Wouldn’t it be great if people had greater respect for your boundaries?
Jim recently took our Communication Style quiz and found his style is that of the “The Connector,” meaning he is highly perceptive of the needs and emotions of others — almost to a fault.
He’s a people-pleaser, which has been getting him into trouble. Too often, he ignores his own needs to make sure others are happy.
Jim is now in a relationship with Filipe, and he would like Filipe to be more perceptive of his needs.
How can Jim ensure he is not compromising his own values for the sake of others?
If you’re a people-pleaser yourself, you can probably relate to Jim’s predicament.
What’s Wrong with Being a People-Pleaser?
Healthy relationships are all about mutual give and take. When one partner does all the giving, they become exhausted, leading to resentment and discord.
In past relationships, Jim would put relationship problems on the backburner, hoping the situations would improve by themselves. Of course, they did not.
With Felipe, Jim is beginning with a blank slate, an opportunity to establish new boundaries. This time, rather than waiting for Felipe to change, Jim can identify any issues and direct Felipe to change. He is in control — not in limbo.
What’s the Difference Between Compromise and Unhealthy Boundaries?
Jim devalued his principles in his past relationships, so he simply doesn’t know what healthy compromise looks like. Compromise involves both partners having a discussion with enough give-and-take to reach a mutual consensus.
Jim and Felipe need to be able to identify issues and determine how to meet each other’s needs. It’s difficult to set boundaries and not give in when things get heated, but with practice, Jim can learn how to focus on the outcome without undermining his values.
What Are the Warning Signs I’m Giving Up Too Much?
Jim recalls past relationships where he would feel nauseous after a heated discussion with his partner, mostly because he had walked away from it having completely given in. He often felt worthless — as though he had no voice.
This is a perfect example of a physical warning sign, a way for our body to let us know we’re in trouble. It can best be described as an icky feeling you get when, deep down, you know you are compromising your values. It’s a protective signal going off, a little bird on your shoulder tweeting, “No, no, no!” Jim needs to listen to his gut and act on those feelings.
What If the Relationship Ends?
Felipe admits there are times he feels like Jim is scared to fight for his values — as if he wants to assert himself but is afraid Felipe will end their relationship. Jim must ask himself, “Is any relationship worth remaining silent and foregoing my needs?”
It is time for Jim to start taking ownership of his values and bringing them to the forefront of discussions.
Felipe says there are times when he gives in because the topic of discussion doesn’t feel like it’s worth fighting for. On the other hand, Jim has difficulty knowing when to give in and when to push forward. He also says he finds it hard to verbalize his values.
It takes bravery to express your values, especially when they are under attack. You may also fear the other person seeing you as “being difficult.”
What’s the Big Lesson Here?
Jim is used to feeling like a pushover. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to say he should stand up for himself. Fundamentally, this is only a small piece of a much bigger problem.
Having seen over two-thousand gay and lesbian individuals at our counseling clinics, we’ve learned a thing or two about “Connectors” and people-pleasers.
Yes, Jim needs to be reminded of his own self-worth. More importantly, he needs to choose his battles.
Will this argument with Felipe really matter within the grand scheme of things?
A year from now, will they look back on this conflict as a pivotal moment in their relationship?
The more confident “Connectors” can become about expressing their values, the easier they will find it to articulate them clearly, concisely, and free of doubt.
Can you relate to what Jim and Felipe are going through? Your preferred communication style may be that of “The Connector” like Jim.
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