by Gladys Diaz
Part 1 of this article, which talked about being his lover, not his teacher, seems to have resonated with a lot of women, based on the emails I’ve received and the comments on the blog! Apparently, many of us identify at least a little with feeling “an almost-divine responsibility” to teach men how they should speak, dress, and act! The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that this teacher-student/mother-son dynamic kills the intimacy in a relationship.
So, you may be wondering what you can say if he does something you don’t like or agree with. Do you just hold your thoughts and feelings in until they spew out of your mouth like lava from the mouth of a volcano? Do you pretend to agree, even if you don’t? Do you give up your rights to ever say what you think, want or feel?
Not sharing your feelings is not healthy, nor does it permit intimacy to grow in a relationship. Pretending to be someone you’re not is in authentic. After all, he can’t fall in love with you, if you are not there. And you have a right to think and feel the way you do.
The catch? So does he!
See, the fact that you both don’t agree on how every single thing can be said or done does not make either one of you right or wrong. You’re just different. This is why it’s important to remember what I often tell my kids:
Not everything that pops into your head necessarily needs to pop out of your mouth.
Judgments, complaints and criticisms are not your opinions because they’re not about you. No matter how nicely you phrase a complaint or criticism, it still sends the message: “You’re wrong.”
So, instead of telling him what he should or shouldn’t be doing, which has all of your attention going over there, to where he is, turn the mirror around and focus your attention on yourself.
For example, imagine that the guy you are seeing says he’s going to call, and he doesn’t. While you may want to tell him something like “You shouldn’t say you’re going to call if you’re not, because that’s rude and inconsiderate” – which is not at all about your feelings, but what you think he did wrong – you could focus on how you’re actually feeling and say, “I was disappointed I didn’t get to talk to you” or “I was looking forward to your call.”
Notice how these statements focus on how you’re feeling, not on what he did or didn’t do.
Or perhaps you’re going on a first date and the guy says he wants you to drive up to where he lives to meet him, or to meet him at a halfway mark. If you would be picked up, or meet closer to your home, that’s what you would say: “I’d rather not drive that far,” or “I prefer to be picked up.”
Neither of these statements is teaching him or telling him what to do. You are simply stating your preferences and then he gets to choose what to do with that information – to either fulfill your desire, or not.
If your husband or boyfriend has been eating fast food three days in a row because he’s been working long hours, instead of telling him, “You should take a healthy lunch so that you’re not eating all of that grease and wasting all of that money,” there are several things you could do.
You could acknowledge that he’s a grown man who probably already knows that fast food is not the healthiest food choice and trust him to make what he feels are the best decisions for himself.
You could also choose to focus on the times he does make a healthy choice and point that out, instead. In this case, you could say, “It was a great idea to cook extra fish so that you have something healthy to take for lunch tomorrow.” This way, instead of focusing on what you don’t agree with or approve of, you’re choosing to focus on what you’d like to see happen more often!
The point is that people don’t like to be told what the should do or what they’re doing wrong, and they rarely choose to change out of being badgered, criticized, or made to feel badly.
Assuming that you are dating or in a relationship with an adult, you can trust that he knows how to take care of himself. After all, he managed to survive several decades before meeting you, right?
Respecting his choices and ideas as his choices and ideas – without trying to fix or change him or them – doesn’t mean you agree with them. It simply means you respect them. And respect is a key ingredient in any relationship.
So, the next time you have the urge to teach, correct, criticize, or give your unsolicited advice or opinion, ask yourself whether you want to be the one who teaches him what he should do or the one who gets to love and accept and be loved and accepted by him. Then remind yourself that there’s probably no better way to let him know you love him than letting him know that you trust and respect him and his choices!
Questions? Comments? Let us know below! We love hearing from you!
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