Where you felt totally secure in the knowledge that he loves you, totally sure he appreciates you, and feeling that cozy warmth inside because all your needs for love and romance are being met by him?
Or does that seem like a dream? A fantasy? Here’s a way to help that dream turn real – a way of looking at everything that shows up, no matter how your first reaction is to it – as something that’s “Not About Me.”
Julia, wrote me:
“Dear Rori – when my boyfriend asks me to do stuff for him, I just feel so resentful. I think about what he does and doesn’t do for ME (and I’m never happy with my answer to myself), and then I just get confused and don’t know what to do.
I’m afraid of saying Yes and being a doormat, and just paying for stuff when he’s “tight” – or running over there with beer or pizza to sit and watch “the basketball game” with him, and him thinking I’m “easy.”
And I’m also afraid of saying No and looking selfish and all about myself, and him thinking I’m not a good girlfriend for not doing stuff for him.
I worry that he’ll think I don’t love him if I don’t take every opportunity he presents to let him know I really care for him.
What’s the right thing to do? Thanks, Julia”
This is a great question, and I don’t know a single woman, including myself, who doesn’t run into this. Sometimes once in a while, and sometimes ALL the time.
So – how can you tell the difference between a genuine request that you can put yourself out to do that will ADD TO and DEEPEN your relationship – without making you feel like he has to do something in return to make it okay - and just a “beer run” that you can pass on without feeling bad you said NO to.
How can you tell the difference between a genuine request for your company and a “beer” or “booty” call?
When is it okay to go over to his house (almost never) and when is it overfunctioning and leaning forward (almost all the time)?
This can be really complex, and often we women do “numbers” on ourselves with the smallest thing – and so here’s a small old story of my own (see how it would work in a more emotionally loaded situation) – I’ll tell it as though it’s happening right now:
My husband has a cold, he’s acting miserable, and he tells me he wants to order himself dinner online from a nearby restaurant that doesn’t deliver – and we wants ME, who also has a cold, too, though I’m a few days ahead of him in recovery and feeling better than he is, to pick it up for him.
Now, I’m all comfy in my “getting over my own cold and curled up on the couch reading” gear.
My first reaction is shock. Dismay. Then anger – the thought that “This is absolutely ridiculous – there are a bunch of restaurants he likes all around us that DO deliver – why’d he have to have THIS one?” Or – “I could cook something, or he could open a can of soup, or…”
And then – “WHAT exactly, does he mean by asking ME to get in the car, drive, park in the 6 story lot, walk a block and a half, pick up the food, walk back to my car and come home to present it to him?” And then all kinds of things go through my brain.
“This is a test,” I think..
“If I really love him, I’ll do this for him,” I think.
“He needs to know that I really love him, so he set this up to test me,” I think.
I ask myself, “What would I do if this was a girlfriend asking me for this favor?”
I start going back over the scorecard for my entire relationship with him – what he does for me and what I do for him.
Oh…and then the “poor him” stuff comes up inside me, imagining or actually looking at his miserable self all ready to lay on the couch for the basketball game, just waiting for me to bring him dinner.
The EXACT and ONLY dinner he wants, that will require me going OUT, alone, to get it.
Now, of course he’s asking ME – I’m the one there, I have the label “wife” …and yet I get letters and hear from women all the time who have the label “girlfriend” who are at their own home when their man calls, asking for this exact favor – to get up, get dressed, drive somewhere to pick something up and deliver it to him – and then when they get there he’s zoned out in front of the TV while she just sits there wondering why she did this thing.
And perhaps, too, this is a big part of the confusion, here, if this has ever happened, or you’ve ever considered, doing this – you’re thinking this might be a GREAT opportunity to get closer to him, that he’s actually ASKING YOU OVER to BE with him, or if you’re already sitting there with him watching the game – that it would be good to be so “nice” – such a GOOD girlfriend or wife – and that he’ll finally be so appreciative and cozy when you get back there with the food – except you remember that last time you did something like this he just ignored you.
And you know, deep inside – you can feel it – that you don’t want to be an errand-runner. You’d like to be with him, but you don’t want to be an errand-runner.
And you’re angry that you’ve been put in this position, to either disappoint him and put yourself first because as much as you love him, you’re all cozy and tired at home and and say “No,” or chance being hugely disappointed yourself because what you really want is to be with him, and you’re worried about the outcome of the evening if you DO go over there.
In this moment, I want you to realize something…just as, in the moments when my brain went through all that processing I just described I finally got to the Truth (I know this will absolutely help you understand a man).
I want you to know, just as it hits me in this moment while I’m starting at my husband trying to figure out what to do - that no matter what situation you’re in – this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with YOU.
Standing there, looking at my husband, I get it in a flash – this has nothing to do with ME.
He just wants this particular food at this particular moment, and he asked the first person he saw or thought of to go get it for him – me.
It’s a buddy “beer run.” A hop to the liquor store for ice. He just wants what he wants. He’s uncomfortable, he’s not thinking about me at all, he just wants…what he wants. And so he asks. And…it’s okay for him to ask, because…It’s a guy thing.
He just wants what he wants, and it has nothing to do with me, or with you – except for HOW WE HANDLE THIS.
Now – here’s what you may have been doing in this kind of situation -
Perhaps he’s asked you to drive over to see him because he’s “tired.” Perhaps he’s asked you to “pay” for something because he’s “tight” this week. Maybe he’s tense and he wants sex. Any number of things – let me know what kind of things you’ve experienced…
You may be so conflicted, so concerned with not being a doormat or an errand runner or succumbing to a “booty call,” and yet so afraid to say “No” – that the biggest emotion that shows up for you is anger and irritation.
And so – that anger and irritation is what comes up and what most likely gets expressed – if not in your WORDS, then in your body language and your “vibe.”
You may do something like this (all this is going through my brain at that moment…but I let it flow through me and don’t speak any of it):
Try to talk him out of it – “How ’bout that nice barbecue place down the street we love – THEY deliver?”
Or make another offer – “How ’bout I make you something…” (and here you add your worry that he prefers the restaurant to your cooking – or that this is just another “doormatty” thing to be doing…)
Or – “How ’bout we go together and eat there?” (and think “How come you didn’t think of that in the first place?”)
Or let your anger out with – “How could you ask me to do that – can’t you see I’m tired too?”
Or “That’s such an immature choice – to choose the one restaurant that doesn’t deliver when it’s so late and I’m already all comfy and cozy…”
And – you probably know how THAT works.
All of a sudden, where HE was talking about food and a simple “run” – now WE’RE talking about what’s WRONG with him, talking about how bad he is to even ASK us, talking about the RELATIONSHIP, making suggestions…and things just go downhill from there.
Or, you take the opposite tack, and go for the being “nice,” being the “good girlfriend” – I mean, he is sick, and you’re sort of “on your feet…”
So, you say “Sure,” and get in the car and bring him back his food, and then…
…HE DOESN’T BEHAVE THE WAY YOU WANT HIM TO.
Instead of being undyingly grateful to you and saying how much he appreciates you, and hugging you and being all lovey-dovey and sweet…and “OWING-you-one”…he says a quick “Thanks,” then starts eating without so much as offering you ANYTHING, even a seat next to him, and focuses entirely on the basketball game.
And then, of course, he can feel the tension and upset in your body, or you say something like “Are you just going to ignore me completely? Why did I even do this for you?”
And then, we’re off to the relationship downhill races again.
This is all about EFFORT.
And the Rule of Minimal Effort (It’s in my Targeting Mr. Right program) is that – The anger and resentment you feel is directly proportionate to the effort you’re putting out.
So – what to do?
Try this – Shift Your Attitude. Shift the way you SEE this whole thing.
Tell yourself “It’s Not About ME.”
Ask yourself if you want to do this thing for him or not.
Tell yourself the Truth.
Think about the Rori Raye Playbook and if this kind of thing makes sense or if you’re once more going the OVERGIVING route, or if you’re going the opposite way – the “deeply offended you even asked” route.
If you really don’t want to go except for the chance of an opportunity to “get closer” to him, and you’re really not buying that he’s all that sick, and you don’t feel good about it because of where your relationship is at right now, and you’re not sure what you’d do if this was a girlfriend (you could ask yourself “What would Carrie from Sex and the City do),” and if you’ve been Overfunctioning all along in this relationship, and if your gut tells you “No” – then say “No.”
Say…”Ohhh, I don’t really feel like going out right now. I’m sorry. ”
(Notice you’re not making suggestions for him, like suggesting he pick a restaurant that delivers – and also notice it’s OKAY to say you’re “sorry” for disappointing him by saying “No.” That’s having compassion for his situation, WITHOUT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT.)
And then what will happen?
Here’s what happened for me:
I said…”Oh, crap, I really feel bad, I’d like to do this for you, and I just don’t feel like doing the errand. Is there anything else I can do without going out alone?”
And my sick husband said, “No, it’s okay,” got up, put on some clothes, grabbed his keys and started out to get the food himself!
And here I’d thought he hadn’t even ORDERED it yet!
And, well, you can guess what came up – now I felt selfish, and guilty, and bad.
And I wanted to share that.
I wanted to say, “I didn’t know you’d already ordered, and now I feel selfish and guilty and bad.”
And then I realized this wasn’t ABOUT me.
So – for you – if you’ve discovered that you tend to be at a man’s beck-and-call, that you actually have an almost desperate need for affection from him and so would take ANY opportunity to do something for him that might get you closer to him – stand back and realize – this isn’t ABOUT YOU.
It’s not about you, and it’s not about the relationship. It just feels like it is.
Because we’re all so emotionally complex as women, we think a man is, too. But he’s not. It wasn’t about me.
It was about the FOOD.
More on this, what happened, the emotions, how to clear this kind of subtle battle between overfunctioning on the one hand and coldness on the other from your mind and heart while still telling the truth.
And Julia – just getting clear with the truth of what’s going on will get you everywhere…