The man you dated—that fun, generous, open-hearted guy who stole your heart—is gone.
In his place is a grumpy guy who’s selfish and short-tempered.
What happened to the man you fell in love with?
Did he get a personality transplant, or maybe a strong knock to the head?
You want your sweet guy back!
What can you do?
Dating vs. Relationships
Dating someone is not the same as being in a relationship with them.
When a man is dating a woman, he’s on his best behavior. He presents himself the way he wants to be seen.
Everything is new and exciting. He opens up to you. He wants to know everything about you.
You get into a relationship.
And all his old programming kicks in.
The man he is in relationship is not the man he is on a date.
He’s used to treating his girlfriends a certain way, and now you are one of his girlfriends.
How Did He Learn to Treat Women This Way?
Even the most wonderful men have toxic relationship programs running in the background.
We were all influenced by the relationships we saw growing up. We couldn’t help it.
Our parents’ relationship taught us what a “normal” relationship was like.
As a result, we picked up bad habits.
Even if we vowed to be nothing like our parents, those bad habits kick in when we’re under stress.
We say the things we saw our dad or our mom say.
We may hate ourselves for it, but we can’t help it.
Those habits are stuck in our subconscious, where they’ll stay unless we do something about it.
Here’s What Bravery Looks Like
An example of a man brave enough to face his bad habits is the one-and-only Prince Harry.
In his memoir Spare, he tells a story about a time when his family programming almost cost him the woman he loved.
He was feeling irritable one evening, and he took it out on his then-girlfriend Meghan Markle.
He spoke harshly to her. In the silence that followed, he realized the gravity of what he’d just done.
Meghan disappeared to her room.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry followed.
She told him in no uncertain terms that if they were to have a life together, she wouldn’t tolerate being spoken to like that. It isn’t good to bring children into a world where the parents speak disrespectfully to one another. Harry agreed.
She asked him if he’d ever seen adults speak to each other in that way.
He said yes.
Not Every Guy Can Be Prince Harry
Prince Harry had the courage to face the possibility that his programming—what he thought was normal behavior for a man and woman—was in fact hurtful.
Not all men are ready to go there.
They’re not ready for many reasons.
Admitting that you might have learned toxic behavior patterns from your family feels like criticism. Many men don’t want to say a bad word about their parents. They’re loyal to their family. They don’t want to look too hard at the past.
Unfortunately, refusing to look at their family patterns means that they will repeat them in their own relationships.
They’ll pass these patterns down to their children. And on it will go, from generation to generation, until one person stops and says, “No more.”
Family pathology rolls from generation to generation like a fire in the woods, taking down everything in its path, until one person in one generation has the courage to turn and face the flames. That person brings peace to his ancestors and spares the children that follow.”
Dr. Terry Real
No one is to blame for what they were taught as children.
But we are all responsible for what we do in relationships today.
Be brave. You don’t have to write a book about your family like Prince Harry (in fact, I’d recommend you NOT), but do investigate what unconscious family patterns you’re playing out in your relationship.
If you need to talk to your guy, take a tip from Meghan. Be kind when setting your boundaries. Paint a picture of the relationship you’d like to have with him. Ask him if, as a kid, he ever saw adults treat each other that way.
It can be such a relief when you realize that your bad behaviors came from somewhere… and you have the power to leave them in the past.