Monthly Archives: November 2016

Partner May Not Be Good in a Crisis

Sometimes the very things we find attractive in someone may actually be warning signs that they may not be good for us in the long run. Those high expectations that make him a success in business may turn to unnecessary pressure in a crisis. That dramatic flair that makes him exciting, may actually keep him from being a comfort to you in a time of need. Here are 5 warning signs that your guy may not be good in a crisis.

He can’t go with the flow.

How does he react when things don’t go according to plan? When you get stuck in traffic does he freak out? How about when plans change at the last minute? What does he do when you’re late? If your partner sweats the small stuff, don’t assume he’ll rise to the occasion when there’s a real crisis. Instead, what you see is probably what you’ll get. Most people don’t change personalities during a crisis. In fact, most revert to type. The guy who freaks out when there’s a change of plan, may not be able to handle the uncertainties of a health crisis, or have the flexibility he needs to be a great parent.

He has friends or family he chooses not to speak to anymore.

This is a big red flag. Anyone who is capable of cutting people out of their lives has the ability to see the world as black and white. The truth is that relationships, and life in general, have a lot of gray matter. The more forgiving someone is, the more empathy they have and the more supportive they are likely to be. Make sure you get the story on why he’s pushed someone away and ask yourself if you’d do the same.

There’s a big difference between someone with high expectations and a perfectionist. A perfectionist is defined in Merriman Webster dictionary as: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially: the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness. Need I say more? When a crisis hits, sometimes all you can do is get through the day. A perfectionist can’t let go of expectations and that pressure can be debilitating for someone going through a difficult time.

He talks much more about himself than you to his friends and family.

A supportive partner will be excited to share your accomplishments. He will be sure to mention how well you’re doing at work, or even some small thing that you’ve done that he’s proud of. An unsupportive partner will fail to mention both the big and small things that happen in your world. Instead, he will focus only on what he himself has done. This type of partner may resent the attention you receive during a crisis.

He’s dramatic.

If your guy is the type who seems to create drama wherever he goes, a crisis may bring out the chance for even more. Instead of being the calm in your storm, he may bring on the thunder and add to your emotional burden.

So, now that you see the flags, what do you do? You may not need to kick your guy to the curb right now (unless you checked off every single one of these traits), but it’s good to take stock. Ask yourself how YOU are in a crisis? What do you need during your times of need? Maybe you are the strong one and you like it that way. Or maybe you get tired of always being the one who has to be stoic. Maybe the more intense he gets, the calmer you get and his demeanor doesn’t stress you out. If, on the other hand, you wind each other up, it may be time to think about making a change.

Narcissists and Takers

A friend I’ll call “Ed” kept pushing me to contribute to my school’s alumni fund. The more he called me, the more stubborn I felt that my answer was, “No.”

I felt that not only did I lack the money necessary to contribute in order to make a true difference, but I also knew whatever I could give would be paltry in relation to what the fund had already accumulated.

Finally, Ed said, “You’re the only person who hasn’t said yes.”
Maybe that was the truth. Maybe not. Knowing Ed — and his narcissistic ego — I sensed his motivation behind so actively pursuing my contribution had more to do with his desire to be able to say he got 100% of our class to contribute.

So I said, “I guess that’s the way we’ll have to leave it.”

We all receive unwanted requests from time to time. Some deal with money. Some deal with our precious time. Maybe you’re more generous than I was, or maybe you’re less stubborn. Your response may vary according to the situation, and whether or not you currently possess the resources, abilities, or time needed to oblige.

Learning to say no when requests are unreasonable, impossible, or simply unwanted frees your energy, time, and financial resources so you can say yes to those things you find truly important.

Here is a simple two-step process to identify how and when to confidently say, “NO.”

1. Identify the driving motivational tendencies beneath your difficulty saying no.

In general, women (particularly heterosexual women) find it more difficult to say no than do most men. Women are more concerned about hurting others’ feelings, and are generally more anxious about incurring hostility or resentment from the person asking.

You’ll know immediately that opportunities and issues lie within you as specific concerns and motivations are identified.

One of my closest friends has collected several people she calls her friends. I call them takers, and sometimes narcissists. The relationships she has with these people are one-way streets with aspects of co-dependency — a form of relationship dysfunction in which “one person’s help supports (enables) the other’s under-achievement, irresponsibility, immaturity, addiction, procrastination, or poor mental or physical health.” This dynamic often breeds greater dependency and postpones the other person’s progress, ultimately wearying if not draining the giver.

Too many of my own friendships have been based on such “helping” relationships. Over time, I began to realize how tired I felt being the useful one (if not used), in spite of satisfying my need to be needed, as well as to be seen as a good person. I had to be honest with myself and accept how lopsided these relationships were in order to then wean myself of the habit of forming relationships with needy people.

Relationship is easy things

Do we know what we are doing when it comes to modern relationships, or are we just being hi-jacked by primitive emotions?

There’s a scene in the 1996 movie ‘Jerry Maguire’, where Tom Cruise  famously says to Renée Zellweger, “You Complete Me”. It’s a dry your eyes romantic moment, but it’s at the heart of what goes wrong in relationships.

We are drawn to another person for a sense of completeness. We hope that this relationship will heal or fill an empty space in our life. And for a short time we are wrapped up in a cloud of ‘feel good’ hormones and everything looks and feels better. Then, our brain chemistry normalizes, reality comes crashing in, and we notice that the partner we chose to fill our void, is trying to make changes in us to fill their own. Welcome to codependency!

Modern relationships come in many forms; dating online or in person, cohabiting, marriage, divorce, single-parent dating, remarriage, to name a few.

I’ve experienced all of these and as a researcher and writer on self-leadership, I have a few pieces of advice for those of you who are still looking for ‘the perfect relationship’.

  1. Would you live with you? Before we can successfully be in a relationship with another person, we need to be comfortable with ourselves. We don’t have to be perfect, that’s not what self-esteem means. We need to be comfortable with our imperfections. We need to know what we want, need, value, and believe or how else will we authentically communicate this to a partner.
  2. Learn from the past, don’t repeat it. Your past relationships are not failures, they are part of the learning process to understand what you want, need, value, and believe. If it didn’t work, be honest with yourself about why that was and avoid repeating the pattern. For example, if you are looking for someone to fix, to make your feel better, and they leave you after being ‘fixed’ – there’s a good chance that will happen again.
  3. Understand that the only person you can change is you. People to grow and evolve together but only when they accept each other as they are. The fatal mistake in relationships is to try and change something in someone else. You can communicate how a behavior makes you feel, but the choice to change rests firmly with them. And saying, “If you loved me, you’d do this…” is manipulation 101 and never ends well.
  4. Don’t settle. For a relationship to last, it has to be physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. We often try to settle for 2 or 3 out of 4. If the sex is great but you can’t enjoy a movie together because of a difference in intellect or education, then things are going to turn sour. If you can express your emotions with each other, but spiritually your values clash, then a schism is on the horizon.
  5. Communicate. This is the most fundamental of relationship advice – and the most powerful. Learn to authentically communicate your wants, needs, values and beliefs and listen openly to your partner without judgment. You are unlikely to be in relationship with your clone, and so there will be differences, but these conflicts can often be resolved by communicating in the following way; a) here’s what’s happening, b) this is what I feel, c) this is what I need, d) and so this I my request. The power of this 4-step communication strategy is that there is no blame. You are not making it your partners fault you have a feeling or an unmet need, but you are giving them an opportunity to adjust their perspective or behavior through a request.