You know that thing you really hate about your guy?
That thing you don’t know if you can live with?
You’ve tried to get him to change.
More times than you can count.
But. He. Just. Won’t. DO. It!
I’ve got a counterintuitive suggestion for you.
It may not work for your guy’s particular fault…
But it will give you food for thought.
You Picked This Guy on Purpose
One of the miracles about relationships is the way we’re perfectly matched.
We have a knack at picking the EXACT person who will bring out the worst in us. 😉
That’s why your girlfriend always ends up with jerks…
And you always end up with guys who remind you of your exes.
There’s a scientific reason for it.
Imago therapy, developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, says that we unconsciously gravitate towards partners that will help us heal our childhood wounds.
To do that, these partners hurt us in exactly the same way we were hurt as children.
But don’t despair.
The good news is we’re not children anymore. We have an opportunity to respond in a different way.
Instead of hurling blame at our partners, we can choose to heal.
Every time you blame your guy for all the ways he hurts you, intentionally or not, you’re staying stuck in old patterns.
You’re basically ensuring it will keep happening, over and over again.
So make a different choice.
Choose to figure out what’s going on. Why is his behavior hurting you so much? What’s at the root of it? Where did it come from?
Then decide to react differently. The next time this happens, you’re going to say something. You’re not going to get mad. You’re going to get vulnerable.
I’ll tell you how in just a minute.
Why He’s So Great at Pushing Your Buttons
Unfortunately, most of us don’t wake up to what’s going on.
We just keep getting hurt.
Hurt by guys who have a knack for targeting our sore spots—spots rubbed raw by the turmoil of growing up in an imperfect world.
Maybe you’re with guys who always make you self-conscious about the way you look. Guys who make you feel you can’t cope. Guys who shame you for not being cool enough.
You may assume those guys are just jerks—and maybe they are—but their behavior would just wash straight over you UNLESS you had a corresponding vulnerability.
Let me say that again:
For every behavior your man does that hurts you, you have a corresponding weak spot.
That’s what makes you perfectly matched.
I’ll give you an example from my own experience.
The Man Who Can’t Take Criticism
I often end up in relationships with men who can’t take any constructive feedback.
In other words, they can’t handle criticism. Not from me. Not from anyone.
So the moment I try to talk about things I’m struggling with in the relationship and offer strategies for moving forward, they get mad. They cut me off. They give me the silent treatment. They punish me for daring to say a word against them.
I thought it was me. I studied techniques to give feedback in the most positive, helpful way possible. But none of them worked.
It took me years to realize I was ending up in relationships with men who couldn’t take criticism for a REASON.
I had an issue with criticism, too. The opposite problem.
I took EVERYTHING on board. I thought everything was my fault. Every comment he made, I looked for ways I could do better. If something didn’t work, I took full responsibility for it, even if it had nothing to do with me.
As a result, I never gave a man feedback until an issue had grown too hot to handle.
So of course I attracted men who hated criticism! I was the perfect partner. I never asked them to level up. I did all the work. I bent over backwards so they wouldn’t have to change.
If I’d had a healthy relationship with criticism, then I’d have started my relationships off on a healthy footing.
I’d have told my partners when something wasn’t working. I wouldn’t have let them get used to being the perfect partner who could do no wrong … then sprung a major issue on them.
That was a very important lesson for me.
It wasn’t that these men were jerks.
It was that I needed to change my behavior.
I needed to get comfortable saying when things weren’t working, rather than letting them build up to an unbearable point.
And if I did that from the very beginning of a relationship, then my partners would know straight-up what I expected from them.
(And, if they really WERE the type who couldn’t take criticism, they’d end it and save me the hassle.)
Your Relationship Rehab Plan
So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do.
You know the thing that REALLY annoys you about your guy?
I want you to probe it.
Why does it annoy you?
Why does it cause such intense feelings of distress inside?
Put aside for a moment any thoughts of him and his personal failings. This is about YOU.
His behavior wouldn’t hurt you so much unless you had a tender point associated with it.
And that tender point often goes all the way back to childhood.
It can take some time to get to the root of painful patterns, so don’t rush this step. You may wish to work on it with a trusted friend or counselor.
Then ask yourself:
“How could I respond differently when he does it next time?”
Because what you’re doing right now isn’t working. He just keeps doing it. You just keep feeling more pain.
What’s a novel, even counterintuitive way you could respond to his behavior?
Maybe you’ll choose to sit down with him and talk about what you’ve learned about yourself. If he’s open, he may be shocked to hear how deeply you feel about something he thinks isn’t a very big deal.
Maybe you’ll choose to set clearer boundaries, with clear consequences if he doesn’t comply.
Maybe you’ll choose to walk away when he does it. Refuse to be a willing participant in the drama.
What’s important is that you’re doing something different than you’ve EVER done before.
You’re not letting those old patterns play out. You’re disrupting them.
Choosing a new response to a familiar situation gives you power. Power over your past, power over your patterns, and power to shape a better future.
It takes two to tango. If you don’t like the dance, step away and change the music.