When you feel like you’re with the wrong person…..
“He doesn’t ever listen to me!”
“How many times do I have to tell him this? Why is he so selfish?”
“Why can’t she just remember _________ (fill in the blank)?”
“Why does everything have to be her way?! She’s driving me freakin’ crazy!” etc, etc, etc….
Not happy with your partner? Trying to figure out if you can salvage this relationship, but you’re just not sure if he or she will EVER change?! Wondering how much more you can put up with this? How many more times you can have the same conversation over and over again?!
You’re not the only one, and…I got news for you: You’ve got to refocus and start looking at yourself. It takes two to tango and you are the ONLY one that you can control. Stop expecting him or her to change- it’s not going to happen! What are YOU doing? How are YOU behaving? Yup, that’s right- I am asking YOU these questions. This isn’t about the other person- this is ALL about you….you have to become the right person. If you want your relationship to be how you want it to be, if you want it to thrive, YOU have to be the right partner.
So much of your energy is going into the what the other person is doing wrong that you probably have no energy left to focus on who you want to be and how you want to behave.
How do you know if you’re “being the right person” in your relationship and what does that even mean? I’ve been asked several times by my clients and my friends. It’s been so long that I’ve been practicing and teaching this notion that it’s sometimes hard for me to wrap my head around the difficulty getting this. I say that because once you get it – you will have so much more control – over your relationships and your happiness…so, how exactly do you do this?
1. Be kind all of the time. Start acting in a loving, compassionate and kind way towards your partner ALL OF THE TIME (whether you feel like they deserve it or not- that is not what matters here). Follow THE GOLDEN RULE: treat others how you want to be treated (without question and without expectations). Because, you chose to be in this relationship. You chose to commit to this relationship. It is your responsibility to take care of and nurture the relationship ESPECIALLY if you want the relationship to thrive. Chances are (95%) that your partner will start to mirror your behavior.
2. Show interest & Listen with curiosity. Show interest in your partner- ya know, the way you used to when you first got together. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn and how grateful your partner will be that you care that much.
3. Be mindful and intentional about your tone of voice, your facial expressions and your body language. Over 80% of what we communicate is non-verbal so say what you mean and mean what you say.
At the end of the day, what truly matters is the quality of your relationship; and when you give 100%, when you do the best you can do, when you nurture it, it thrives and 95% of the time, you partner will lean in and give the same back to you. It took some time for me to get this principle so I could explain it. I first experienced it (although I didn’t know what to call it back then) when I began working as a social worker and I was seeing adolescents -my supervisor told to sit the same way they were sitting (ie, if they were slouching, I should slouch. If they had their legs crossed, I should do the same and so on and so forth). Essentially, when I mirrored them (part of this is specific to adolescents) and fully invested in connecting with them and gave them what they needed, we connected. I later experienced this in my relationship when my wife started applying it (giving 100% to the relationship with no expectations for how I would respond) and EVERYTHING shifted. We first learned about it from a couple’s therapist. It’s called the 100/0 Principle by Al Ritter. She started applying it without my knowledge and then, I CHANGED….I started applying it- I started investing differently than I had been and I didn’t know why…I didn’t even really know it was happening….I was also giving 100%- all of the sudden, we were both fully invested in our relationship in a new way and it was amazing….it’s part of the paradox of human behavior. When someone is kind, we are usually kind in return. When someone is warm, we are usually warm in return and so on and so forth.
I encourage you to try it out….even if you’re in the 5% of your partner not responding in kind…what’s the worst that can come of being gracious and kind? And, at best, you’ll see your relationship begin to transform right before your eyes and life will be so much more pleasant and incredibly easier.
I’d love to know what your experience is…give it a try. Do it consistently and let me know how it turns out for you.