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October 10, 2012

Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?

IStock_0caretaking womanllI hear from women all the time about how badly they want to have a good romantic relationship.  They want to feel close to their partner, do fun things together and have interesting conversations and feel emotionally supported by their partner.  Most women tell me the reason they don’t have these things is because…well, it’s because of their partner.  They say their partner won’t talk, doesn’t like to share, hates it when she gets emotional and would rather be at work or left alone then to actually sit and hang out with her. 

Not surprisingly, this is only half the story. 

The other half of the story is what the women are doing that is getting in the way of them getting what they want.  Below are several ways women sabotage the connection in their romantic relationships. 
Too many women often:
1.    Start relationships under false pretenses.  Women often think that the way to “get” a man is to be everything they think the men want them to be.  This is crazy thinking since at some point the women will either have to stop the façade and be themselves or eventually lose themselves.  When you start off a relationship pretending to be something you’re not, you’ve already sabotaged your relationship. You can’t have emotional intimacy when you’re faking who you are.
2.    Use a wall of words.  Most women have a strong desire to want to be heard and struggle when those round them don’t listen.  In an effort to be heard, therefore, some women excessively talk.  As the women talk more, the men tune them out and when the men tune them out, the women increase their talking.  The women think that if they just said it the right way the men would listen.  The excessive talking has the opposite effect of what the women want and in effect puts a wall of words between them and their partners.
3.    See too many things through a critical lens.  I see countless women in my practice constantly tweaking those around them.  Women do this in an effort to get things to be better, however, the constant criticism does anything but get things better.  In the quest for perfection, women end up sabotaging the good things they do have.  How a dishwasher is loaded does not really matter in the grand scheme of things.  If women continue to tell the men in their lives how to cook, how to clean, how to dress, how to talk and how to be, they will lose the men.  No one wants to constantly be told how to do things better.  A critical lens is about you not the other person.  Get over your need for perfection and instead deal with your internal anxiety.

4.    Shut down conversations.  Women want to feel connected and having meaningful conversations is one way to reach this goal.  What I see though, is that when the men do talk, the women shut them down.  The men may say they feel nervous and the women say,”That’s crazy, you don’t feel nervous. You’re just saying that.  Why don’t you tell me what you really feel?!”  As much as women say they want honest conversations, they often act like want to dictate what the men say.  If men aren’t free to have different thoughts and opinions about topics then the conversations can’t be intimate—they’re false.  Women have to stop judging what the men are saying and instead listen to what they’re saying.  You don’t have to agree; you do have to stop shutting them down.
5.    Get resentful for not getting what they don’t ask for.  A lot of women come into my office and complain about things their partners are doing or not doing.  When I ask them if they’ve asked for what they want, the answer is often, ”I shouldn’t have to ask.  He should know.”  The rule is you don’t have the right to be resentful about not getting something you never asked for.  If you don’t ask, then don’t complain when you don’t get it. No one is a mind reader.

The bottom line when it comes to relationships is:  be authentic, moderate and forthright.  If you’re not happy in a relationship, check to see if you’re sabotaging yourself.  Be pleasant not critical, real not fake and ask for accountability not perfection.

Challenge: Look at the behaviors above and see if any pertain to you.  Choose the one you do the most often and work to remove that from your relationships. Notice the results.

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This can go either way. My boyfriend of 5 years does what this column is stating women do.

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