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How Your Identity Can Feel Threatened In a Relationship

It can feel as if you're losing your identity in a relationship. And so any fight can feel like a fight for your life. Here's how to defuse the tendency for little fights to turn big. Read More

While I agree for the most

While I agree for the most part, this assumes that both partners are vested in an equal partnership and have a shared goal of honest communication and self realization. Should one (or both) partners have unresolved issues, issues such as narcissism, addictions or other undiagnosed mental illness, it behooves each person to keep a balance of their needs as well as their partner's. I have seen numerous relationships where one partner regularly questions themselves and works toward compromise, while the other is often the "taker" or manipulates to get their way.

"The tendency to fight to be

"The tendency to fight to be heard as an individual can also be an opportunity to deepen communication as you articulate to your partner what is going on for you when your disagreements become heightened. "

Okay ... here's what I've observed, more than any other relational pattern in society.

MEN do this. They do it when they feel like their so-called "precious freedom" is being threatened by some sort of minimal compromise they might have to make in order for a relationship that benefits both parties to go forward.

So I really, really, REALLY hope that these pearls of wisdom are being widely and forcefully broadcast & articulated to the MEN the author of this article encounters in his/her practice and on his/her speech tours.

Otherwise -- since relationships involve TWO people -- there's really no point.

So true.

Thanks for pointing this out.

As much as I appreciate the

As much as I appreciate the thanks, I'd appreciate it much more -- especially from those holding themselves out as mental health professionals (and really especially from those in NYC, where I also live, so I have an on-the-ground sense of how direly it's needed) -- if there were a stated, tangible commitment to taking the action described.

Especially if you think it's "so true".

After all ... that's what you require from us, as your clients/listeners/audience, isn't it??

Okay, while I agree with you

Okay, while I agree with you that men do tend to exert their independence more than women, its important to note that we shouldn't blame the men completely for this. A lot of the times men do this as a reaction to women nagging or asking too much of them or just being downright bossy. I'm not saying that going all "I will never compromise" is a logical or healthy reaction to being nagged, but it can often be prevented with one's partner simply laying off the bossiness or the demands for a while. After all, even men want their partner's to be happy in a relationship & want to do nice things. However, when they feel they don't get to choose for themselves to do those nice things & make those compromises is when problems occur. Heck, I'm a woman & I still will do the complete opposite of what someone tells me if I feel that they are being overly demanding or insensitive to my wants as well!

"Okay, while I agree with you

"Okay, while I agree with you that men do tend to exert their independence
more than women, its important to note that we shouldn't blame the men
completely for this."

And nobody is doing all that.

I do think it's interesting that you'd categorize a simple, respectful request - especially one that the man agreed to and also which continues to go unfulfilled - as a "nag" or a "demand".

Says a lot about whose point of view you identify with -- there are plenty of male-identified women who make excuses for men's failures ... which is why so many men continue not to "do their half" in relationships (which is kind of my point).

They figure "Why should I have to do my full half, when there are women out there who will let me get away with less?"

I have to say I use to have

I have to say I use to have the same view point. I can tell you post divorce and after a year of introspection, I learned a lot about myself and how my own insecurities manifested themselves in my 12 yr marriage. It was this type of critical thinking which I credit to my own personal growth in terms of attacking my own weaknesses and accepting faults in others in a non judgemental way. I by no means am saying that the collapse of my marriage was all my fault, just that in the end it really didn't matter what she did or didn't do. It is very easy to point at a partner and assign blame for our own unhappiness. So I decided to replace the "me or you" with "I" statements. For example: Instead of why are you do this to me, to why or how do I put myself in the situation. Just that simple change took me from a victim mentality, to one of self growth. That gave me personal responsibilty for my own emotions. As a result, I learned that you cannot control your partner's actions nor reactions. All one can do is control ones self and how we react to things. If your partner is not meeting your emotional needs and/or does things that upset you, you have two choices. You leave or tell them in a respectful and in a encouringing manner. Too often when in the heat of battle things are said in a retalitory or negative tone. An automatic response is to becomes defensive and most times you doesn't hear the message anyway. That solves nothing, nor fosters a positive channel for communication. It all comes down to POV, and how the other person recieves the message. I may say something one way, but your tone, body language, and the other person's past experiences may lead to a different interpretation of the message. Just to be clear I am not being accusitory, I am just stating my humble opinion of what I feel and how I resolved my internal conflicts I did not even know I exisited.

I agree that a relationship

I agree that a relationship takes compromise, but it also takes accepting who someone is. General rule I use: compromise on your actions because those affect others, never compromise on who you are. In the example about watching football rather than spending time with ones partner, this would mean choosing to make up for that time lost on football by doing something fun later or to teach your partner about football or agree to do something they like as soon as the game is over. But if you're a football fan, you shouldn't have to stop being a football fan just because your partner wants to go on a walk at that moment. After all, shouldn't your partner also try to enjoy your hobbies, if only to better understand you? At least for me, I have experience with this specific example because I hated watching sports, but my partner is a huge football fan and wanted to watch every game. At first I was annoyed and wished we could go do things instead, but rather than try to stifle someone's passions it just made more sense to try to understand them. Now we watch football together all the time and I hate to admit I was wrong, but I really enjoy the games & get super into it! Even if it wasn't my passion to begin with, I can still respect that it can be someone else's & I should support that (as long as it isn't harming anyone else). It would only cause resentment, which is toxic to any relationship, if we didn't let our partners be their own, independent and sometimes annoying selves :)

Now this is someone who gets it...

"compromise on your actions because those affect others, never compromise on who you are"

"After all, shouldn't your partner also try to enjoy your hobbies, if only to better understand you?"

"At first I was annoyed and wished we could go do things instead, but rather than try to stifle someone's passions it just made more sense to try to understand them. Now we watch football together all the time and I hate to admit I was wrong, but I really enjoy the games & get super into it"

As long as your partner does the same for you then you guys will make it.

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Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in NYC specializing in psychotherapy.

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