Yesterday my boyfriend told me he wanted to see his poker buddies on Friday night. But that’s OUR night. We only see each other on the weekends because he works out of town during the week. It wouldn’t be a big deal, except he’s going out of town for a few weeks and I’m disappointed because I thought he would want to spend time with me before he leaves. But instead he’s choosing his friends?!? Should I be worried??? I’m afraid to say anything, but it feels like he has all the power in the relationship and I’m just supposed to smile and accept whatever he wants.”
Kathryn, I can hear that you’re feeling neglected and you’re afraid that if you say something, you’ll risk losing him.
This is either a passing feeling of disappointment that you can easily move past when he does something right or something to make you happy again, OR it could be a real sticking point for you that may be creating a pattern of underlying resentment.
Why Complaining Won’t Fix It
With men like this who are committed to the extent of exclusivity, but aren’t quite ready to put a ring on it, you being unhappy with him won't make him snap into shape and make him give you what you want more of (i.e. more time, attention, affection, connection).
Expressing disappointment by complaining to him that you're not getting your needs met could push him away. What’s even worse is that he could even pull away SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY because he genuinely cares about you and doesn’t want to hurt you.
If complaining won’t get you what you want, then what’s a girl to do?
Should you tolerate it hoping one day he’ll finally realize that he’s madly in love with you?
I can tell you that one of two things will probably happen:
1) You’ll end up on the 5 or 10 year plan and one day he’ll finally propose.
2) You’ll end up on the 5 or 10 year plan and one day you’ll realize he’s never going to propose.
If you’re tolerating his behavior because you haven’t found a way to express your frustration in a way that won’t push him away, then chances are your authenticity isn’t shining through in a way that makes him feel attracted to you.
Men can actually sense when we’re being inauthentic – like, when we’re hiding our disappointment and frustration.
What you DON’T want to do is get into the habit of stuffing your feelings down and pretending everything is OK when what’s going on inside is that you feel like you’re about to explode.
When We Stuff Our Feelings Down
What happens when we do this is we button up our heart and he can’t connect.
On the outside we’re calm and cool, maybe a little aloof even. But inside, our energy is shooting out of our pores like lightning bolts and porcupine quills. He can’t feel it on a physical level, but he can sense it on a subconscious level. And if he’s even the slightest bit perceptive, he knows when something’s wrong.
So he might ask ”what’s wrong?” To which you say, “nothing” and smile.
If you lie and say nothing’s wrong when he can feel that something is, he may not hold it against you, but he could find it to mean you are fearful, mistrusting, insecure…and that is the opposite of the self-assured confidence he’s hoping to find in a woman. It doesn’t mean he’ll walk away. But if you REALLY want him to connect with you, the way to do that is through your AUTHENTICITY.
This doesn’t mean you’re supposed to go off on him in a fit of honest rage every time he pisses you off. In fact, I would recommend that you don’t make a habit of doing that.
Speaking Your Truth
The best way to navigate moments like this is to communicate in a way that he can hear you. Don't make him wrong or he'll likely get defensive or it could feel to him like you're trying to control him. It will feel like an attack on his personal freedom and he will likely resist.
Start by getting clear on what you are feeling and what you want to say. I recommend writing it all out first. Say everything you want to say on that piece of paper.
Then go back over it and take out anything that sounds accusatory or makes him wrong.
(If you just discovered he was cheating on you, well that's a situation that should be handled in a different way. Please free to reach out to me for help with navigating something like that.)
It's OK to tell him you were feeling angry. You SHOULD own your feelings. But the key is to do so without making him responsible. He always has a choice, as do you as well. Sometimes the answer will be the one you want to hear, sometimes not.
It's going to be important for him to feel a sense of freedom in being with you, just as you need to feel that you have full range of freedom and trust with him also. Mutual trust and understanding are vital ingredients to any healthy relationship dynamic. And honest communication is the key to building that deeper and lasting connection.
Love & light,