina: So if you need a visual. If you’re one of those people, I know I am, that’s a really good visual to probably go to. Does it make sense to meet your crying child with logic? Is that gonna get them to stop crying?
Meredith: Right! And it’s not! Yeah, that’s a really good point! When you’re in a heightened state of emotion or logic, it’s not gonna help unless you feel met and understood and attuned to. So give these a try. That’s all we’ve got for you today. We hope you take these tips and start using them right away. Definitely get the bonus. We’d love to continue the conversation with you in our Facebook group where we’re hooking you up with tips, tricks and live streams just for our members. You can join our group at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships or click the link on our website www.simplygreatrelationships.com. We hope to see you there and how you’re integrating this into your relationship. That’s all for today. Until next week! We’ll see ya!
Marina and Meredith: Bye!