When my girlfriends and I get together, let’s face it — Men are usually at the forefront of our conversations. We wait for the inevitable, “So, how are you two doing, exactly?” There’s a pause, usually a long drawn-out sigh before the giant vent session ensues about the shit that our man does wrong. We complain that he doesn’t listen, he won’t open up, he works too hard, or he stopped doing x or y or z for us. He’s either too much or not enough. He’s not saying the right words; he’s not making us feel the right way. We compare. We make assumptions. We continually expect more, or something different, than what he’s providing.
It can be therapeutic to talk to our girlfriends about the messy side of romance. They offer a safe outlet for when we need a good emotional word vomit. They relate, they sympathize, and they offer advice.
But, before you pour another glass of vino and keep the complain train going, ask yourself this question:
Have you actually sat your man down, face to face with no distractions, and told him what you want?
Wait, what? No. That would be selfish. He’d think I’m needy. No thanks, that’s an uncomfortable conversation.
And it is. The concept of asking for what we want, and being direct about it, is seen as self-serving. It’s selfish — Except it’s a type of selfishness that benefits your partner. It helps them understand you better, and helps you both feel a higher level of satisfaction in your relationship.
Ladies, our men are not mind readers. And (surprise) we have no f*cking clue what they want either. Misinterpretation, hurt feelings, and passive aggression — it all happens with a lack of clear communication. We know this.
So, how do we actually clarify our wants? How many wants should there be? Which ones are the most important? What if I have a list of a hundred different wants? How do I make them not sound like a list of demands? And… what if he says “no” to my wants?
Throw those questions away. I’m going to flip your perspective on the word “want.”
Our wants are not things. They are not tangible. In a relationship, change your wants into what you want to feel appreciated for. Appreciation is the key — it changes everything.
It all comes down to appreciation, and offering it in return. Turn your initial wants into how you want to feel appreciated, and you’ll find clarity, you’ll know what is most important to you, and your list won’t be excessive. It eliminates any act of demand. It takes away the fear of “no.”
It’s easy to fall into the mentality of wanting our partner to do certain things, and do more of them for us. When, really, we want to feel valued and loved for what we believe makes us who we are. We want to be recognized for the effort we put into our relationship.
Dig deep and ask yourself: what do you want to be appreciated for?
If that’s slightly difficult for you to answer right away, join the club. What parts of you are so wonderful that they deserve to be appreciated? It’s not an easy concept. What about yourself do you love and value, and want to be loved and valued for in return? What are the actions that you take to make your relationship work, to make it positive, to demonstrate love and affection?
Start with what immediately comes to mind. Keep it simple, keep it personal. Maybe you’re a great listener, or you’re extremely patient, or you put a lot of effort into looking your best. Maybe you always clean the house, or you surprise him with small gifts, or you are very complimentary.
So, armed with your thoughts, try this with your partner. Grab a bottle of wine, turn off House of Cards and put on this playlist.
- Sit down and ask him to tell you what he wants to be appreciated for — before you even get to yourself, ask him. Explain why, and give him a bit of time to think about it. His answers might surprise you.
- When he’s told you what he wants to be appreciated for, say it back to him. Tell him, “I appreciate you,” for everything that he just said, and tell him why.
- Now, it’s your turn. Explain to him what you’d like to be appreciated for, and let him respond. Chances are, he’ll tell you exactly why he adores the shit out of you (and those other ‘wants’ will melt away).
Remember, we can’t change a person. It’s tiresome for both of you if you expect him to know what you want — he won’t know, and he won’t do it willingly. He’s not a mind reader (and neither are you). So open the conversation up with appreciation. It might not solve every problem, but it has the potential to change the dialogue in the relationship to something positive and reinforcing.
Be grateful for each other. Dig deep and get vulnerable with each other. Being acknowledged, feeling recognized, being told how loved you are and seeing how much care he has for you — That’s the stuff that will make you gush happily to your girlfriends about your man any day.