“If he really loved me, he would _______________.” This is what we say when we are caught up in our thinking. Yes, we are in pain and yes, we are feeling sad, angry, rejected, unimportant, etc… In our mind, it’s clear that our partner’s behavior is the cause of our discomfort. But, this is faulty thinking because we put ourselves in a powerless position when we believe someone else must change before our discomfort will go away.
When you are convinced that someone else must change their behavior in order for you to feel happy, secure, loved, or important, you put your well-being in the other person’s hands. You give all control away and you put yourself in the role of the victim. You are stuck, waiting for the other person to do something.
What if they don’t do anything? Or, what if they finally do what you wanted them to do? Are you going to be happy then? Or, are you going to feel that they just did whatever it was because you told them that’s what you wanted?
Expecting someone else to change so you can feel better, creates a trap that Houdini couldn’t escape. It’s a self-defeating and ineffective way to resolve your hurt or angry feelings because you give all your power away to someone else. This leaves you feeling helpless, victimized and resentful. Even if they do what you wanted them to do, you will wonder if they did it to keep the peace or out of love.
To deal with your feelings in an effective way, you must look inside yourself. That is where relief from the pain can be found. By looking inward, you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and opening the door to viable solutions. As a starting point, ask yourself these questions.
Do you jump to conclusions without taking the time to find out if you are accurate? Don’t we all do this? The problem is, when we make assumptions, we are likely to react in ways that could permanently damage our relationships. It’s easy to concoct ideas in our head that explain why someone did or didn’t do something. Before you react, do a reality check and ask yourself if your thoughts about the situation are 100% true. In most cases, you are only guessing. You don’t really know if your conclusions are true, partially true or completely false. Get more details before you do or say something you’ll later regret. Stop trying to control and analyze situations and instead, let them unfold naturally. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Are your expectations realistic? No one is perfect, not even you. If you have a picture in your mind of what your partner would be doing if he truly loved you, then you are setting yourself up for a let down and your relationship up to fail. Be careful that you are not focused so intently on where he is lacking in the “hearts and flowers” department, that you overlook all the other ways he shows you he loves you. Try keeping a gratitude journal for a month to help you become more aware of the ways your spouse is there for you.
How secure do you feel about yourself?
People who feel insecure about themselves, look to others for validation and they are almost always disappointed. No one will ever be able to do enough to make an insecure person feel special or valued all the time. We all experience moments of insecurity, but if your self-worth is strongly tied to what others do or say, or if you notice you have a pattern of relationships that ended because you didn’t get enough attention, there may be deeper issues. I used to feel very insecure. Working with a compassionate and knowledgeable therapist helped me learn to value myself. Consequently, I became less dependent on others for my feelings of self worth. Now, I value my own opinion about myself far more than I value the opinions of others. When we feel good about ourselves, what others think, say or do is less likely to send us into a tailspin.
Before you put yourself in the victim role, and blame someone else for your feelings, take a step back and attempt to look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself the three questions outlined above. It might help for you to make an effort to understand the other person’s viewpoint. One way to do this is in a non-adversarial tone, ask them what they meant by what they said or did. You may discover that poor communication skills and/or unrealistic expectations are at the root of your relationship issues, not the absence of love.