Have you had a relationship go south when you were feeling good about it? Were you torn between resignation and resistance? Here are some responses that have led me to peace and acceptance when it was hard to get there.
I recently exchanged emails over several weeks with a man I'd replied to on OKCupid.com. Over time, we had slid into teasing and provocative statements. It came to a halt, to my disappointment, after I'd replied to an invitation of his. I said I couldn't imagine being sexual on a first date; I would be more interested in feeling out a new guy than feeling up until we got to know each other. He reacted to what I said and ended it before we'd even met. Now this isn't devastating as it might be after a few months or years together. But I believe the way to acceptance follows a similar path.
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1. Ask yourself what might happen if you put out a strong counter argument. I just received his email a few days ago and will reply, not with any pleading but just to share where I'd hoped we could connect and move forward. I'll do my best to get in touch with what I experience as his needs, both physically and emotionally. I might ask if he'd be willing to meet for a half hour so I could more deeply understand his change of behavior. Knowing I can't persuade someone against their will, I'd choose to tune in to his needs and preferences. After all, until I know what led to his change of mind, I won't know if I want to or can modify my behavior in ways that could work for us both.
2. Commit to being true to yourself. If he wants you to act in a way you don't feel good about, say no. If you're willing to try out a new behavior, sexual or otherwise, go for it, as long as no one feels compromised. If he wants you to go along with most or all of his choices for meals, for dates, for trips, and it is ok with you, say yes. If you desire more mutuality, speak up for what matters to you. Sometimes the simple act of laying all your cards on the table, in a matter-of-fact voice, as you would with "Please pass the potatoes," makes the next step easier to negotiate.
3. Agree to consider changes if they can lead to greater intimacy. If he's more affectionate, talk about how he can gently draw you toward more expressions of affection, even if you are shy. If you are the one desiring more touch, read a relevant article together; experiment with small steps that can meet both your needs for closeness.
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4. Commit to new agreed-upon behaviors, and set a time at which you will evaluate the results. I read and hear too many stories of hostile endings to relationships. Though there are definitely some good reasons to get out and maybe stay out (domestic violence, depression because of feeling stuck and giving up on working things out), don't forget to focus on what brought you together. Keep reading...
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