Most guys have an innate aversion to being told what to do with their lives, especially by their girlfriends (I blame our mothers). When a guy hears “you have to come to my sister’s daughter’s christening in August” a part of him immediately thinks “Do I?”
When you enlist him to help you clean up for the next hour and tell him it’s because he’s been lazy all day, his brain reverts to that of a stroppy child being reprimanded – it’s the kind of phrase that makes him want to run away to live by himself in a private man cave in the mountains.
It sounds petty, but although in both situations he probably is happy to come along with you, he also feels like he isn’t being appreciated for doing the right thing.
That sounds childish even as I write it. You might wonder: “if it’s the right thing, why doesn’t he just do it anyway and suck it up”?
I’ve found in my relationships that I generally feel dissatisfied when I feel under-loved and under-appreciated.
It’s not that I need a clapping seal to dance and cheer at my rising out of bed in the morning, but those little generous compliments and moments of praise are enough to make me want to be my best self.
I remember one girlfriend whom whenever I made her a cup of tea and brought it to her in bed, she’d say: “Oh my God, you are my dream man”.
One time I washed her dirty dishes whilst wearing a pair of Marigolds and she wrapped her arms around me and saying “Can you take your shirt off when you do that so I can watch you topless? It’s so sexy for some reason”.
But that didn’t stop me from volunteering myself to do a hell of a lot of washing up that year.
Rarely have I found in life does much bad come from over-praising the people we love when they get things right.
I’ve also noticed how tiny language tweaks help you say what you really mean, instead of coming across as demanding and unreasonable.
For example, back to our earlier examples, what if instead of saying: “You have to be at my sister’s daughter’s christening this week” you might say, “Are you still coming on Friday? My family would really appreciate it if you’d be there”.
Or if someone is moaning about an upcoming event, you can often turn it around by saying, “Everyone is so happy you’re coming”. Now suddenly they have a positive incentive to come and be a part of something, rather than a negative feeling of being nagged into an obligation.
Where do you find positive reinforcement works best? Can you overdo it? Let me know in the comments below.
If you want copy & paste scripts that you can use in any situation with men, watch this video: “How to Talk to Men”
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.