I have a client who is in a new relationship. She loves her man but has some very real hesitations. The most notable one is that she feels like he doesn’t make her a priority. She feels taken for granted and certainly not cherished. She has told him that she feels this way, hoping for change. And, in spite of his assertions that he loves her, it just doesn’t happen.
Why, you wonder, can’t her boyfriend, who loves her, change his behavior? Because of a very frustrating, but very real, thing known as resistance.
Resistance is a trait found in all of us…a trait that makes us hesitant to do anything that might bring about change. Even if it’s for the better.
Resistance makes us want to put the brakes on and never release them.
Resistance is something we often aren’t even aware of but it affects almost every decision we make.
Resistance can end great things before they even start.
So why won’t he make the change you want him to?
#1 – Fear of Change.
Resistance is based on the fear of change. And people are really, really afraid of change.
When faced with the idea of change most people’s reactions are “Things are just fine this way. Why would I want to do anything differently?”
Resistance to change in love can have a devastating effect. There are two people in a relationship and two peoples whose needs need to be met. When one person asks for something different the other person needs to consider if they are willing to adapt to keep the relationship moving forward.
And that is the key. Adaptation. If one person needs something different then a conversation needs to be had.
My client expressed her needs very clearly. She knew that he heard what she said and he even said that he would try to put her first. But he didn’t. Or couldn’t. And it hurt her.
The best way to overcome fear of change is communication. Talk to each other. Compromise. Make each other a priority.
#2 – Fear of Ability.
The second piece of resistance is one’s fear of the ability to do what someone asks. Does the person being asked fear that they will not be able to do what is being asked of them?
That can be paralyzing.
Perhaps my client’s beau didn’t know if he was capable of making her a priority. Perhaps he knew that his bike and the kids would always come first. But he knew if he expressed that he might lose her. So instead of explaining that fear he kept quiet.
The result? She was devastated by his continued actions and I am sure he didn’t feel very good about it either.
The best way to overcome fear of ability is communication. If he had been able to express his anxiety perhaps they could have worked together to find a solution.
#3 – Fear of Outcome.
The last piece of resistance is the fear of outcome.
So many of the reasons that people don’t take action is that they are scared of how it will all turn out. They know, to a certain extent, how things will turn out if they stay on the current path but have no idea what will happen if they change course.
For my client’s boyfriend he knew that the way he had acted so far had resulted in his winning this amazing girl and still being able to excel on his bike and support his kids in a loving and productive way.
What would happen if he started putting her first? Would his bike and his kids suffer? He didn’t want them to suffer but he also didn’t want to lose her. Maybe they wouldn’t suffer but was it worth the risk?
He was afraid. So he chose his bike and his children, hoping that she would understand. He didn’t talk to her about his decision and as a result he hurt her more.
The best way to overcome the fear of outcome is communication. She needed to know how he was feeling. They could have talked it through. She might have understood.
It is important to know that while fear of change can play a destructive role in relationships it is not, most likely, a reflection of the emotions that the resistor feels for his loved one.
He most likely loves her madly but is unwilling, or unable, to face and overcome his resistance. So it is up to her. Is she willing to live not being a priority? How important is it to her? Can she be in this relationship knowing he loves her and have that be enough?
For my client that wasn’t enough. She expressed her needs and he continued to resist and she walked away. She knew she wanted to be cherished and set out finding someone who could do so.
Are you struggling with a man who won’t change?
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.