Why ‘treating people the way YOU would like to be treated’ is poisonous to a relationship

We’ve all heard the quote ‘treat people the way you would like to be treated’. At its heart the saying is a positive and worthwhile message. It’s telling us to be respectful and thoughtful to others. So, why is it so dangerous, and why does it lead to the downfall of many relationships?

The reason is that by treating our significant other as we would like to be treated means we are not making an effort to truly understand our partner’s needs; instead we are looking at the world through our own narrow lens as to what someone else should or shouldn’t like, want or need.  But the key to a successful and long lasting relationship is the ability to step into our partner’s shoes to understand and meet their needs even if they differ to our own.

A common example of not meeting our partner’s needs is some men’s reluctance to buy their partner flowers. I know personally of a number of men who refuse to buy their partner flowers, using excuses such as ‘they just die after a few days so they’re a waste of money’. In a man’s eyes this can seem like a logical and reasonable justification for not buying flowers for their loved one. They wouldn’t appreciate flowers given to them, so why should their partner? However studies have shown that for women (and, occasionally, men) receiving flowers is a very powerful affirmation of the feeling of being loved and valued, and increases their happiness levels significantly more than other similar value gifts.

Instead, the saying should be ‘treat others the way THEY want to be treated’

Another area that this is often problematic is sex. We all have different sexual needs and desires, and if we are treating our partner how we would like to be treated sexually then chances are there will be considerable disenchantment in the bedroom, which generally leads to disenchantment in the relationship. This is often amplified by the different ways that males and females like to have their sexual needs met. It has been shown that on average men go from first stimulation to climax in 3 minutes, whereas it takes the average woman 18 minutes. If we are so focused on how we want to be treated sexually, chances are our partner will be left feeling unsatisfied and disillusioned.

Instead, the saying should be ‘treat others the way THEY want to be treated’. Our greatest desire in an intimate relationship is to feel understood and respected. When your partner asks questions to really understand you on a deeper level, and then follows up with corresponding actions, it is a really powerful bonding experience. Here’s some ways that you can do this:

  • When your partner is upset with you, instead of getting defensive get curious. Find out why this is such an emotional issue for them. Discover the underlying emotion behind the anger.
  • Ask yourself ’What is my partner’s best intention on this issue?’ Show that you can see why they feel this way, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Ask about their childhood. Dig a bit deeper to find out the pain and hurt from their past, which will help you to understand what triggers them today and why.
  • Look back at the past, particularly early on in the relationship, and recall the things you did that seemed to really make your partner happy. Are you still doing these now? If not, perhaps it’s time to revisit them again.
  • Discuss what your most important values are. Ask each other if these values are being met and if not then find out why not. Tell your partner what you need to have these values respected.

We need to start looking at relationships differently, as our relationship paradigm has altered significantly over the past few decades. No longer can we say ‘this is who I am, like it or lump it’, and expect our partner to accept that. We demand more from our relationships now, and our partners are saying ‘step up, or I’m stepping out’.  If you’re not prepared to step up then don’t be surprised if your partner decides to step out.

If you would like to know more, or would like to book a free consultation to find out how you can re-ignite your relationship, please click here or contact Matt on 0416 211 424, or email matt@happyandhealthyrelationships.com

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