Losing Strategies in Relationships
“That’s not what’s happening between us. _________ is what’s happening, and I can prove it.”
“You really need to change in order for our relationship to work.”
“I have the right and the need to share my feelings with you when I am feeling them.”
“I want you to experience how you make me feel sometimes.”
“That’s right! Just walk away when things get tough. I am so tired of you shutting down.
These are all statements that are common in relationships.
They are also statements representing what Terry Real, the creator of Relational Life Therapy, calls the “Five Losing Strategies” that can erode a healthy relationship and create hurt and resentment.
It is normal to engage in any of these losing behaviors, and it has nothing to do with one’s character. Yet, many couples believe that the losing strategies are purposeful and meant to shame their partner.
The truth is that your partner is not the enemy. The problem is the patterns both of you have brought into your relationship. These patterns are developed and practiced throughout life without intention, meaning they are predominantly subconscious behaviors.
Let’s take a look at the losing strategies more closely and learn more about how the patterns break down a relationship.
- BEING RIGHT: “That’s not what’s happening between us. _________ is what’s happening, and I can prove it.”This is considered “lawyering” or presenting evidence to prove that you hold the knowledge that matters in the relationship. This is a losing strategy because the goal of healthy communication is not to be right, it’s to understand and accept your partner’s perspective. The only way to truly work through challenges is to listen and respond generously with your partner. Let them have their say and validate even if you disagree. If you listen and validate then you will get your turn to express your opinion and have it validated.
Terry Real has a saying, “You can be right or you can be married.” Relationships are all about the emotional felt sense of safety and connection.
- CONTROLLING YOUR PARTNER: “You really need to change in order for our relationship to work.”People don’t like to be controlled, directly or indirectly. Whether it’s telling someone how to drive or attempting to control who your partner spends time with socially, this is a form of manipulation. Control is an illusion, and payback is inevitable.
- UNBRIDLED SELF-EXPRESSION: “I have the right and the need to share my feelings with you when I am feeling them.”This can also be called “kitchen sinking”, saying what is on your mind without care or respect.. When disconnection and arguments occur over a period of time, partners will tend to bring up refer back to the many hurtful statements and actions from the past. This usually includes statements like, “You always, or you never…”
- RETALIATION: “I want you to experience how you make me feel sometimes.”If you feel you have been wronged or hurt in some way by your partner, you retaliate from the position of the victim. And, you believe that your retaliation is completely reasonable. While you may feel justified in retaliating from this position, the reality is you rarely get the result you want.
It’s important to understand the difference between retaliating and simply standing up for yourself; you can stand up for yourself without attacking. Standing up for yourself with love and respect creates greater intimacy between you and your partner.
- WITHDRAWAL: “That’s right! Just walk away when things get tough. I am so tired of you shutting down.”
Some partners shut down emotionally or remove themselves physically. Withdrawal creates resentment and makes it impossible for differences to be resolved. Nobody likes to be shut out, and in fact, it’s often a much more damaging way to respond to your partner than staying in contact and sharing your anger or upset.
Don’t worry. There is hope.
Most people can see themselves in one or all of these losing strategies. These are learned behaviors that can be unlearned, and there are winning strategies that will help you develop loving and intimate relationships with those you care about most.
Contact us today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to discuss how Nexus Counseling Services can help you build the relationship you want and deserve.