Setting boundaries or being a b*tch?
Emily and Michael have been dating for a few months. Everything seemed to be going well until Michael decided that he wanted to spend Saturday night with the guys. Emily is disappointed because he told her that morning so she didn’t have notice to make other plans. Michael knows they had an unspoken date on Saturdays but pleads his case that it is his friend’s birthday and forgot to plan ahead. He doesn’t want to let his friend down but knows it is upsetting Emily. Emily is upset and wonders if she doesn’t set the boundaries that she will become a doormat to Michael.
If you isolate this event out of context, you can go back and forth wondering the correct code of behavior this couple should follow. You would probably make a judgment on them based on your own personal experience. Imagine now that Emily had a history of bad men in her life and was constantly heartbroken. After being a doormat for so long, she commits to stand up for herself which turns her into a b*itch when he slips up. She is always questioning his commitment to the relationship as Michael has not told her how he really feels about her yet. As you widen the view of the relationship, you see Emily’s frustration and fears.
Now, imagine another scenario that Michael has been a great boyfriend for Emily and is really into her. He has spent so much time with her that his friends feel forgotten. Out of duty of friendship, he wants to be there for his buddy. As you see the scenario through Michael’s eyes, you see that his intentions are good for both him and Emily. He feels as though nothing he does is good enough and he is always disappointing her. He had the same issue with his critical mother and feels let down.
For most of us in relationships, we have too little information to make a judgment on someone or their behavior. We only see a limited view of who they are. Jumping to conclusions based on past fears can derail a good relationship and set it up for never-ending drama.
Before you make assumptions, put yourself in the mind of your partner for a moment. Would you look at the scenario differently if you saw it through their eyes and their past? The only way to truly know the other person’s intentions is to ask them. You can’t always guarantee a clean, honest answer but at least their information may be closer to the truth than the story your mind makes up about the situation.
Once you collect all the information through calm communication, you can then decide if their behavior is something you can live with or work out a compromise. Look at the entire history of the relationship to see if this is an isolated incident or recurring pattern. The key is to not take their actions personally and look at them with objective eyes without all your past heartaches interfering with your judgment.
Being a b*tch is fear disguised as bravado. Setting boundaries without aggression is a sign of power and confidence. By being willing to walk away from poor behavior, you have total control of your experience. Crying, complaining and yelling to manipulate someone else to act a certain way is certain to leave you down a long, rough road in the relationship. Only you can decide the right thing to do and if is a small issue or a major red flag.
For guys, take this into consideration next time the woman you are dating seems to be nitpicking at everything you say and do. Instead of taking it personally, think about her past relationship experience and the possibility that she may just be afraid of getting hurt again. If you can both talk frankly about the root of the conflict instead of the surface behaviors, you can clear the way for a strong foundation together in a lasting relationship.