Problem Point: How Do I Get My Girlfriend To Respect Me?

Photo by Courtney Kammers

Q. My girlfriend doesn’t think she “disses” me, but I can’t get her to understand what respect is. She thinks of it as courtesy. When we are together, we do the things she wants to do, even though I have told her plenty of times about this. I often wonder why she will not talk about her feelings to me, unless she is angry at someone. I feel very close to her when she does cry about something in my presence. I get so frustrated when we just have sex and there is no “pillow talk”–and then she will want to play Scrabble, or watch a movie. Have you any ideas how I can get her to recognise what respect is?

A. I don’t promise to have all the answers, because it is difficult forming opinions when one is judging from only one side of a situation, mainly your perspective. However, I’ll simply raise some scenarios, purely from a woman’s perspective, and see if they help in any way. A few things leapt out of your query and I’ll use these as examples.

1. “We do the things she wants to do even though I have told her plenty of times about this.”

You shouldn’t be just TELLING partners what to do, but negotiating a compromise. Only controllers dictate and expect people to follow. If you merely tell her what to do and leave her to act, or constantly complain about her efforts, she will keep doing what she has always done just to defy or punish you, especially if she puts her needs first. What you also don’t realise, is that when you do what she wants, and then tell her you don’t like it, you are reinforcing the very thing you dislike. Of course, it is harder to change it then. The time to express your feelings is BEFORE you both do it, then either join in on mutually agreeable terms, or not at all.

You have two choices here. Either to sit down together and have some genuine, calm dialogues about what makes you both happy, and mentioning how you feel excluded and undervalued at such moments when she merely pleases herself. Then negotiate some sort of compromise so that you BOTH get what you want as often as possible. OR you simply stop agreeing with her actions for a while, don’t try to please her or join in, and see what she does.

Photo by JD Mason

2. “I often wonder why she will not talk about her feelings to me, unless she is angry at someone.”

Often when people stop talking, or appear angry, it is because they feel they are not being heard and are festering with resentment, but lack the courage to say how they really feel. Your girlfriend seems to be keeping talking to a minimum because she probably does not find the process satisfactory, enjoyable or endearing. Instead she deliberately engages in activities which give few opportunities for talking and is also silent in bed (perhaps as a form of punishment for the way she feels). I am not sure how long you have been together, but something seems to have gone in the communication aspect and would need some genuine LISTENING on both sides to get it back.

They say we cannot truly love another until we love ourself. The same with respect. We cannot expect it if we don’t give it, neither can respect be demanded. It has to be earned, too. So the first path towards getting your girlfriend to recognise respect and to treat you accordingly is to do some self-examination of your way of giving respect because the ability to say NO is as important as saying YES.

3. How much do you really treat her with respect? How much does she feel valued and respected for her contributions and opinions? How equal is the partnership? Do you just notice her weaknesses and flaws with little praise for other things?

4. You say that when she cries you feel very close to her. Is it because she is more vulnerable then and more easy to control? You then feel more in charge and less threatened, more protective as the ‘man’? What about closeness at other times? Do you feel as close when she is not crying? If not, why not? Do you feel ‘useless’ at those times? 

Those questions need answering because, if you perceive your girlfriend to have a strong personality or independence, some men can find that difficult to deal with as it threatens their feeling of value, status and even their identity, especially if they have specific cultural references relating to how men and women should act. However, apart from getting her to read my reply, you cannot teach someone about respect. They have to FEEL they want to give it because it usually comes naturally when we truly care about someone and feel at one with them.

As I said, it is difficult for me to advise when I do not know your situation from both sides. Nevertheless, it is surprising what a little bit of listening rather than just telling can achieve. You might not hear what you want to hear, but at least it will provide some clues as to the root causes and also how you can both begin to remedy the situation. Or, more ominously, it could be that either one, or both, of you has lost your appeal and, when that goes, sadly, it seldom comes back which then keeps respect at rock bottom. It sounds as though there is physical appeal between you, but no emotional bond, hence the lack of ‘pillow talk’. If that is the case, or if all else fails, you might have to let that one go and seek someone more affirming, respectful and reciprocal.


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Today’s Thought: Showing True Respect

It is natural to fear difference until we become familiar with it as we are wired to protect our own. That is why RESPECT starts with the self. If we care about ourselves, we tend not to be so fearful of others because it increases our natural empathy. However, we cannot really respect what we don’t understand, especially if it seems to go against our own values and culture. Hence why there is so much suspicion, mistrust and conflict where there is ignorance and lack of exposure to difference.

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Problem Point: Why Can’t I Have A Meaningful Friendship With Someone? Am I Normal?

Image by Sven Lachmann

Question: I honestly can’t recollect a time in life in which I have had a meaningful friendship. All my interpersonal interactions are shallow. I simply can’t seem to relate to my peers. It seems as though the average 16 year old isn’t interested in intellectual discussion. Though I try my hardest, I simply can’t discuss shoes and cars for more than five minutes without drifting off into my own world. I think most of the problem lies with me. I’m shy and appear emotionless to others. I don’t really reach out to anyone. I never know if they actually want to talk or not. This is why I wait for others to initiate conversation. Is there something wrong with me?

A. There is nothing wrong with you, but two things might apply to your situation which would keep you isolated. 

First, you appear to be very mature and intellectual for a 16 year old. You cannot ‘relate’ to your peers because you are too mature and knowledgeable for them. You sound like an adult already inside your young body, judging by your vocabulary and thought process. Of course, not many people would be like you, which you would need to accept. Just as how small talk about ‘shoes and cars’ would bore you to death, discussing the heavy subjects would bore them mightily, too. You perhaps need a compromise where you begin by taking an active interest in others, instead of just caring about your needs. Get to know that person through sharing activities or information and you will seem even more attractive yourself, because others will want to know about you, too, and even want to discuss your subjects. But, if it is all about you, they will just keep away from you.

Second, if you appear ’emotionless’ to others it could be that you are masking some hurt in your life that you have gone through, protecting yourself from future hurt by being detached and guarded. That would not endear you to anyone because TRUST is at the heart of relationships. Unless you can trust others, make friends with them in an expressive and open way, without guarding yourself too much, or being too detached in your interaction, you won’t have many friends. They would always be suspicious of your motives. People can’t react to coldness. It is warmth and interest that draw them near.

Perhaps if you start sharing your feelings with others, to talk about what has affected you, and to empathise with them as well, people might come to see that you are as human as they are,  and come to trust you. Most important, you won’t appear too ‘robotic’ and ’emotionless’.  Furthermore, don’t wait for others to talk first. Start off the process with simple questions about them when it feels okay. That is the only way you’ll know if they wish to talk because they will either answer eagerly, reluctantly, or not at all.

It sounds as though you need intellectual stimulation from other bright people of your own age or older. If you take an interest in others and trust much more, in time you will gradually find the type of people who matches you, as well as the friends you seek.


Today’s Thought: The Power of Self-Value

When you are seeking a partner, it is easy to believe that the relationship is about you getting along with them, and vice versa. But it isn’t. A relationship starts with how you see yourself: whether worthy or unworthy, because others can only take their cue from you in how they treat you, too.

Loving ourselves builds our self-worth. We are more likely to appreciate the wonderful beings we are and value our presence more when we feel good about us. Self-worth comes through constant gratitude for who we are, being thankful that we even have a life when many others do not, and slowly appreciating our many blessings, despite any perceived faults. By appreciating ourselves daily and routinely, we will realise and accept that the other person is as human as we are, not above or below us, and they can only say NO. But, equally, they could also say ‘yes’!

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The Fitness Booster Motivation Tips: Don’t Miss This Week’s Topics!

Do you tend to feel shy, afraid and anxious about life?

• Do you dislike your reflection when you look in the mirror?

• Always finding fault with yourself, what you say, and your actions?

• Is there something you would love to do but feel afraid of doing it, because you fear failure and messing it up, which is more overwhelming than the possible gains?

If you don’t feel particularly confident about yourself, achieving your dreams or having great relationships, and could do with a boost in your self-esteem and self-value, The Fitness Booster Newsletter is just for you! It covers a wide range of mental health and emotional health issues, giving useful tips on what to say in tricky circumstances and how to execute routine actions in a confident, winning way.

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Premium: Dread Speaking to Someone You Like For The First Time? How To Get Past The Fear

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We are all nervous of speaking to strangers, especially those whom we might like or fancy. There is usually some apprehension of how the other person might react: whether they might be wondering about our real motives for contact; whether we are doing the right thing in seeking a friendship with that person and, deep down, a fear of being ignored or rejected by them.

Read more of this content when you subscribe today, and learn how to conquer that fear!

The Fitness Booster Motivation Tips: Don’t Miss This Week’s Topics!

Do you tend to feel shy, afraid and anxious about life? Do you loathe your reflection when you look in the mirror? Is there something you would love to do but feel afraid of doing it, because your fear of failure, or messing it up, is more overwhelming than the possible gains?

If you don’t feel particularly confident about yourself, achieving your dreams, or having great relationships, and could do with a boost in your self-esteem and self-value, The Fitness Booster Newsletter is just for you! It covers a wide range of mental health and emotional health issues, giving useful tips on what to say in tricky circumstances and how to execute routine actions in a confident, winning way.

SUBSCRIBE FREE TODAY on Substack! for regular posts and podcasts on boosting your confidence and feeling more worthy and competent in your activities.


How Can You Be Sure the Person on a Dating App is Single?

Photo by Giorgio Trovato

Using a dating app has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages as not every user will be honest. That’s why you really cannot be sure someone is single, especially if you inject an element of distrust in all your dating experiences through unnecessary suspicion and doubt. However, there is something you can do that will help you much more to feel confident in your interactions, and that is to: take the focus off others and put it on yourself, so that you are sure of what YOU are doing. It will encourage only the right people to come towards you.

A 19th century author, James Allen, once wrote: “Men don’t attract what they seek. They attract who they are.” Simply put, if you wish to attract trustworthy people, you have to be one too, and your own profile words will have to indicate that. For example, you cannot say that you are seeking someone single, then react to every beautiful woman (or whatever criterion pushes your buttons) who says hello to you, without being too discerning! You have to live by whatever you write, so that it matches with your integrity, and it will draw the right people to you.

For example, when I was dating, I spelled it out in my online profile, exactly what I was seeking, and then proceeded to avoid anyone who put ‘separated’ (their wives might not know that they are!), who were looking for ‘fun’ (as though there is no fun in serious relationships), who seemed restricted in their movements or times (particularly on weekends when they should be free), who were reluctant to meet, and just wished to email endlessly, and people who had no photos. What were they hiding? Why were they on a dating site if they couldn’t show themselves? And, finally, people who had very little on their profiles, seeming to be economical with the truth, or just inarticulate.

In fact, I remember a few guys actually contacting me to say that my profile was ‘intimidating’, and would put off many men, meaning it would put them off, exactly the type I didn’t want! I ended up getting guys who liked what I wrote and were genuinely interested in me, and met some amazing people, among them my current partner.

The key thing about using dating apps or sites is to make sure that what YOU say reflects who you are, and what you seek. By sticking to your principles, the people who like what they read will come towards you, and the ones who don’t like it will continue on their way. But by being certain of what you are seeking and not deviating too far from it, you will be able to spot those who don’t match what you seek more easily, including the insincere and attached ones.

RELATED BOOK: 7 Steps to Finding, and Keeping, ‘The One’

LISTEN FREE: Podcast of The Day – Manager Favourite!

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What Can I Do if I Believe No One Truly Cares About Me?

Photo by christopher lemercier

You start by caring about yourself!

However, before I go into that aspect, your belief is likely to be your PERCEPTION of your situation, and not the actual reality. In our life, we always have at least one person who cares about us: whether parent, relative, friend or stranger. There is usually someone there for us. However, we tend to judge everyone as uncaring when we have been hurt, especially by someone we love, then it doesn’t matter who cares about us, because it is likely to make little difference to our feelings.

That is why the answer to your question lies inside you. There is one undeniable fact of life: We tend to get treated exactly how we treat others. If people generally do not seem to care about you, it could be because they perceive you in any of the following ways:

  1. To be a taker rather than a giver.
  2. To know people only when you want something from them.
  3. To be mean with praise, appreciation and gratitude.
  4. To be reluctant to help where necessary.
  5. To be insincere or hypocritical in your actions
  6. To be unreliable in your promises and care for others.
  7. Regarded as perhaps uncaring and selfish.

Do any of those apply to you, and your interaction with others? That is not the way to win friends and influence people, least of all to get them to care about you.

Some people will take advantage of us and our kindness, but there is a direct correlation between how we treat another person and how they view us. However, the way we perceive others has its roots in how we view ourselves. It means that if you do not love and appreciate who you are, you are unlikely to be able to love and appreciate others, too, because you cannot give away what you haven’t got!

The simplest step to remedy your situation is to start caring about yourself, instead of just trying to please others, to fawn over them, or to be mean and insincere to them. Sometimes this is not an easy thing to do after years of acting in a certain way. But it all starts with how you treat yourself, and appreciate the unique person you are, before others can begin to really value you too.

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Problem Question: How Do I Make My Guy Love Me?

Image by Steve Watts

Q. I just can’t get loved by my loved one and that realisation is keeping me frozen… I do feel like the person I am, which is not much… It is the worst feeling to see there is nothing you can offer to your man that another woman cannot do better.

A. You must be in a lot of pain. But you have both the problem and the solution in your email to me. Let’s identify your key comments.

“I just can’t get loved by my loved one and that realisation for me is keeping me frozen… I do feel like the person that I am, which is not much…”

First of all, how can someone love what you are rejecting just now? You don’t think much of yourself (your words) but expect your partner to find that low esteem attractive. That is not possible. No one will love you in your present state because true love begins inside of us. Until you really appreciate the unique and loveable being you are, you cannot appreciate others, neither can they love you in turn. Perhaps that’s why you call others ‘ignorant’ because they are not seeing your low point of view. Yet that is a stereotype reflecting the negativity you feel inside of you.

Currently, you are not giving out much, you simply have needs – the need of another to love you. But just being needy isn’t attractive. Just like how to have friends we have to first be a friend to others, being lovable comes from being able to be a lover, to forget ourselves and to GIVE; to find out what our partners want and SHARE it with them, not just wait for them to love us or to fulfil our needs. Naturally, the more needy and worthless you feel, the less you will have it remedied, and the less you will have to give, because no one can make you happy if you are unhappy with yourself. You will always feel miserable and inadequate. YOU have to start the loving process first to get the love you seek.

Dealing With a Negative Situation
If your partner is having, or has had, an affair, then sitting in that demoralising situation wondering why he found someone more attractive won’t help you. It only makes you feel worse: truly rejected, unwanted and unloved. You have to begin the slow process of finding out why you think you are not much, why you feel unloved and begin to appreciate yourself, a step at a time.

Once you begin to feel better about you, as a person, others will flock to you and your husband is more likely to notice and respect you. But the simple truth is that you are not likelt to find love until you love yourself, because you are offering something unlovable to others, something you don’t care about, something you loathe. Yet you expect them to compensate for that loathing by loving you instead. You expect them to be excited about your substandard goods. Cart before horse, I’m afraid.

You have a lot going for you, with or without a someone else. Pick yourself up and stop focusing on your partner. You will never be able to please him in this state. Keep saying to yourself that if he doesn’t like you, there is always someone else and start to rebuild your confidence. Once attraction goes, it doesn’t return, no matter what you do. Something essential is lost. You merely prolong the pain. To keep the relationship it has to be re-established on a different plain of mutual respect, and that’s very hard to do when we are feeling unloved and resentful and the other party isn’t really interested. Sadly, while you are waiting to please him further, he is already looking outside and the one thing these outside liaisons do to a relationship is to show what is missing from it, which makes reconciliation even harder.

Stop trying to be Perfect
Most important, stop being hard on yourself in trying to be a perfect parent for your child. The more you do that, the more inadequate you will feel trying to measure up. Life does what it likes and just because you cannot offer your son two parents doesn’t mean he does not appreciate the individual love you each have to give him. Get rid of your desire for perfection and accept your situation as it is. Try to improve it in other ways instead of vainly holding on to an ideal which is draining your resources and sapping your confidence and esteem.

Will love be back? you ask. Yes it will, every time. Only you can bring love back into your life when you stop seeking approval, stop expecting people to love you to make up for your lack of self love, stop trying to be perfect and start giving to others and yourself, instead of just waiting to receive. Believe me, it would be a wholly new and fulfilling experience.

How can you make your man love you? You can’t, so stop trying. Something is missing from your relationship and unless you find out what it is, the situation will only get worse. The real question here seems to be, “How can I love myself?”. Once you work that out, things will begin to happen that you didn’t even expect because you won’t wait around for his love. However, do hang in there. It really does get better when you begin to look outwards, when you can see where you want to go and you begin to truly value the most important person in your world – YOU!

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RELATED BOOK: Cheating & Betrayal: A Handy Guide to Reducing Its Impact

Which Teaches Us More? The Success of Others, or Our Own Failures?

Photo by Zac Durant

We tend to learn from both examples, but the success of others tends to teach us far more about what we, too, could achieve, than our failures. Of course, everyone is unique, and their approach might not suit our personality or objectives.

However, when we have setbacks or failures, unless we learn the lesson they give us, we would be no nearer to improving our approach, expectation or life situation. We would just keep repeating the same mistakes again and again, and getting the same old results.

What the success of others do for us is immediately show us what is possible, especially if that success is associated with people who are culturally like us (whether in age, gender, colour, etc.). It suggests to us that we, too, can make it, especially if we had thought we were excluded and didn’t stand a chance.

For example, in the 40s and 50s America, it was assumed that only White players could play baseball. That assumption prevailed for a long while to justify racism, while the recruitment to the sport continued to mirror the racial stereotype of suitability and success. Enter Jackie Robinson to win the first Rookie of the Year award in a national league (1947), becoming the first outstanding Black player, although Moses “Fleet” Fleetwood Walker was the first African-American to play professional baseball in 1886, changing the White narrative of sports history.

Robinson’s successes inadvertently showed that minorities could play the sport, too. and it led to a stream of Black players after that, mainly because other minorities were influenced by the success of the early role models and wanted to be part of the action. Today the thought of only one colour of player in the game would be unthinkable.

The same with the advance of women. For example, in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwood became the first female doctor in America after being rejected by at least 10 medical schools. The first Black doctor, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, gained her qualification 15 years later, and their successes served to inspire many women into the profession and other fields.

The success of others is always more powerful and encouraging in its effect on us. Failure of any kind shows what we cannot do, while success reinforces what is possible for us, creating new undreamt of opportunities. Hence why success is likely to be a more effective influence on our future actions.