People say the strangest things sometimes.
Things like this.
ME: How’s it been going with your partner?
HIM: It’s been okay, but last night ...
ME: What happened?
HIM: I told her she looked pretty good, especially for her age.
ME: How’d she respond?
HIM:Kinda in a bad mood or something.
ME: During dinner?
HIM: Yes. And when we got home she didn’t come to bed. She stayed downstairs watching Season 5 of Handmaid’s Tale on her iPad.
HIM: I don’t get it. I gave her a compliment. She looks great for someone so old.
ME: We need to talk.
Giving someone a compliment while gently insulting them won’t help your relationship.
This is just one of three very common communication snafus people make that really hurt their relationships.
On Tuesday, I talked on my Facebook Live about these problems. In case you missed it, or want to listen again, here’s the link . Or, catch the 3 simple tips below with timestamps to the recording.
0:48 Tip #1 Give compliments without conditions.
For many people, words of affirmation are very important. We’re often not aware of the impact that our words have on our partner. Most of us have some feeling of insecurity. Your partner likely has it too. Insecurity means that no matter how glowing some of your words are, your partner is likely to hear nothing but the critical ones.
A lot like how you might feel after doing a talk in front of the Friday Noon Rotary. You finish your up and collect the evaluations. They’re great - but one old man shredded you in his almost illegible handwriting.
What are you likely to remember? If you’re like most people, you’ll focus on the bad one. All the compliments fade away as you try to read his handwriting over and over.
So, when your exhausted partner puts on lipstick even though she’s been up all night with the baby, don’t say “You look beautiful for someone who’s just had a baby.” Instead, try “You’re beautiful.” Just that.
2:01 Tip #2 Ask for what you want instead of making demands.
Lots of my clients are very direct with their partners.. They say things like “I need you to ________ me or I will lose my mind.”
I understand this. It’s very reasonable to feel incredibly uncomfortable (even desperate) when your partner ignores your feelings about physical touch and intimacy. But, when you demand connection, your partner isn’t likely to respond well.
So, instead of saying “I need you to _____________ me,” say “I want you to __________ with me.” Think of something that’ll be pleasurable and attractive to you (AND your partner) and say something about that.
The difference is subtle but important. When you make a demand about something you want your partner to do, your partner will likely feel used. Even though it makes sense to you, to your partner it’s negative and demanding.
Feeling used doesn’t feel good. And it’s human nature to pull away when that’s going on. Instead, tell them you want to connect with them. Say “I want to connect, I want to be intimate.” It’ll work much better.
3:31 Tip #3 Make a request to work together instead of threatening (with a caveat).
When things aren’t working out the way you’d like, threatening can feel like the right idea. Unfortunately, threatening is likely to create a power struggle that’ll leave you both feeling misunderstood and upset. This makes sense. You want things to change. You want your partner to make things better.
But, the best negotiators know that you’re more likely to get to “YES” when both of you are working toward the same goal. And your partner will be more open to your “YES” if you’re asking to work together instead of making a power move.
So, instead of saying “If you don’t ________________, I will _________________”, say “I want to work this out with you. What can we do to make it better for both of us.”
PS: An important caveat: if you’re in a dangerous domestic situation, don’t threaten, don’t negotiate. Get out. Just simply get out as soon as you possibly can. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help. Here’s the number: 800-799-7233. You got this.
PPS: Want to talk about it all with your partner but you don’t know what to say (or how to say it)? If so, The Intimacy Workshop is designed just for you! Get this $49 online mini course and learn great communication skills so that you can start making things better right away. Here’s the link: https://www.howtofixmysexlife.com/workshop.html