Relationship Advice Tips from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

alstromeria1 - Four alternatives to withdrawing from your romantic relationship

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Your partner wants you to get dressed for a party when you want to crawl into bed and crash with fatigue. You are frustrated and disappointed that your wish to take care of yourself isn’t taken seriously. The other day you needed your partner to listen to your rotten experience at work but once again your need went unnoticed and you felt disregarded. When these experiences repeat themselves you may feel you have no choice but to withdraw from the relationship.

You are aware of your partner’s need but they don’t get yours

You go out of your way to be understanding and accommodating of your partner’s needs and wishes. You are aware of the hot spots that create tension so you work hard to keep things cool. But in the meantime your feelings are not getting their fair share of consideration in the relationship. You get angry and resentful, and when you can’t take any more you withdraw. You deprive your partner of your love and support- even if it means you end up being lonely, isolated and sad that your efforts have been so unrewarding.

The way you communicate your expectation can make or break the relationship.

Perhaps because you are expecting your partner to reciprocate and make the same efforts you make to keep things comfortable and safe between you. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say. Indeed not, but there may be one crucial difference in how the expectations get communicated. The way it is done can be the fulcrum on which the relationship survives and thrives.

light20lilac20columbine - Four alternatives to withdrawing from your romantic relationship

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Emile knew that Gabby hated the smell of his aftershave lotion. He took care never to use it again. Similarly Emile was aware of Gabby’s wish to have her sister over for Sunday brunch every other week. He would rather have had her all to himself or socialize with friends, but he understood the importance of the sister connection and never complained. He made it a part of his bi-monthly experience and learned to enjoy it.

How did Emile know these and other things about what Gabby liked and what she didn’t like?

Gabby shared these things with him as they arose in the relationship. As he got to know Gabby better, he became wise to other of her needs and they talked about how to meet them without Emile having to compromise his needs.

Gabby on the other hand never knew what Emile wanted or needed. He never told her up front and they rarely discussed it. All she saw was his annoyed face, his shoulders shrugging and his cold withdrawal when he was displeased.

two20tone20cyclamen - Four alternatives to withdrawing from your romantic relationship 

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Emile wanted Gabby to know what he wanted so he wouldn’t have to spell it out

Emile expected and wanted Gabby to read him perfectly so that he didn’t have to talk about his needs and boundaries. He wanted to be saved the discomfort of having to experience those feelings in the first place. Gabby wasn’t able to do that, forcing Emile to live through the disturbing feelings and then share them so that they could be considered. He wanted to bypass his feelings and have her preemptively take care of them so he could be spared the ordeal.

yellow20spotted20with20red - Four alternatives to withdrawing from your romantic relationship

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Gabby’s inability to read Emile in the way he expected made him furious.

But rather than feel the feelings and take steps to improve communication, he would withdraw, wait for the anger to subside and carry on as before. Many a time he came close to ending the relationship for good, but he was still hoping that one day Gabby would “get it” and take the burden of feeling anything but comfortable off of him.

Emile can experience greater comfort and ease in the relationship if he acts on his own behalf and follows these steps:

1.    Spend the same time and energy on taking care of Gabby’s needs on himself.

2.    Let his feelings guide him to delineate his boundaries, needs and wishes so that Gabby can honor them, just as she does with him.

3.    Grow strong by exercising his right to have needs that are respected by Gabby. He has to exercise the right actively and consistently, so it becomes second nature to him. Then ‘feeling’ things won’t be such a nuisance.

4.    Check in with Gabby when he does share his needs. Make sure she has clearly understood and clear up any misunderstandings.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.