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Relationship Coach Says Don't Compete For Your Partner's Attention

Jul 22, 2008
Do you sometimes feel that you are really low on your partner's priority list? Do you feel put aside in favor of the television, computer, friends, family, your partner's job, or even sleep? When you were dating, you felt so special and now you are not sure if you are special anymore, just a convenience, or not even that.

Relationship coaches advise men and women to avoid these three mistaken approaches that people take to regain their partner's attention:

1. Demanding it--"You are married to me. You better remember it and show it ...or else!" That approach certainly will get your partner's attention while you say it and for awhile longer if he or she is scared enough. The problem is that we are not attracted to things that we are scared of. Initially, partners may give you the attention you demand, but the more demanding you become, the more they will want to avoid you. This approach backfires and will not lead to a healthy relationship.

2. Going all out--Sometimes in an effort to regain their partners, people will do things that are not good for their relationships. For example, some women start to go to bars with their husbands although they don't want to and don't have a good time. At first, husbands may be more attentive and interactive, but if their attention begins to drop off, the wives start to become very resentful. These women have taken their time, and their energy, and done things they didn't really enjoy and now are getting nothing for it. Resentment kills relationships. Many men have practically rebuilt their houses board by board to get their wives' attention. When the house is rebuilt, then what? Resentment kills relationships. If you can do things with and for your partner because you want to and not to purchase attention, that is an expression of love. As a move in order to get attention, it is foolish at best. It is no better than buying gifts for people to get their affection (rather than because you want to please them). When they no longer appreciate the gifts or demand more and more, you will get resentful. Any gains would be quickly lost and then some.

3. Bargaining--Bargaining works as long as both parties get what they want and what they want is not available elsewhere at a cheaper price. This kind of relationship advice is common, but misguided. Every relationship does have give and take, but the purpose is not to see how much we can take. The purpose of give and take is to find a balance where both partners feel that they are getting out of the relationship as much as they are putting in. That prevents resentment. Bargaining for your partner's attention is like paying your kids for getting good grades. It does provide an incentive, but it takes away internal motivation. When the reward is removed, so is their natural desire to get good grades. Or, in your partner's case, the desire to pay attention to you will decrease while the desire to get whatever you are offering will increase. That is, until that thrill is gone. Or found elsewhere.

The best way to get your partner's attention may come as quite a surprise--by working on having a balanced life that you enjoy. In other words, the best way to compete for your partner's attention is not to compete for it. The more desperate or needy you become, the less attractive you will be not only for your partner, but for yourself and for others. Just as we are repelled by whatever makes demands on us, we attracted to whatever flourishes. Would you rather spend your time in a beautiful rose garden or sitting among weeds and thistles that cling to life? Just as you are attracted to people who have a purpose and zest for life, so others will be attracted to you--including your partner! This is equally true for men and women.

Is it still possible that your partner will not be attracted to you even if you get your life together? Of course. But, if he or she chooses to ignore the diamond (you)for lumps of coal (football, friends, shopping, family, etc.) he or she will be the fool and not you. You can always be rejected by anyone at anytime, but they have much more to lose if you are a person who is put together and loving your life. If they do reject you, they will typically soon miss you because it is so hard to find the kind of great person you have become. If you are not together and have little zest for life, well, you won't be so hard to replace.

As relationship coaches constantly remind people, you will adjust to your changes faster than other people will adjust to your changes. Although you are making good changes, it will take your partner time to find out that they are really good and then be comfortable with them. It is not important that your partner agrees on the changes at first. People are more easily convinced with results than with words. In as little as three months, you can start to have a healthy, loving, and fun relationship with your current partner. Working with a relationship coach is a good way to stay committed, make the right changes, and have fun at the same time.
About the Author
Jack Ito PhD is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach.

Download his Free Relationship Planning Guide and Sign up for the Relationshp Coach Newsletter at www.GreatRelationshipCoach.org
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