How to handle early relationship conflict
By Rori Raye, author of best-selling eBook Have The Relationship You Want and free newsletter
Maybe he suddenly pulls away after being affectionate with you. Or he’s consistently late and it’s continuously getting on your nerves. Or maybe he forgot to call – more than once. Whatever your new guy did, how do you handle it without losing the fun, carefree feeling you’ve both been enjoying since you met? Do you call him out for being inconsiderate, or do you hold everything in so you don’t rock the boat? Of course, it’s neither. Here’s why, and what to do instead.
Don’t pretend everything’s OK
The default mode for most of us women – especially when we are very interested in a man – is to simply put up with what’s happening and stuff down our feelings for fear of scaring him away. You’re also more prone to doing this when you’ve had a string of unsuccessful relationships. The older you get and the more heartbreak you endure, the more you want to “not mess this up.”
And so you keep quiet even when you’re seething with anger. You say “sure!” when he suggests something you really don’t feel comfortable doing. You pretend it doesn’t bother you when he isn’t giving you the time and affection you need.
But doing this actually prevents you from connecting with a man and forging a deeper relationship with him. Why? Because he never gets to see what makes you tick, what makes you YOU. Not just that, but the longer you go without speaking your feelings, the more you start to resent your man. And then you start unconsciously becoming “cold” to him in a way that he can sense…and this in turn pushes him away.
Don’t make him wrong
Often, and especially when we’ve been swallowing whatever it is that’s bothering us about a man, we’ll end up simmering with so much anger that one day we just can’t take it. That’s when, despite our best efforts, our emotions take over and everything comes out in an explosion of feelings.
What comes out is often something that sounds like an accusation to him: “How could you have spent the whole weekend with me and then not called for two whole days?!” All he hears is that he was wrong. That’s when he becomes defensive, shuts down, and can’t hear you anymore.
That’s also when, unfortunately, we end up with a man who becomes distant from us or pulls away altogether. We’re left holding all the cards, feeling awful, and thinking we’re entirely to blame and can’t make relationships work. There’s a much better way…
Do speak your feelings and issue the magic phrase…
Once you learn this, it will save you so much heartache and frustration. If a man does something that doesn’t make you feel good – and he does it consistently – then focus on the feeling rather than what he’s doing. If he forgot to call, say “I’m feeling disappointed that we don’t talk as often as we used to.” Notice you are not even saying the word “you” here. It’s not about what he is or isn’t doing – it’s about what’s going on in the relationship and how you are feeling.
Then, say the magic words: “Is there something I should know?” Instantly, you are shifting the conversation from one of making him wrong to one of finding out if there is something wrong. See the difference?
When you express your feelings about the situation and give him a chance to make it better, you are setting both of you up for an open dialogue that will either tell you that this man has some non-negotiables you can’t live with…or whether he’ll work with you to develop an even closer bond.
To learn more ways to express your feelings in a way that will make a man want to listen to you and come closer to you, subscribe to Rori’s free relationship advice e-newsletter. You’ll learn a simple three-step system you can use in any situation to connect more deeply with your man whether you’re dating or in a committed relationship.
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