Q: Dear Love Jays,
In the recent question regarding The Truth About Texting, both of you guys made the same very interesting point. Mr J said, “And as a woman, you should demand his attention and respect.” while Miss J said, “I say this in love…DO NOT BE AFRAID TO RAISE YOUR STANDARDS! You get what you demand. Now would be a great time to demand that whoever is interested in you has to be interested enough to call you.”
My question is how do you make those demands? I feel like I’ve demanded from my boyfriend that respect and attention and whatnot and it seems to only create more strife/conflict in our relationship. Is there a right way to do this that I don’t know about?
A: Dear How to Demand,
I’m just going to dive right in.
When it comes to communication, you have to teach people how to communicate with you. For example, if you want someone to call you instead of texting and they shoot you a text saying,”How was your day?”, you would respond by saying, “Call me when you have a moment and I will tell you all about it.” That is what I meant by “demand that whoever is interested in you has to be interested enough to call you.” Now on to your question…
- What have you done to “demand” respect and attention from your boyfriend?
- What is your idea of respect and attention?
- Are you giving him the same amount of respect and attention you expect from him?
- Are your expectations realistic?
These are all very important questions to consider; when you have a quiet moment, I want you to write down the answers down and evaluate your expectations vs. reality.
How you go about demanding respect is crucial. You cannot do it by disrespecting someone into submission and you cannot do it by leaving it up to someone else’s discretion on how to treat you. You have to do it by, first, respecting yourself and second, by giving that person the respect you expect to receive. If the person is unwilling to meet the level of respect you expect (that is where the respect for yourself comes in), you leave. Respect is essential and without i,t you cannot have a healthy relationship.
Attention can also be tricky, some people need more attention that others. If your idea of attention is being together all of the time and talking on the phone every second you spend apart then that is an unrealistic expectation. No one can give someone 100% attention 100% of the time. On the flip side, if you are only able see your boyfriend twice a week and when you see him he is always preoccupied with something else then you have a valid case.
In college Mr. J and I spent a lot of time together, but it was never quality time. It always felt like I just happened to be there and he would go about his day. He honestly thought we were spending quality time together just because we were in the same room. I told him it was not about the quantity of time, but the quality of the time we spent together. I would rather see him for one hour everyday and really spend time with each other, than see him ten hours of every day but not ever engage in something meaningful. This whole interaction left me needy; I eventually wanted all of his time hoping it would eventually turn into something of quality. It never did and we broke up.
I am not saying you have to break up, I am just saying there comes a point when you have to accept the facts. Everyone is capable of giving their significant other attention and respect, they just might not be willing. Lay everything out on the table, tell your boyfriend exactly what you need and expect. If he is unwilling to meet those needs and expectations,
it’s time to move on you have to decide what to do from there.
Dear Fulfilling My Demand,
Relationships are a working partnership consisting of two people giving 100% effort towards making it successful. We’ve often heard relationships referenced as “50/50”, but the reality is that if both parties aren’t consciously striving to give their best effort, the relationship will likely fail.
Aside from effort, communication and sacrifice complete the relationship trinity. Relationships require daily maintenance and it thrives when two people are willing to commit themselves to the work. The work will not always be fun, but the dividends we receive from working hard is usually well worth it.
Have you noticed a common theme within the first two paragraphs?
We can make demands all day, but if we are with a partner who isn’t willing to work towards satisfying those demands…you’re wasting precious time and energy. It is our responsibility to enter relationships with a REASONABLE level of expectation and communicate these feelings prior to starting one. If you “demanded” your man to treat you (respect and attention) a certain way, yet you have allowed him to act below those standards, who is to blame? It’s easy to point the finger in the opposite direction; however, both of you are equally responsible for maintaining an acceptable respect level.
The hardest component in communicating effectively is not what we say, but how we say it. “Demand” has a strong overtone and people often shut down or rebel when slapped with one. We have to carefully structure our words in way that expresses our discontent without coming off too aggressive or attacking. When Miss J and I have had our own issues, she does a great job of expressing her feelings without putting me on the defensive; the times when the opposite has happened, it only led to more frustration and confusion.
Managing strife and conflict is an essential task of every relationship, yet we should never sacrifice our feelings or self-worth to avoid it. You have to decide what you are willing to accept, then act accordingly.
For your listening enjoyment 🙂