Reply To: Relationship lull

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Even the way you’re talking about this spells trouble. You’re describing a situation in which you are afraid to take anything away. You are telling us that you can improve things only by adding something. That attitude is a trap. If she knows that this is your attitude – as she surely, surely does – you have already lost. What you’re telling us is that no matter how she behaves – no matter if you’re happy or not – she can stay over and, the next day, you’re going to go through with whatever plans you had previously made as if nothing had happened.

It doesn’t matter what people tell you about what they want. People are complex and may need years of therapy just to figure out that they’re deluding themselves. The only thing that matters is how people behave. When a woman is giving you less than you need, you should reciprocate. There will be lots of tension and misinterpretation, and there may be some fights, but the alternative is far worse.

You are fundamentally misinterpreting how to influence people. First, you must convince someone that you’re valuable. Presumably, that is how your girl first decided to go out with you, or your employer first decided to hire you. That equation never changes. The most valuable thing you have to give someone is YOU. In the end, whether this is your employer or your lover, the only leverage you have is YOU. Only by maintaining that perception that you’re valuable while convincing the other person that you may take yourself away from them do you ultimately have the leverage to get them to change.

Your weakest hand is to ask them to change. Your strongest hand is to start disengaging as you get less and less of what you want. In the workplace, this would be sending out some resumes. In a relationship, it would be spending less time with someone.

Complaining, whining, and discussing is not attractive. It’s not what makes women think of men as strong, valuable, and in control of their own happiness. You will have no success getting your girlfriend to take part in little role playing games of the type suggested in the Esther Perel book until you give her a reason to want to do it. She will want to do it when she realizes that she is happier when you are more engaged rather than less engaged, but for her to realize this, you have to give her an example of what it feels like when you start to pull away. You have to make the possibility of this loss credible.