Oftentimes in our loving relationships, we sense – we feel – an imbalance in our levels of affection, commitment, and devotion with our partners. Usually, this hurts.
Because underneath it all, we feel not just the lack of connection, but we internalize the negative explanations that we believe MUST be true:
“He doesn’t love me.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I can’t trust him.”
“She will leave me.”
More often than not, our response to this stems from desperation. We are desperate to hold on to our love, our relationship, security and sense of self-worth. When this happens, like a cornered animal, we lash-out, and begin to make demands of our partner to love us more, the way we want, the way we need.
Rarely does this work. And oftentimes, it has the opposite effect.
“Dovid, thank you for taking my call. I need help communicating with my boyfriend. Because english is my second language, and we mainly text each other, and are fighting a lot.”
“Really? Why is that?”
“Because when I text him, he may not text back right away. Or just responds with such short sentences. I get upset at him and we fight.”
“Ok, what’s it like when you two are actually together?”
“It’s fine, but when he asks me to hang out, he doesn’t make it special the way I like. So we fight. We have bad communication.”
“Do you believe that your boyfriend loves you?”
“Yes, I know he does.”
“I don’t believe you have a communication problem, ma’am – your messages are getting through, 100%”
What she didn’t realize (actually she did), is that she was punishing her man for not loving her the way she wanted. While he is making overtures towards her, she is pushing him away with messages of “You’re not good enough. You can’t make me happy. Something’s wrong with you.”
When I pointed this out to her, she admitted that this is exactly what was going on in the relationship.
Underneath it all, she was afraid to lose him and the relationship.
And her fear was chopping down the very tree she was trying so desperately to grow.
So how do we turn this dynamic around? How can she stop from sabotaging her love, while at the same time getting her needs met? My advice to her was simple, yet not easy.
Step #1: Eliminate Negativity
Perhaps the most important task in repairing any relationship is to remove negativity. This may sound like a fantasy, but not only can it be done, it must be done. While you will never be perfect, making the effort is what counts.
Negativity can look like many things, but let’s start with this most straightforward expression – speech.
As long as we are berating our partners – making them feel “less-than”- for the way they show their love, we are not building our relationship. We are tearing it down.
It’s hard not expressing our disappointments, our true feelings, bearing our soul. And for your own mental health and well-being, you should. But not to your partner. Find a trust friend, a mentor, a parent, and share everything. But don’t emotionally “dump” on your loved one. This will just distance you two.
This brings us to the next step.
Step #2: Express Gratitude
Instead, cultivate an eye for gratitude. Examine and seek out the ways that your partner does love. Praise them heavily for this. Let them know how much their efforts mean to you. Not only does this send the message that you see them, appreciate them, and recognize their contribution, it also sends that same message to YOU.
And proving to yourself, over and over, that you are indeed loved, and that your partner cares deeply for you, helps you overcome your attachment issues which are poisoning your ability to be in love.
“Being around you makes me so happy.”
“I feel so special with you in my life.”
“I can’t wait to spend time with you!”
“Your love gives me strength.”
Step #3: Positive Reinforcement
None of this is meant to hinder any positive efforts you want to make taking your relationship to the next level. Quite the opposite – this sets the groundwork. Because the best way to encourage more love is through kindness and reinforcement:
“I love when you call me, thank you.”
“It means so much to me that you thought of me today – you are the best!”
“I just want to say thank you for breakfast.”
“Everyday, I smile when you reach out.”
This only encourages more, beautiful connection and love. And does so with no negativity.
Your relationship will end up being the most important factor in your entire life. We are wired to connect, love each other, and be loved. And yet, in our desperation, we often sabotage our most prized possession. But when we rid our love-life of wasted negativity and instead fill it with positivity, we are sending a message that we are open, worthy and can give & receive true love.
This is something YOU can do!
If you need help, you can contact me here. Working together, we can get you off to a wonderful start, and establish a foundation on which your love can grow.