When Your Partner Wants to Leave

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for the Elephant Journal (if you want to read just go on line and search EJ for Jennifer Lemky) called “How to Regain Respect for Your Partner”.

Since then I’ve received dozens of emails from people all basically asking the same thing….how can they get their partners to respect them again.

After writing the same email over and over again, I finally just wrote an article.

I hope you enjoy it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jen

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/03/what-to-do-when-your-partner-wants-to-leave/

 

 

The Strong Woman Myth

When I heard the familiar ding of a text message, I picked up my phone and glanced at it nonchalantly as I continued to stir the ground beef in the frying pan for the lasagna I was making for dinner. It was my friend Jeremy. He had gone through a really bad breakup last fall and I had spent a lot of time talking to him and helping him through it. I hadn’t heard from him for a while and I assumed that things were better in his world now and that he had found his emotional sea legs.

Jeremy: Hey! How are you?

Me: I’m awesome. How are things in your world?

Jeremy: Well, the other day a girl laughed at the size of my penis.

Me: WTF?? That’s horrible! I am so sorry. Some women are so vicious that I’m ashamed to share the same gender with them. I assume you are seeing a new girl and this isn’t the old GF?

Jeremy: Yeah, I WAS seeing a new girl lol.

Me: Good riddance to that one!

A few more minutes of small talk ensued and then……

Jeremy: Hey, I need your opinion on something.

Me: Sure

The minute I pressed the ‘send’ button, little alarm bells started going off in my head. What exactly had I just agreed to give my opinion on?!

Jeremy: I really need to know……

Oh boy, here it comes. I removed the ground beef from the burner because I was no longer paying attention to it and with my luck, I’d burn my house down.

Me: Wait. Are you asking me to tell you if I think your penis is small or average or huge?

Jeremy: lol yes. I trust you.

HOLY CRAP! My mind went completely blank as I started to panic. I stared at the screen and wondered what to do when three words caught my attention, “I trust you”. This sweet gentle man certainly had no reason to trust a woman. In the time I had known him, his interactions with women had repeatedly shown him that women were not to be trusted. Putting his trust in me was a leap of faith and I couldn’t throw his courage back in his face. I gave myself a pull-yourself-together-Jennifer mental shake and messaged him back.

Me: I am a medical professional. You could ask me to look at your hemharroid and I wouldn’t bat an eye. But this is a bit different. Are you sure you want to go there?

Jeremy: Yes. As a friend, I trust you to tell me the truth.

Me: I can do it as a friend if that is what you really want. But at the end of the day, this is more about you recognizing your value as a person and being confident about who you are, inside and out. When you really love yourself, you will find a woman who loves everything about you and penis size won’t matter to her.

Jeremy: I can agree with that but I really just need to know.

Me: Ok

Jeremy: So should I just send a picture now?

Me: Sure

My palms started to sweat so I put my phone down on the kitchen counter. It’s just a penis Jennifer, I reminded myself. Think of it like a picture in a textbook except there won’t be any pathology to note (hopefully). But this wasn’t just any penis, this is your friend’s penis, I argued with myself. AND the worst part is, you’re a terrible liar! What if it’s one of those one inch penises that women whisper about? What are you going to do then Ms Medical Professional, huh?

I seriously hate that other voice in my head. She’s such a pain in the ass, I thought peevishly to myself. My mental battle was interrupted by the ding of my phone. I glanced down at the offending electronic device as if it was to blame for my predicament.

Time to pull up my big girl panties. I picked up my phone and slid my finger across the screen to view the message.

And there it was.

My first unsolicited cock shot.

Ok, time for an objective opinion. I pushed my hair out of my eyes and looked at the penis on my screen. It was not a porn star penis but it wasn’t a micro penis either. This was not a penis that women were going to talk about over drinks because it didn’t fall at either end of the measuring tape. If a woman loved this man, she could love this penis.

THANK YOU JOSEPH, MARY AND SWEET BABY JESUS!

Me: You have nothing to worry about my friend.

Jeremy: Really?

Me: Yes, absolutely. You do not have a teeny tiny. Now, you and your penis need to go find a good woman who will love you both unconditionally!

I chatted with Jeremy for a bit longer and then I went back to making lasagna and hopefully he went back to his day feeling happier and more confident.

As I layered the noodles in the bottom of the pan, my mind was busy thinking about what had just happened. How could a woman who has taken the time to get to know a man and, deciding that she liked him enough to move their relationship to the next level, then cruelly and heartlessly mock him?

Is it just me or are women becoming increasingly more cruel and vicious?

Before you bring out your pitchforks and tie me to a burning stake for calling women cruel and vicious, let me say that as I woman, I feel that I am within my right to call out my own gender on their shitty behavior.

And in a lot of ways, it has become quite shitty.

Here we had a good man who stepped up to the plate and raised his son from infancy when the mom took off. He opened up his heart and family to a woman and when he was at his most vulnerable, she mocked the very source of his manhood; the size of his penis.

I constantly hear women complaining that there are no good men left anymore. Maybe that’s because women are ruining them?

I cannot say for certain that my friend will not be permanently damaged by this woman. Her cruel and hurtful mocking will definitely have a deleterious effect on him but to what extent I do not know for certain and she may well have ruined him for the next lady lucky enough to meet him.

When are we going to start realizing that hurting someone’s self esteem is like sneezing on them when you have a cold; it spreads. When someone’s self esteem has been damaged, they will often hurt other people in an effort to protect themselves by not allowing anyone to see their vulnerable places.

Worse yet, if you do not love yourself –which is what low self esteem is all about – and you cannot be vulnerable to another person, you cannot truly love someone.

So there you have it: Cruelty prevents love and that’s why it spreads like a virus when it touches people.

Historically, women have often been the victims of abuse and control due to our diminished size and strength in comparison to a man. However, when we won the right to vote, we did not win the right to turn the tables of abuse and become the abusers. The empowerment of women was not intended to turn us into cold, cruel, heartless bitches. Being a feminist does not mean that we have to be man haters.

I often seen memes proclaiming the female poster to be a strong woman who doesn’t care if people think she’s a bitch. Ladies, it’s time to give our heads a shake. How we have gotten this so wrong?

Being a strong, independent woman does NOT mean you have to be a bitch. While the ruthless business woman who claws her way to the top and destroys anyone who stands in her path has somehow become the poster child for what a strong women should be, she is actually the complete antithesis.

Strong women are intelligent, empathetic, informed, capable, they have resolve and gumption and above all, they are kind. That’s right, kind.

Kindness is a strength, not a weakness.

So if you are a good women who understand this and are living the life of a truly strong woman, I applaud you. However, if you happen to be one of those self proclaimed, tough-as-nails, man eating bitches, who is taking down good men like the plague, it’s time for you to check yourself at the door. There are far better ways of proving you are a strong woman than destroying someone.

And remember…….karma is watching

How To Regain Respect For Your Partner

Recently, I happened to be in the same room as a woman talking on the phone to her partner. The topic of the conversation held no real significance nor was it of a sensitive nature, yet her annoyance with him was very apparent. Just as like a row of toppling dominos, the more annoyed the woman became, the more aggressive her partner became until she eventually hung up the phone because he was shouting at her.

After she abruptly ended the highly charged conversation, I said to her, “I can’t help noticing over the last few days that you have mentioned several times how stupid or annoying he is.”

“Yes,” she replied in an irritated tone. “He drives me crazy. I just don’t understand how someone can be that dumb!”

“It sounds to me like you have completely lost respect for him.”

“Yes! I have absolutely no respect left for him anymore,” she said with more resignation than annoyance.

As gently as I could, I suggested that when we lose respect for someone, it changes how we speak to them; our tone of voice becomes condescending, our words belittling. Likely, his escalating behavior was the result of him reacting to those cues.

She looked surprised for a moment but then quickly agreed that she often talked down to him because his stupidity was annoying and she couldn’t respect anyone that dumb. She justified her feelings by insisting that he had become increasingly more stupid as the years had passed and listed other traits that caused her to lose respect for him like his laziness and inability to hold a job.

Since she was receptive to the conversation, I first assured her that I wasn’t blaming her for the situation she now found herself in, and then I put forth the idea that he hadn’t become increasingly dumb or lazy. Rather, he had always had these traits but in the glow of new love, she either hadn’t seen them or had made allowances for them because she wanted to be with him.

This is a mistake the majority of us have made at least once. We fall into relationships quickly and let infatuation and attraction lead the way rather than objectively looking at the other person and deciding if we are willing to accept them just the way are.

Relationships are really about “terms”; each person states their terms and the other can agree to them or not. It is easy in the beginning to establish a baseline of terms that allows the relationship to move forward. Things like smoking, level of fitness and activity, desire for a family, religious views, sexual proclivities and orientation are all examples of major “terms” that have to be agreed upon. Hidden in the mix are other less obvious terms that a person may not admit to outright. Sometimes there is an agenda to keep these terms hidden but often he or she may not even consciously realize they are bringing “terms” into the relationship that the other person may not want to agree to. They may be things like: I want to watch sports all weekend, I don’t want to help with the housework, I want to play video games in my free time, I need large amounts of alone time, I want to go out and socialize all the time or I want to stay home and never go anywhere. These are just a few examples of things that can make or break a relationship after the infatuation stage wears off.

If you find yourself annoyed, frustrated or losing respect for your partner, it’s likely because you can no longer tolerate some of their terms. The real question is: can you still love someone you don’t respect?

By its very definition, love is acceptance and admiration while respect means that we admire someone and hold them in high esteem. Therefore it would appear that love and respect are mutually exclusive; you can’t be in love with someone you don’t admire and you can’t admire someone you don’t hold in high esteem. You can never really be “in love” with someone you are not proud of.

Love is not black and white; it is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Couples who have stayed the course have survived the lows and found love for their partner again.

However, respect is a totally different beast. It does not generally ebb and flow through the course of a relationship and once lost, it is very hard to regain.

If you find yourself falling out of love with your partner because you’ve lost respect for him or her, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Write down all of your partners “terms” as you see them and then separate them into two groups: negotiable and non-negotiable. If your partner is not willing to work on changing the non-negotiable terms, then you have to make some very hard decisions about whether or not you are willing and able to stay in the relationship.
  2. Loss of respect is not a one way street. Your belittling words and actions will cause a downward spiral in your partner’s feelings toward you.  If you are serious about regaining respect, you have to ask your partner what you are doing to cause him or her to lose respect for you.  You can only change YOU, not your partner.
  3. If possible, you and your partner should have a discussion about each other’s negotiable terms and see if compromises can be reached. 
  4. Don’t focus on the negative traits because that will only cause you to find more and more things you dislike about your partner. Instead, set your alarm and three times a day write down 1-3 things you like about your partner. If you really can’t think of anything you like about him or her right now, write down the things you initially fell in love with.
  5. Life is like a mirror; what you put out into the world is reflected back to you. Make a commitment to yourself to compliment your partner on their appearance, personality or behavior three times a day. Leave a note on the mirror telling her how beautiful she looked, send a text message thanking him for mowing the lawn while you were grocery shopping, or tell him how much you admire him as a father. You’ll be amazed what comes back to you when you send out positivity rather than negativity.

If you have found ways to regain love and respect for your partner, I’d love to hear from you!