If You’re Too Afraid to Speak Up for Yourself… you will keep pushing men away

Has a guy ever hurt or disappointed you, but you were too afraid to say something for fear of sounding weak, needy or insecure?  Instead, you pull back, act a little aloof and then wait to see if he senses something is wrong and asks you what’s up.

If you don’t learn how express your feelings, this kind of passive-aggressive behavior will keep pushing good men away.

Here’s what happened to my client, Melanie.  She flew home to spend time with her family in New York after ending a 5-year relationship with a man who was never willing to commit to her.  While she was there, she figured she’d give Bumble a try. She quickly booked two dates for the same day!

The first guy she went out with was so hot that she didn’t think there was any way the second one could compare… but she was wrong!  Jack strode across the restaurant in his faded jeans, cowboy boots, and beat-up leather jacket, and Melanie couldn’t believe her eyes.

She told me that they had the kind of instantaneous connection everyone dreams of having.  Sparks were flying everywhere. It wasn’t long before he was holding her hand, staring into her eyes and they felt like they were the only two people in the room.  Their second date was even more magical.

When Mel flew back to LA, she expected things to fizzle… but they DIDN’T.  Jack texted her every day. He told her he had spoken about her to several of his friends.  They planned a 4-day road trip in December when she was planning to be back in New York for the holidays.  Things couldn’t be going better… or could they?

A couple of her female friends made comments about how they thought it was weird how Jack only texted and never called.  Mel said it didn’t bother her, but a few days later, she mentioned in a text that she would “love to hear his voice.” He never called.   

Mel was really ticked her off because she felt like Jack wasn’t listening to her.  She said it didn’t REALLY matter, but it mattered enough that she brought it up in her coaching session.

This was the point where she first started building up feelings of resentment towards Jack.

It wasn’t long before Jack disappointed her again. He forgot her birthday.  All day long they texted back and forth, but he NEVER MENTIONED it once. When she posted something about it on Instagram, he texted her immediately, but by then the damage was done.  

“He knew” she told me.  “We’d joked about what a coincidence it was that his mother’s birthday was the day after mine.”

Mel thanked him for the birthday wishes over text but said she was exhausted and would reach out the next day.  She was hoping he would notice something was off.

Mel never told Jack she felt hurt because he’d forgotten her birthday, and her resentment deepened.

Then, came the third blow, the one that landed her in my office.  Mel went on Bumble and saw that Jack was still active on the site.  To say that she was devastated is an understatement. But because they’d never talked about being exclusive, she didn’t feel she had a right to say something.

“You have to talk about it at some point,”  I said. I suggested she tell Jack she was on the site and, when she saw that he was active, she realized that she felt uncomfortable knowing he was still seeing other people.   

Mel agreed that she needed to say something, but she wasn’t ready to talk about it. She said she preferred to say something when she went home in January, but that wasn’t for another month. I urged her to discuss it now before more damage was done, but she kept making up excuses for why the timing wasn’t right.  

“Mel, here’s what’s going to happen if you don’t talk about it,” I said. “The longer you let this go on, the more you will shut down and distance yourself from Jack.  He won’t know why, but he’ll sense that something’s up. Maybe he’ll bring it up, maybe he won’t. But this is the kind of passive-aggressive behavior that pushes men away.  I’ve seen it happen many times.”

“You’re right,” she said. “That’s already happening.  Intellectually I understand that he’s done nothing wrong, but I still feel hurt and angry and I am pulling away.”

When Mel left my office, she said that she would book another appointment so I could help her write a text to Jack, but I haven’t heard from her since.  

I don’t know for sure what happened.  What I do know is that, if Mel doesn’t start to express her feelings and ask for what she wants, she is never going to have a safe, loving, connected relationship with a man.  Even if Jack did stick around and play into her behavior, which I hope he didn’t, Mel would eventually lose respect him because she would know she could manipulate him into giving her what she wants.  

You don’t want to be like Mel.  You can’t make a big deal out of every little thing that goes wrong, you do want to start to find opportunities to express your feelings and needs to a man you’re dating. There is an art to doing this in a way that can bring the two of you closer.  You want to speak from love and with the intention of bringing the two of you closer together. You need to make requests and not give ultimatums.

In Mel’s case, instead of saying, “I need you to get off Bumble.  I’m not comfortable with you seeing other women.” She needs to say, “Would you be willing to getting off Bumble and stop seeing other women?”  This way, she will open up a dialogue, instead a monologue. Also, by making her request in the form of a question, she’s not telling Jack what to do she’s asking him what he would like to do.

Melanie is a beautiful woman, inside and out, and my guess is that Jack would agree to her request.  But if he doesn’t, he’s not the right guy. And you know what? She already invested 5 years in the last one. So, it would be better to find that out sooner than later.

P.S. For more dating insights, check out my Free Online Workshop!