Albert Ellis, who developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, reiterates this concept of perception and opinions and explains that "how" people react to events is determined largely by their "view" of the events, not the events themselves.
Why is this important when it comes to relationships? Well, all those external acts and feelings that take place or should take place in a relationship at the core depend on our perceptions of and beliefs about the person and relationships in general.
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey talks about an emotional bank account. Like a financial bank account, we make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
But if the emotional bank account is overdrawn, the trust level gets very low, flexibility dissipates, and I must be very careful about everything I say. Comments like, "but you did the same thing last week" are another way of saying, "you’re overdrawn." Eventually, neither person is performing those external acts that are so cherished in the beginning of a relationship. The bank account is simply overdrawn. The relationship may further deteriorate to one of hostility and defensiveness. Eventually it can lead to a closing of the account—a breakup or divorce.
Our most constant relationships require our most consistent deposits. Unlike high school friends with whom you can pick up right where you left off, the people you interact with on a regular basis require more regular investment. Otherwise there will likely be automatic withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you.
Covey speaks about major emotional deposits we can make to avoid the depletion of those reserves that keep us giving and receiving the external proofs of the intimacy we all crave. Here are four that stand out to me and how perception plays a crucial role in each one of them: