3 steps to keep your relationship thriving when you’re committed to personal change

How partner-pleasing can land your relationship in trouble
On the surface, partner-pleasing in a relationship can look like a beautiful thing. In fact, for many women, “going along to get along” is seen as the ultimate in being a good wife or girlfriend.

But there’s a problem with relationships built on this kind of partner-pleasing foundation (and trust me, it’s a doozy). It’s that even if you win, you lose. If you constantly suppress your own needs and desires to make your partner happy, your relationship will eventually end in one of three ways:

1. The cycle-of-relentless-drama option: Each time you deny your own truth, you resent your partner a little more for not recognizing your sacrifice and reciprocating it. The pressure builds until you explode spectacularly at them for something minor. Your explosion doesn’t change anything though, so you rinse and repeat until the cycle gets too much, and you both decide to call it quits.

2. The relationship-slow-death option: Even if you’re not the “exploding type”, over time you start feeling more and more taken for granted. Gradually, that sense erodes any positive feelings you have for your partner; and after a while, you can’t remember why you ever thought you loved them. Eventually, your relationship dies a slow death; and you’re left confused and wondering where it all went wrong.

3. The deathbed-regrets option: You do such a brilliant job of pretending you don’t mind putting yourself last that you actually start believing it yourself. Your relationship survives until death-do-you-part. But then, looking back over your life, you’re swamped with regrets for everything you wanted that it’s now too late to have.

I think we can agree that NONE of these options are part of the amazing, fantastic life you want for yourself! Being true to yourself isn’t always easy: it may require some incredibly uncomfortable conversations. If you’re willing to face those conversations, though, chances are high that your relationship will emerge much stronger from them.

3 steps to being true to yourself without jeopardizing your relationship
So exactly how do you go about making those conversations as successful – and smooth – as possible? Here are the three steps I recommend taking:

1. Start by committing to being your real self: Recognize that unless you’re open and honest about what you most want in your life, you’re building your relationship on a lie. It might feel as though you’re serving your partner by pushing your real needs down… but in effect, you’re denying your partner the chance to know the real you. (And how would you feel if you discovered at the end of your relationship that they’d been lying to YOU about who they were all along?)

2. Empower yourself so you can give to your partner authentically: Please realize that I’m not telling you to totally ignore your partner’s needs. But there’s a huge difference between “giving” (meeting your partner’s needs because you want to), and “pleasing” (suppressing yourself to make them happy). Recognizing that difference, and knowing which of the two is driving you can require some serious commitment to personal growth.

3. Show your partner that you have their back: Let your partner express their worries and concerns, without getting defensive or judging them. Give them the benefit of the doubt about where those concerns are coming from. And, of course, when you talk about your dreams and goals for the future, make sure you reassure your partner that your relationship has a place in it.

Need a little relationship support as you work on creating an amazing life?
Any relationship will need a period of adjustment if one partner in it commits to changing themselves in some way. If both partners are used to openly, authentically communicating their needs and desires, that adjustment period tends to be short and relatively painless.

If, on the other hand, the relationship is built on a foundation of one person’s “partner-pleasing”, the adjustment will probably be far more stressful. If you need help to keep your relationship thriving as you start to change the way you live your life, I can help.

Felicia Baucom
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