Congratulations! Your partner has acknowledged her room for improvement in the relationship and she has come up with her own solutions to resolve the problem.
Here’s what you need to do in order to make the deal work:
#1: Value Yourself
Start treating yourself as the prize. I talked about this in the last post. Unless you can value yourself and your needs, you will never be able to have the life that you want. By only valuing your partner, you are prone to insecurity, jealousy and anxiety and it will paralyze you from negotiating for your needs.
But when you begin to value yourself, your partner will also begin to value you. And when your partner begins to value you, he will be motivated to change.
Once you realize that you are a catch, and your self-esteem comes from within you and not from your partner, it will be unthinkable to stay in a miserable relationship.
#2: Learn to Value Your Partner
How do you help someone who actually wants to help himself?
- Live your own life. No matter what is going on in the relationship, go on with your day and make your own plans. Go out even if your partner doesn’t take initiative to hang out with you. Move on with your life if your partner does not change.
- Talk about the relationship on a weekly basis. Scary, I know. But you can’t solve anything unless you communicate with each other. Express your needs and feelings to your partner and encourage her to do the same. If one method of communication isn’t working, trying a different one. You might want to start here with my blog post on nonverbal communication skills.
- Don’t nag. Manage your anxiety. Don’t obsess or repeat the same things over and over again. Trust your partner when she says that she heard you. Otherwise, you may inadvertently cause her to disconnect from you.
- Accept your partner for who she is. Why are you attracted to your partner? What drew you to her? You need to like your partner for who she is rather than who you hoped she would be. Otherwise, the relationship won’t work.
- Try to understand his point of view.
- Show appreciation. Will you be satisfied when your partner changes? Let her know that you notice her efforts and are happy. Otherwise, you need to ask yourself if she is the right person for you.
- Invest in the relationship. Your relationship is like a bank account or an institution. You need to put the time in for it to grow. Make your partner a priority and do special things for her. Don’t assume she’ll appreciate a new iPad because you would. Ask her what she wants and engage in bonding experiences that she will enjoy.
But what happens when your partner agrees to change and you trust her but the problems are still there? How do you negotiate for your needs?
- Find new ways of communicating your needs and feelings to your partner that make sense to the both of you. Reiterate your position. Explain how her ideas about you might be distorted. Your partner needs to be able to understand what you’re saying and process new information. If your partner can’t then there’s nothing you can do.
- If your partner is controlling, try baby steps. Pick one area where he oversteps and set a boundary. He needs to show that he can manage his anxiety better. But if he keeps distorting your boundaries as attempts to control him, the relationship will not work.
- If you’re with someone who thinks he’s perfect and is unwilling to engage in discussions or possible disagreements, you need to think carefully about what staying in a relationship with this person will mean. Even if he can work on the relationship, he may be tempted to devalue you for the rest of your life.
If you do choose to stay, you need to call him out on his hurtful comments and let him know that you expect him to be able to empathize. Because this type of person is self-centered, the relationship can only work if your partner is able to support your goals that don’t have anything to do with him. If he can’t, your life will be over-compromised.
- If your partner likes to disappear on you and her behavior makes you feel like you are not a priority in her life, then she needs to face her fears of intimacy and risk spending quality time with you. By doing so, you will see steady progress in the relationship. But if everything else is more important and she can’t tell you that she really wants to be with you without coercion, then you need to leave this relationship that is depriving you of your needs.
- If you’re dating someone who is irresponsible and expects you to pick up the slack, you need to let him fall on his face, learn and grow. He needs to be held up to the same standard of every other adult. If he can take responsibility for fixing himself, that is an undertaking that you can support with a good conscience. But if you’re taking responsibility for his shortcomings, you are only enabling his bad behavior and you will never be happy.
How are you taking charge of your relationship’s direction? Do one nice thing for yourself this week that doesn’t involve your partner. Then, do one nice thing for your partner when she makes an effort to work on the relationship. Drop me a line and let me know how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org
Resource: Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall
This post is part five of my series on The Art of Relationship Deal Breakers. You can read the first post in the series here. To get the full series, watch for future posts on A Desi New Yorker.
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