Everyone loves to love or hate a good unpopular opinion, right? Today, I’ll share five of my unpopular opinions as a relationship coach.
If you’ve been around for a while, you might have heard some of these before. If not, buckle up! And obviously, I think it goes without saying, I don’t expect you to agree with all of these. It’s okay for us to disagree and have different opinions on certain topics.
I’m a huge fan of “take what you like and leave the rest!”
Let’s dive in.
1. There is TOO MUCH emphasis on communication
Okay, let’s just get this one out of the way because it’s my biggest pet peeve/unpopular opinion. So many couples need to STOP communicating so damn much and start working on themselves.
Everyone keeps saying that communication is the most important thing in any relationship and that you must talk to each other about everything and that all they want from a partner is to be able to talk about things because… you guessed it! Communication is “soooo important.”
I know I’m going a bit hard on communication here haha, but I think this whole communication boom that has been going on for the past 10 years is a reaction to what came before it. And I get that. I’m sure that in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, a huge problem among couples was that they didn’t communicate.
But now it has gone too far in the opposite direction. In my opinion.
If you are a grumpy girlfriend struggling with jealousy, anxiety, and grumpiness… that is coming from your thoughts. Not from your partner’s behavior. You can communicate with them and share your feelings and tell them what you would like from them until the end of your days, and it’s still not going to change what you are thinking and feeling.
Talking about your feelings might give you temporary relief, but it’s not going to do anything to affect your triggers or your habitual thought patterns in the long run. You’ll just keep getting triggered and need to “communicate with your partner about it” more and more and more until you’re both sick of it.
As long as you think your feelings are coming from your partner’s behavior or that the solution to your unmanaged mind/uncomfortable emotions is either telling your partner about them or getting your partner to change, you’re mistaken.
Yes, communication is a fabulous way to connect with your partner and share with them. But when your problems are being created by your own thoughts you need to take responsibility for changing those thoughts if you want the problem to be solved.
2. It only takes ONE person to change
For some reason, we humans love setting up obstacles between where we are today and our own happiness. It’s like we hate letting it be easy. It needs to be complicated, fair, and difficult. And one of those obstacles is thinking that your partner needs to put in the same amount of effort in changing/improving your relationship as you do.
I believe that it only takes one person to change a relationship, and that person can be you. How you think, feel, and most importantly — show up in your relationship will determine what kind of relationship you have.
“But Katrin, I can’t control my partner by just managing how I show up in the relationship, and my partner is a part of the problem.”
Aha! That’s the problem right there. You think your problems in the relationship are coming from your partner and what they are/aren’t doing. You think you need to control or change your partner in order for the relationship to be better. But that’s not true.
Whatever you view as a problem is a choice. You are choosing what is a problem and what is not. And then you act accordingly. I believe that if you do everything in your power to change and improve your relationship with your partner, one of two things is going to happen:
- Your relationship improves. Hooray!
- You have done everything in your power to be happy with this person and you might realize that this is not the person you want to be with. Kinda hooray!
The person who you are with, as they are, is the person you are with. Please don’t spend your relationship cheating on your partner with “their potential.” Accept them for who they are and do what you can to enjoy your relationship with them. If you don’t want to enjoy your relationship with who they are, you need to face that truth.
Yes, it’s lovely if you share your interest in relationship improvement with your partner. But you need to realize that your partner might not have as many problems with the relationship as you do, so why should they be working as hard? It’s a privilege to have the power to improve a relationship by working on yourself. Don’t water down your power by “needing” your partner to participate.
3. Relationships are easy when you’re good at letting things go
If needed, I want to start by pointing out that this unpopular opinion refers to good relationships with good partners who love and respect each other and treat each other well. I’m not suggesting you let abusive, harmful behaviors “go” just to make your life “easier.”
But seriously. Y’all need to start letting things go. And this is as much to you guys as it is to me 4 years ago. I was so grumpy and held grudges for so long. The smallest thing would annoy me and I would refuse to let my partner “get away with it.” The irony was that I was the one who suffered from it. Not my partner. I was punishing myself by holding on to these grudges and injustices in my relationship.
If your partner leaves socks on the floor, let it go. Either move them yourself or let them be. Put them somewhere. I don’t care. Just deal with it and then let it go.
If your partner didn’t clean the sink after filling the dishwasher, let it go. Either ask them to do it, do it yourself, or let it be. Just deal with it and then let it go.
If your partner forgets to tell you that they have plans or their plans were canceled, let it go. If you prefer that they keep you informed, I’m pretty sure your partner knows about that by now and they probably just forgot. You found out about it eventually, so just let it go.
I know how unfair and horrible this sounds. I know you want to point out all the bad things they do and make sure they know you’re not okay with it… because god forbid they keep doing it!!! But if you get good at letting things go and your relationship overall is good, we don’t have a problem here.
My guess is that you’re so focused on everything they’re doing wrong that you’re missing all the things they’re doing right. And speaking from experience, I’m pretty sure your partner has some opinions about the way you do things too… and sure, they might point them out every now and then. But the person who is holding on to the issue and is grumping about it is the one suffering. Not the other person.
4. A lot of “empowering” advice is actually disempowering
Here are some examples:
“Don’t accept this behavior from your partner, you need to tell them that it’s not okay.” You know… you are allowed to “not accept” their behavior if that’s what you want. But that doesn’t mean they have to change it. You are not their mom. It’s not your job to correct, punish, or raise your partner. So when you don’t accept a certain behavior, it’s your job to act accordingly. It’s not your partner’s job to change.
Disempowering because: You’re trying to change another person. You have no power over them. It’s better to focus on the things you can control (your thoughts, feelings, actions).
“You need to tell them how you feel.” And the second part of this sentence that is always implied is “because if they know how you feel, they will change and/or apologize.” Sometimes, that might be true. Especially if you have reacted to something they did in a way they didn’t mean it. This is perfectly normal. But for a lot of grumpy girlfriends, “telling their partners how they feel” becomes a way of manipulating them to change their behavior… when in reality, how the girlfriend feels is coming from her own brain!
Disempowering because: Well, same as above. You’re trying to change them in order to feel better, which means you’re meddling around in things you can’t and shouldn’t control and you’re completely ignoring what you can control (your thoughts, feelings, actions).
“You should communicate clearly so they understand your needs.” Ah yes, give your partner an instruction manual to follow to make sure your needs are met. This is a great idea… if you want to put your emotional life in the hands of another person who is incapable of managing your emotions for you.
Disempowering because: You’re putting your feelings in the hands of another person and giving them responsibility for making you happy. They are not responsible for your happiness. You are!
Note: No advice is inherently good or bad. It’s all about who is receiving the advice and what they need to hear. So for some, this advice is very helpful and creates desired results. But for grumpy girlfriends, most of the time, this advice just makes them give away even more of their power. Which is not something I recommend.
5. STOP hiding behind your “needs”
“These are my neeeeeds and since they are my needs you neeeeed to meet them.” Sound familiar? I have a different, perhaps unpopular way of viewing needs in relationships.
Your needs are:
- Food and water
- Peeing and pooping
- Perhaps some form of physical movement
If you don’t have these things you die. That means they are “needs.” Needs you are not in control of and cannot change. Needs you need to get met or else something bad is going to happen. And, good news, you’re responsible for meeting all of them! No one else can meet these needs for you.
Everything else is a want. A desire. Something you have the urge to achieve, accomplish, or experience in your life and relationship. And the good news here is that if you don’t get something you want, you don’t die. You might get sad, but you don’t die.
You have power over the things that you desire, and that’s important to know. Not because you owe it to anyone to change what you desire, but a little bit of flexibility is a good idea when you share your life with another person who has a bunch of wants of their own.
I like splitting wants and needs up into these two categories because when we get them mixed up, we also mix up what is in our control and what isn’t. What makes us die and what doesn’t. And it’s not a good idea to get them mixed up!
The reason I say that people hide behind their needs is that we have this tendency of calling a want a “need” and then throwing our hands into the air like “I can’t control it, it’s just one of my needs, end of story.” The more things we can put in the “out of my control” box, the less responsibility we have to take over ourselves, our lives, and our choices.
You have a choice. You can choose to be with a person who matches your wants or doesn’t. You can choose to be with a person who matches 4 of your wants and doesn’t match 8 of them. You get to end any relationship you want because they don’t match 1 of your important wants.
But you need to own that decision. Own that it’s a want. Don’t hide behind calling it a need and pretending like you have no power. You do.
You don’t “need” your partner to show your love and respect according to your pre-programmed recipe for what love and respect look like. You have the power to change how you interpret things if you want to be happy with this person. But you also get to search for a partner who wants to show you love and respect the way you would like to receive it. In both of these scenarios, you are in control and whichever partner you choose is free to be who they are.
The more things you put in your “want” box, the more power you have. The more things you put in your “need” box, the less power you have. I recommend filling your want box up and then finding a bunch of different people in your life to match those wants.
So… these are some of my unpopular opinions. You might agree or disagree. Both are fine. You might agree today and disagree in the future or vice versa. No problem.
My goal with this post is to offer you new perspectives. New ways of looking at all the dusty, old advice that might not be working for you. I know it didn’t work for me and today I know why. It’s because of these things that I have listed above.
If you have considered working with me and you strongly disagree with one or all of these statements, I want you to know that that’s okay. In my coaching, I allow my clients to lead the way. I don’t pressure anyone to agree with my worldview or to do things the way I do them. As a coach, I know how to help you achieve the goals you want to achieve while remaining in integrity with yourself and who you want to be. I might challenge you, but only when your ingrained, learned beliefs are keeping you from what you have told me that you want.