For awhile, it felt like I was constantly bending over backward to do nice things for my boyfriend while he neglected to return the favor. I felt totally unloved and didn’t know what to do about it. I decided to employ a little reverse psychology and focus on showing him what I needed instead of expecting him to figure it out himself and frankly, I should’ve tried it sooner.
I was frustrated because I felt totally underappreciated. I give 110% in relationships because I’m very much an all or nothing type of woman but I started to feel underappreciated because my boyfriend never seemed to reciprocate my gestures. It hurt my feelings and made me feel like he wasn’t as invested in our relationship as I was. To make matters worse, I didn’t really advocate for myself either. I didn’t want to come across as needy so I suffered in silence for too long.
I became super passive-aggressive. Not speaking up for myself made me resentful and kind of spiteful. I continued to do things for him but they were laced with frustration. For example, I’d make him dinner and when he thanked me, I’d respond with a snarky comment like, “Yep, I’m always doing things for you, aren’t I?” Looking back, I said these things because I was hurt. I wanted appreciation but I was absolutely unforgiving if I didn’t receive it the way I preferred. It made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right, including accepting something from me.
I eventually decided to properly communicate my frustrations with him. I’d forgotten the importance of actually voicing my needs in the relationship. I expected him to read my mind and just know what I wanted without me having to say a word. Opening up about what was going on helped him understand why I was being such a bitch and gave him a chance to improve. Why had it taken me so long to speak up?
I tried focusing on doing nice things for him without expecting anything in return. Being less passive-aggressive meant letting go of my expectation that every single thing I did for my boyfriend was met with an immediate and proportionate reciprocal action. He did nice things for me, sure, but I was admittedly putting weird pressure on him and building tension between us. I expect to be treated well by my guy but I decided to shift my focus from what I wasn’t receiving toward doing more good things for him because they made me feel good too.
I started doing the things that I wanted him to do for me. I figured that if I showed him how to be thoughtful by doing it myself, he might actually pick up on a few things. I’d buy him coffee when he least expected it or bring him lunch when he was having a busy day. If he was stressed, I’d find out what he needed to help ease his stress and I’d deliver it to him. I’d pick him up a book he was thinking about buying or get us tickets to a concert for a band he was raving about being in town. By doing these little things, I figured he might get the hint that I wasn’t expecting grand gestures, just a little thoughtfulness.
He started reciprocating more and it was so nice. Oddly enough, putting my energy into making more sweet gestures and cutting out the constant complaining worked wonders for my relationship. The pressure that my passive-aggressiveness put on our relationship fell away and my sweet gestures stood out. As a result, he recognized how much I was doing for him and started to reciprocate in all the ways I wanted and more. He started buying me coffee and helping me de-stress by bringing me my favorite foods or whipping me up a snack while I was busy working at night. He put gas in my car without me asking. He just started to show up so much more.
Now we enjoy doing nice things for each other without expectations. Now our dynamic is much better. We do nice things for each other all of the time without keeping tabs on who made the bigger gesturer this day or that week. We focus on doing things to express our love to one another just because we want to. They might be big or small gestures but the most important thing is that they bring us happiness.
Sometimes you have to lead by example. This is everything. I could tell him how I wanted to be treated but it was actually doing it myself that really got through to him. He realized how much effort I was putting in just to make him happy and it made him want to return the gesture.
Sour attitudes always push people away. The biggest take away though is that having a bad attitude can really put a damper on your relationship dynamic. It’s important to be fair! Also, don’t be afraid to do a little reverse psychology—it can go a long way!
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