Something I see over and over is how infrequently we actually say what we mean. When you start to pay attention to how much this occurs, I’m sure you’ll be surprised – Especially in relationships with people that matter to you!
I like to call this phenomenon the “because-of factor.”
What am I talking about? Basically it’s when you do one thing with an underlying intention or agenda, BECAUSE you’re trying to get something else. A clear example? The guy who buys his date flowers BECAUSE OF his insecurity about what she thinks and wants to get affirmation from his date that she likes him/thinks he’s being a good boyfriend/etc. Ladies do this a lot with sex… they either have it or don’t BECAUSE OF their insecurity and they’re trying to exert some level of control in the relationship. They’ll have sex because they want to please the guy and keep the relationship alive, or they won’t because they figure as soon as they have it, the guy will leave so by not having it they keep the relationship alive.
Don’t get me wrong! Sex and flowers can be given for ‘free’ without any hidden agenda and that is a beautiful thing! Sadly more often than not, there is an underlying reason at play when we humans do something outside the norm in a relationship, and that has BIG impact on the integrity of the relationship – you might recognize this feeling as what’s scientifically referred to as ‘icky’. This because-of-factor can show up regardless of the length/ importance/significance/meaning of the relationship. It happens with people on first, second, third, fifteenth dates, just like it happens with people who have been in committed relationships for years! Time has nothing to do with it.
At this time of year (as well as on Valentine’s Day) this phenomenon often shows up. Picture this: Kevin and Melissa (arbitrary names of a made up couple) have been in a relationship for two-ish years and this year they decide they will not exchange Christmas gifts. As Christmas draws nearer, seemingly out of the blue, Melissa decides she wants to rescind the original agreement and now she wants to get each other “inexpensive but meaningful” gifts… What’s really going on here?
To the untrained eye this may look like Melissa is just looking to exchange gifts with her boyfriend… When you look a little deeper, 9 times out of 10, you’ll find Melissa is looking for something else. It’s likely for whatever reason Melissa wants to change the rules BECAUSE she’s looking for some sort of confirmation/ affirmation about where Kevin is standing in the relationship and his commitment to her. She may be using whatever Kevin gets her as a gift for a gauge of how he’s feeling. If he gets her something “meaningful” it means he’s paying attention and therefore committed to the relationship. If he misses the mark, it means he’s not paying attention and therefore must not be as committed to the relationship as he was….
Ludicrous right?? Especially when all it would take to avoid the icky feeling that comes when a “because of” is in operation, is to have a conversation… If we could start doing this when our own questioning/concern/insecurity first shows up we’d save ourselves A LOT of heartache. The problem lies in that we’re not usually in touch with how we’re really feeling. Get responsible for that and you’ll start to get power in communicating what you really mean and lose the “because factor”!