Have you ever been in a relationship but felt alienated, alone, or forgotten? Ever wonder about how your mindset impacts why you feel lonely?
Derrick and Beau are just beginning their relationship. Beau has been in fewer relationships than Derrick and he feels like this one will be just like the others and he will end up feeling alone.
So, let’s take a look at how Beau interacts with the world and see if this relationship can be different, by changing his mindset, so Beau can manifest the perfect relationship.
Why Does It Have To Be All or Nothing?
Derrick explains that when they fight, Beau usually threatens him by saying “he wants to end the relationship”. Derrick knows Beau doesn’t want this but doesn’t know how to keep him from going to this extreme. Beau also admits feeling he would rather be the one to end a relationship, and needs to feel in control of his world. Setting realistic goals and developing solid communication tools are the best ways to prevent this from happening.
Developing communication tools, just like the tools you use in a toolkit, are great ways to deal with life’s challenges without completely giving up. You would not want to use a broken hammer or a drill with a broken bit to work on your home. The same is true when you are working on your relationship. All your tools need to be sharpened and in good order to have the best chance to succeed in your relationship.
Beau is starting this process by making new agreements with Derrick about how he will be in the relationship. Beau will stop proposing breaking up until they have discussed at least three ideas on how to fix where they are stuck in the relationship. Not only will this lower the stress for both of them, but it also provides opportunities to work on communication and learn from one another. As they learn about each other more, they also learn how to better connect and talk through these challenging and stressful moments in their relationship.
Mental Filtering Flushes Out the Positive
Derrick admits to focusing on the negative way too much. He explains he knows that every negative comment should be matched or exceeded with more positive ones, but for some reason, he finds it very difficult to do. He feels like this is easier said than done. Because of his past programming, Derrick is mental filtering out most of the positive reinforcement and feedback and highlighting more negative thoughts and feelings towards Beau.
To avoid this situation, Derrick agreed to take some time at the end of the day to focus on gratitude and what went right with his day. What was one thing he could think about and be grateful for that went well during his day? Did someone show you kindness? Did someone give you a compliment? How did you feel?
They say that giving is receiving. You can make a goal to provide at least one genuine compliment or do a kind act to someone every day. It’s amazing how putting positivity into the world sets you up with a mindset of looking for, and receiving, the little gifts throughout the day. Beau can help by taking part in the evening where they share and focus on gratitude, ending their day with a positive feeling about their day and creating optimism for the next day.
Jumping to Conclusions: Mind-Reading and Fortune-Telling
Derrick admits that he is not very optimistic about the future because he has not healed the failures of his past relationships. He recognizes the past often comes back to haunt him. Beau explains that Derrick has difficulty expressing his concerns and feels vulnerable. Derrick laughs that sometimes he’ll have complete conversations with Beau, including guessing the outcome all in his head. He then feels he doesn’t need to talk to Beau because he knows the result. Beau admits when they finally speak, Derrick is wrong about the outcome.
Fortune telling wipes away too many opportunities for happiness. When Derrick finds himself speaking for Beau in his head, he should go ahead and ask Beau a genuine question. As Derrick becomes more comfortable with the ebb and flow of this communication, bringing up issues will become less stressful. No more mind-reading.
Magnification (Catastrophizing and Minimizing)
Beau does admit he can minimize issues and Derrick’s amplified focus on the negative creates a difficult dynamic between them. Think of love as a microscope. If they over magnify things, they become distorted and they can’t see the entire picture. If they minimize too much, they lose intricate details and even and major warning signs.
It’s about Beau and Derrick taking hold of the magnifier, focusing it, and getting a realistic view of their entire relationship. Sometimes they need to magnify things; other times they need to skip over the small stuff. Regular relationship wellness checkup can help Beau and Derrick fix this part of their relationship and provide essential maintenance moving forward.
“Should / Must” Statements Eliminate Potential
When Beau was talking to a friend about their relationship, he thought his friend and his friend’s partner were able to share easier than he and Derrick. He couldn’t initially figure out why, though.
The “shoulds” and “musts” could be potentially cut in half. Beau worries about whether they should be comparing this relationship with their prior relationships. But it’s not about what Beau and Derrick must and should do, but what’s going on in this very moment. The best cure for the should’s and must’s is mindfulness. Rather than focus on the goals, Beau can benefit from focusing on the here and now to see their relationship rather than compare it to others.
Personalizing Hands Us Unnecessary Baggage
Derrick barks a response to Beau when he asks about dinner. Beau assumes Derrick is mad at him and shuts down. Maybe Derrick didn’t eat lunch and is what Beau calls “hangry,” a combo of hungry and angry. Perhaps Derrick had a bad work day.
What’s really happening here? Beau needs to stop picking up Derrick’s baggage and make it his own. As with most sticky situations, a question can resolve concerns. Beau genuinely asking Derrick if he is okay will not only help him understand Derrick’s source of frustration, it helps Derrick feel supported. Then Beau can truly help Derrick when he’s not absorbing Derrick’s “hangriness.”
While negative mindsets can stand as a barrier to contentment, being aware of these mindsets and finding solutions helps put partners back in control. For Beau and Derrick, mindfulness and clear communication can help build trust and give way to enjoy the little moments more fully.
Did you know that each of the four communication styles (Connector, Sensualist, Referee, and Guardian) has its own challenges to overcome?
Relationships are harder when you and your partner have different communication challenges, and you’re taking it out on one another unconsciously. We built this quiz to help you figure out your Communication Style.
Take the quiz, and forward this article to someone you care about.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org