It’s a fascinating thing.
We seem to have this deep desire to be seen as strong, empowered, smart “action” takers and will do all kinds of things to present that image to others. It’s also important for us to view ourselves as “capable”, “competent” and “creative thinkers.”
In the world of dating, relating and mating one of the most attractive attributes both men and women mention is “confidence”, including both self-confidence and a confidence that centers around a “can-do” attitude about life.
So what is happening when couples who have been dating for awhile or have moved on to a committed relationship begin complaining, “Why do I have to be the one?!” Where did the mindset go that allowed that person to see themselves as completely responsible for their part in the union?
Just this week, I heard:
- Why do I have to be the one to initiate this relationship work with a Coach? If he’s not going to engage with this, I’m not taking it on!
- Don’t I have to wait until my partner show’s signs that he’s honestly going to start taking responsibility for his part in the breakdown before I waste time working on this?
- Why would I work on making myself a better spouse if she is emotionally checked out?
- Is it really worth me doing all the work of learning to date in a conscious, healthy way if I’m just going to meet people who aren’t doing the same work?
The short answer?
Because the only thing you have control over is YOU.
And you, committing to being the best “you” that you can be, who is fully in integrity and living in alignment with your values is going to bring you deep satisfaction and meaning in your life.
It also is the only way to have a shot at true intimacy in a love relationship. Why? Because nothing kills intimacy faster than moving from a loving, emotional connection into a power struggle, where the focus shifts to regular blame, criticism and trying to be “right.”
I tell my clients on a weekly basis some version of this:
“I don’t care what anyone else is doing right now. I care how you are showing up. That’s our work together. Tonight, when you’re brushing your teeth, I want you to look in the mirror and be able to say to yourself, “Nice job. I like who you were today.”
And mean it.
If you’ve found yourself muttering the “Why me?” and are ready to get back to a place of strength and positive forward movement, there are two places to immediately begin:
- Commit to taking 100% responsibility for yourself in every single area of your life, including your intimate relationship
- Agree to do everything it takes to bring yourself fully into alignment with the woman/man you want to be in this world, while keeping your focus ONLY on you
Nothing is more empowering than moving out of any kind of “victim” mindset you may have fallen into, taking your life by the hand and embracing all the responsibilities that go along with creating an amazing life. From this place, thoughts easily move from “Why do I have to be the one to do this work?” to “I love that I have the ability to take a stand for the kind of relationship/life/etc that I want and will show up as the highest and best version of myself every single day, no matter what.”
What do you do if your partner is not onboard and continues to react negatively as you attempt to change an unhealthy dynamic?
You focus on you, show up with integrity and don’t engage in anything dysfunctional.
What if you show up with kindness, are vulnerable and own your part in the breakdown, only to have it met with more blame and criticism?
You stay the course, because this is about how YOU are now committed to showing up, not what another is doing.
What if you hear something like “I don’t know what you’re doing, but don’t think it’s going to change my mind about ______.”
Guess what? You’ve got their attention and an acknowledgement that you are indeed, making powerful change that’s being noticed!
To have true intimacy and a beautiful loving relationship, ultimately both partners need to get onboard with these two commitments. But the work almost always begins with one person who leads the way to greater possibilities. It never ceases to amaze me, after 20 years of “love and intimacy” work, the positive “influence” that one partner can have on the whole relationship! In my experience, the reason things don’t change as quickly as they could is because the person leading the way gets discouraged and falls back into crossing their arms and saying “I won’t keep changing if you don’t begin, too.”
Do you really want to be someone who decides that another gets to dictate whether you’ll be a person who shows up as their absolute best self in life?
Here’s to moving from negative “reactivity” to intentional, responsible “responding” and the amazing doors that this power move can make in your life!
I’d love to hear what’s gotten you to make this move in your own life or where you’re getting stuck!