I’ve written before about how nature seems to have wired you girls to be naturally attracted to alpha males and how that’s not necessarily the best formula for long term relationship success, no matter how much you find it attractive.
You know the type. The strong, achievement oriented guy?
The guy who sees the world his own way and heads out to conquer it?
When my long term partner met me that’s who she saw and I’m sure that’s what attracted her to me.
I was the typical alpha male type when it came to work and business life. I have always had a strong drive to achieve.
Before I was married I had my sights set on using creative finance real estate investing as my vehicle to the top.
I insisted anyone who married me had to be on board with that.
I found a girl who was game and married her, figuring her willingness to get with the program was a great indicator I’d found a keeper.
Boy was I wrong.
Not because she wasn’t a great girl.
But because beyond all appearances to the contrary, we were anything but on the same page.
I liked order. She liked to relax about it.
I like peace and quiet. She liked action.
I like predictability. She liked sponteneity.
You know. The whole “opposites attract” thing?
That was us.
We were attracted to each other like flies to honey. More like moths to the flame!
Guess which one of us was the flame?
She didn’t have a chance!
It didn’t take long until my strong personality started to assert order.
Require peace and quiet.
Insist on predictability.
I honestly don’t know how my partner survived those first 5 years of marriage with me, because all I did was kill her.
Over and over and over.
That she came out with any sense of self esteem at all is a miracle!
Maybe I was sent into her life to force her to grow her self esteem.
Because she was a very submissive girl who found her self worth in the approval of others.
She needed to learn the hard way I guess.
At least that’s what she did.
Finally things got so bad she insisted we see a counselor.
That’s one thing I’ll give her. She tried many times throughout our marriage to get things fixed by getting us somewhere we could possibly find some help.
Help from someone other than the one who figured we didn’t need any help.
Because he already knew exactly what we needed!
As this gentle, wise counselor spoke with me in a private session, he said something that changed my life forever.
He said “Kel. Different isn’t wrong.”
That was the moment the lights went on and I realized for 5 years I had been killing my partner.
It was a slow death so thankfully she was not completely gone yet. But she was getting close.
“Different is not wrong.”
The fact I like order doesn’t mean my partner is wrong for not valuing it the way I do.
The fact I like peace and quiet doesn’t mean my parther is wrong for valuing action.
The fact I like predictability does not make my partner’s penchant for spontaneity inappropriate.
And neither does it mean this for you.
You and your partner are two unique individuals. You both bring something special to your relationship that only you can bring.
As I began to change, I started to think back to what attracted me to my partner in the first place.
If I was honest it was her zest for life.
Her not being hung up on order but being chill.
The way she could pull me out of my quiet self seclusion.
The spontaneous and ever changing color she added to my life.
The fact is I desired her because she was not like me. Because she brought me out of myself and forced me out of my shell.
I know. There is a balance to be had here and when we first connect we’re naive.
Some relationship writers would insist that while this opposites attract thing is true initially, you are wiser to choose someone more like yourself for the long run.
I think that’s good advice if your plan is long term monogamy.
But as always, nature seems to have other plans.
If you’ve identified with how I’ve described myself here, maybe the light went on for you just like it did for me that day.
“Different is not wrong.”
Often it is you guys who play the role of the domineering partner. But that isn’t always the case.
If you’re a girl and you’ve identified yourself in what I’m saying here, feel free to slip off that stiletto and put this shoe on instead if it fits.
If you’re this person in your relationship, you may have realized for the first time today that you too have been killing your partner.
Changing this is really tough because it is so embedded in your nature to believe you’re always right.
If you ever admit you’re wrong, you’re usually just paying lip service to the possibility.
Want to verify that?
Ask your friends who watch you with your partner to be honest with you how they see things.
It will be wake up time I promise…if you really take it to heart.
But one thing your strength gives you is the ability to change.
Once the light goes on, it’s in your power to change in a way most other people just can’t.
I always say those of us with narcissist or borderline narcissist tendencies are the hardest to bring to change, not because we cannot change, but because we cannot see we need to change.
Our biggest problem is we don’t really see ourselves.
We’re jerks. We just don’t know it.
Getting us to see it is the toughest step.
And usually we have to take that step ourselves.
It can take a relationship crisis to finally get us to see.
To see it even when we’re tempted not to believe it’s true.
So the “seeing yourself” phase is the toughest one on the path to healing.
But once you’ve seen how you’re hurting your partner and decide to nuckle down, you can actually change pretty quickly.
Because you’re strong and you know how to identify what needs to be done, commit to getting it done, and make good on it.
As I went from that counselling session that day I said to myself, “No more.”
I was no longer going to keep hurting my partner with my insensitivity, stubbornness, and cruelty.
With a heightened awareness I began to observe myself in action.
One time I would catch myself insisting it is “My way or the highway.”
Another time I would notice myself complaining about household disorder.
When I started to squelch my partner’s spontaneity in some way, I would remind myself, “Different isn’t wrong Kel. It’s just different.”
It took some time but it was a steady line in the right direction.
And I can honestly say while my natural tendencies never completely disappeared, I did become much less dominating and more willing to adapt.
Over time my partner became convinced the changes were real and she began to relax again.
If you and your partner are struggling with this same dynamic and you need someone to help you just like that counselor helped me and my partner, I hope you’ll get in touch with me.
I’d love to help!
How about you? Is it time to stop killing your partner?