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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Premium: How Do I Handle Rejection When it Feels So Bad?

Image by Ulrike Leone

Q. Lately I’ve been having depressing thoughts caused by me and my girlfriend splitting up (she dumped me!). We had such a good thing and I just can’t seem to pull myself out of my gloomy state. She’s now got someone else and it drives me insane with jealousy, it really hurts. Another thing that hurts is I’ve been dumped twice this year now. This has destroyed my confidence as both girls went on about how ‘nice’ I am, but still dumped me. 

A. I am sorry to hear how you feel because life is such a precious thing which we have to try to enjoy every single day. It is all we have, not a rehearsal for another life, and you do sound miserable. But you are not alone in your feelings. Many people find it difficult to deal with rejection. They think so low of ourselves, they put their whole life in the hands of one person to get ‘happiness’, and when that is withdrawn, the pain of losing it is too much to bear. However, let’s start with some brutal truths, as I cannot help you with pretence. 

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LISTEN FREE! How Can I Stop Feeling That No One Will Ever Love or Want Me?

Many people who might be single for a long while, or have had hurtful experiences in relationships, tend to believe they will never find the person they seek because nobody seems to want them or find them lovable. But the root of that assumption lies much closer to home than with other people.

This podcast explores the main reason for such fearful beliefs.

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

IF YOU FOUND THIS EPISODE USEFUL….SUBSCRIBE to Lessons in Life podcast on Anchor for more topics that could be of value to your situation or dilemma. 

Follow Elaine on Twitter @ESiheraESC for new podcast alerts.

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’

Today’s Thought: What Are You Attracting?

Many people believe that to find their ideal partner they simply have to look for the right physically attractive person and everything will be fine. But whoever we are drawn towards are also drawn to us because of the vibes we are giving off. If we are suspicious, wary, or lacking in empathy or cold in approach, sadly that’s exactly what we will attract in others because, quite simply, like attracts like.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dating Apps?

Photo by Hello I’m Nik

It is difficult to give any concrete advice regarding dating apps, because seeking a date is a highly personal activity, with too many factors to take into account, as regards personal success. Thus only you can decide whether a dating app is worth it for you, no one else can make that judgement, especially for the following reasons:

  1. A dating app like, Tinder or Bumble, offers a service, which either suits the users, or doesn’t. But only individual experience can help users decide if they are really benefiting from that service. Human beings being different, it is likely that every user has his/her own unique experience, with varying levels of satisfaction.
  2. There are millions of people using dating apps now because the old ways and means of finding partners are no longer there. If you don’t use apps, you could be losing access to tons of other daters. So the best thing is to learn to use them, find out why they might not be working as well for you, and hang in there. Patience often pays off. But you have to know what you’re seeking, and what actions will improve your chances.
  3. You are likely to meet someone on a dating app much quicker than anywhere else. But another good, underrated vehicle for meeting potential dates are the local MeetUp groups. In fact they are much better because they are mainly about socialising, they are also face to face, and there is no pressure to impress anyone, as you are mainly going to mingle and be entertained. If you happen to like someone, hurray. If not, it doesn’t matter. There’s always the next event and new people. That’s how I met my current partner seven years ago, through a MeetUp club I organised, and I can’t praise it enough.
  4. It is easy to believe that dating apps are not worth it, if you are having little reaction. But there are lots of reasons for that, too, and only educating yourself on how to get the best from dating apps would change your situation. For example, try other dating apps than the ones you’re familiar with, and compare the outcomes. That comparison could give you a better idea of what suits you best rather than seeing any particular dating app as defective.

RELATED BOOKThe Pleasures and Pitfalls of Online Dating!