“I’m not going to forgive you if you don’t make me pizza for dinner.”
Last week, my 5-year-old son conveyed this line convincingly to me. He’s normally cuddly, cruisy, and all-around cute. However, he has lately begun to play with power dynamics. He also enjoys pie. Then he drew the most powerful tool in his arsenal: the weapon of withholding passion.
This didn’t worry me because he was just five. I kept my cool. In reality, I had to fight the urge to laugh at him.
When it’s a five-year-old pulling a power grab or attempting verbal blackmail for size, it’s simple to remain cool. You do believe they adore you. You know they don’t believe what they’re doing right now. And it’s (usually) simple to respond with a strong yet caring answer informing them that what they just said is not acceptable.
It’s a different matter when someone you’re dating (or married to) pulls an adult version of the same stunt.
For instance, it’s far more difficult to find out what’s going on. Is that because they’re exhausted and preoccupied, or because you’re having the silent treatment? Is that because you’re nervous and needy, or that they’re being passive-aggressive? Are they pointing out real problems that you should be mindful of and address, or are they accusing you of anything to divert focus to stop dealing with their issues?
Yes, really. It may all get very perplexing. And even though you realize what’s going on and believe they’re acting inappropriately, it’s impossible to know what to suggest or do about it.
I wrote an in-depth article a few weeks ago on how to identify some of the most frequent and damaging power plays in long-distance relationships. We spoke about stonewalling, ghosting, giving up, inciting envy, accusing, bullying, and a variety of other topics.
This week, I’d like to speak about ways you can defend yourself against these types of power exercises being a major issue in your partnership.
Does that make sense? OK, here are seven wise moves to defend yourself from power plays.
1. Learn About the Most Common Power Dynamics in Partnerships
If you haven’t already, go read the story, which delves into the most prevalent power dynamics in long-distance relationships.
Why is this so?
And if you think of this stuff ahead of time, you’ll have a lot higher chance of understanding a power move if it occurs to you.
And if you can understand it as a power move, you’ll be less tempted to justify and accept the action. You’ll be more able to defend themselves and advise them (nicely) to quit behaving like a jerk.
2. Keep in Mind How Important You are
And when we’re on the subject of speaking up for ourselves… Remember that YOU ARE PRICELESS.
You are deserving of affection and appreciation.
Reminding yourself of these realities will assist you in setting appropriate limits in your partnership.
Whether somebody you’re in a long-distance partnership with is playing power tricks on you or otherwise not treating you properly regularly, they’re not valuing you as much as they should. They do not value you in a manner that would result in a good, balanced partnership. In that scenario, you can trust yourself and give it careful thought…
3. Be Ready to Move Free
Must be willing to end a dating arrangement if anyone does not treat you well.
It is not worth it to be in a relationship with someone who does not show you love and appreciation. Staying in a relationship when you are afraid of being single is not a good reason to continue. DO NOT Linger When YOU THINK YOU CAN’T Survive WITHOUT THEM. You WILL do it. In the long term, you Would be well off.
4. Speak Up
Talk up if you see a power play. If you ignore it, it would most definitely happen again. And if it occurs repeatedly, it can become a habit in your partnership rather than a once-and-a-while occurrence.
So say something. Inform them that you do not understand what they are doing. Tell us how it makes you feel.
For example, “I feel like you shut down, quit communicating, and drive me away if I say anything you don’t like.” When things get tough, I can’t reach out to hug you because we’re in a long-distance partnership. We do have words right now. I’m angry and nervous when you go quiet without asking me why or what’s going on within your mind. I know it can be difficult to chat at times, so could you tell me how you’re feeling and let me know if you need more time so we can talk about it later?”
5. Don’t Edit Yourself When You’re Afraid of Getting a Response
We all censor ourselves from time to time… because we should! Not every impression we have or every emotion we experience deserves to be heard. However, I’m not talking about simple common-sense censorship (along the lines of “that’s not a smart/helpful thing to say”).
What I’m referring to is the kind of censoring in which you want to say something but hold yourself back because you’re afraid of upsetting your spouse. It’s not doing anything you thought you can tell but are afraid you’ll “set them off.”
When you notice yourself feeling this way, express it. It may result in certain awkward moments, but these are the kinds of moments that may contribute to deeper intimacy. And if you ever set them off, so be it [shrug]. You’ll hear how they, and you, deal with confrontation.
6. Maintain the Attention on The Key Point
A typical power tactic in partnerships is to attempt to change the emphasis of an awkward conversation and shift the “blame” for something back onto your spouse. For eg, if you mention that you’re unhappy with those conversations you’ve seen them have with someone on social media, they might start complaining about how you never seem to be around when they want to speak (the subtext of this distraction, of course, is that you’re not “meeting their needs.”
When this occurs, it’s possible to be carried up by the sidetrack and catch yourself defending yourself or complaining over anything entirely unrelated to what you set out to discuss. This is a game of influence.
To shield yourself from this power exercise, accept that there are additional legitimate concerns to address and let them know you’re able to return to those issues later, but still respectfully explain that you’d prefer to concentrate on the original problem for the time being.
7. Be Courageous
These are trying times in every partnership. It’s never easy to be angry, damaged, or flustered by somebody you care for. It’s never easy to have to “face up” to someone you care for to tell them you don’t appreciate how they’re handling you right now. But don’t be afraid.
You’ve got this. Because of your integrity, the friendship will develop stronger and deeper (or it might die, but if it does, you’ll be better off in the long run, believe me.) They would admire your courage and integrity (even though they don’t like it at the time.)
Remember, if you don’t speak out, the power moves aren’t going anywhere. In reality, they’re far more likely to start appearing more often.
So take a deep breath and relax. Try to be quiet. Also, speak up for yourself.