“But if I accept him for the way he is and just let him be himself, how will I get my needs met?”
I often get asked this question by clients (not just about boyfriends, but about girlfriends, friends, whatever the relationship is where you feel like you’d like to change the person).
The idea that if we let go of the desire to control how our partner shows up then we may suffer.
But there are two things to point out with this question:
We say ‘letting them be themselves’ as if we have any other option. As if when we’ve been disappointed, annoyed, and frustrated about who they are as a person it’s previously helped and magically changed them. It doesn’t. The humans are going to be the humans. No matter whether you ‘let them’ or not.
The end of the question assumes that the only way for you to fulfil your desires is to mould another person into who you’d like them to be so that you can feel the way you’d like to feel.
But here’s the truth…
You have desire and wants within your relationships (some call these needs). The need to feel respected. The need to feel secure. The need for intimacy. The need for affection and love.
Notice how they are all FEELINGS. Feelings that are created by THOUGHTS you think, when your partner behaves in a certain way.
This is why my brain may ‘need’ very different things in order to have thoughts that create security compared to what your brain needs.
My brain may want texts every few hours. Yours may think that’s crazy and think twice a day is plenty.
That’s because it isn’t the TEXTS fulfilling your emotional need, it’s your THOUGHTS that create whether you feel happy and secure or sad and neglected.
So what my clients really mean when they ask me this question is…
“If I stop trying to control my circumstance (what my partner does), then I might have thoughts that create a negative emotion - or I might not have thoughts that create a positive emotion.”
“If I don’t make sure my partner behaves in the way I want them to, I might not have thoughts that create security and happiness, and instead I might have ones that create sadness and rejection.”
But here’s another truth bomb…
The way your partner behaves isn’t what’s going to ‘make’ you feel sad or rejected and it isn’t going to make you feel loved and happy.
Your partner could tick all your boxes, and your brain might still say words to you that create anxiety or doubt.
AND on top of that - your brain telling you the best way to create the feelings you want to experience is to make sure your partner acts in the way you like, NEVER actually works.
Because they have free will and will never be able to follow your manual perfectly. It just results in you constantly trying to control and manipulate them, and them feeling resentful and doing things out of a sense of obligation, not connection or love.
So what should you work on instead?
Get clear on what you’re wishing your partner would do
Understand WHY you want that thing. What ‘need’ does it fulfil? What emotion are you hoping to feel if they do it?
Notice the THOUGHTS your brain would choose to believe if that specific thing happened. For example, ‘They love me’, ‘They prioritise me’, ‘I’m important’. Take back ownership of this.
Then consider whether you can actually believe these things anyway, without this person needing to follow your strict manual to prove it to you.
How else might you be able to create these emotions for yourself? What could you think that would create that feeling? How else might you be able to fulfil this desire?
So we should never ask our partner to do anything or change in any way?
No, that isn’t what I’m saying. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. We should make as many requests as we want to in our relationships.
‘I’d love it if you text me goodnight’
‘It’s important to me for you to make an effort with my friends’
‘I’d like quality time together at least once a week’
What I’m saying is - don’t make whether they comply or not responsible for the way you feel.
Know that YOU are responsible for how you feel, and that you could feel secure and happy without forcing them to do things they don’t want to do.
But what about the things I really really want?
Once you’ve uncovered the reasons you want something, you’ll be able to see what are true desires and deal breakers within a relationship - vs what aren’t.
For example -
I want someone to text me back within an hour because if they don’t I feel anxious and insecure - that might be a reason I don’t really like (doesn’t feel so great to me on reflection)
I want someone who enjoys texting when we’re not together because I find it fun.
You and your partner might share some wants and that makes it a want match. But you might not share other wants.
Your job is to decide what are your deal breakers in terms of wants within a relationship and be open and honest with your partner to discover what their true desires are too.
Rather than shame and blame them into being who you want them to be.
When you’re able to coach your own brain and take responsibility for your negative emotions and ownership of creating your positive emotions - you may realise some of this stuff isn’t even that important to you.
It was more about what you were making the lack of it MEAN vs actually the thing itself.
For example - if somebody didn’t share my desire for texting and I wasn’t choosing to make it mean they didn’t love or care about me and feeling insecure, then I likely wouldn’t see it as a deal breaker and end a relationship over it.
But that’s just me. You may feel really strongly about having a partner who loves to text. We each get to choose.
But this is why cleaning up your OWN thinking and taking responsibility for your own feelings is so important. So we can go after our true desires from a place of abundance, not insecurity and fear.
The things you want your partner to do are likely coming from a place of you wanting to increase connection.
But how connected do you think they feel when you pressure them to behave in ways that aren’t authentic to them?
Need help with this?
This is EXACTLY what my 1:1 coaching will help you with and help you finally feel in control of your brain, your emotions, and creating the relationships you truly want to experience.
Ready? Email email@example.com to book a consult!