First of all don’t. Don’t do that. Trying to make someone afraid of losing you is a form of manipulation and that’s just gross.
Note: This is not exclusively applicable to hetero relationships, but for simplicity and to keep it brief, I’ll focus on hetero relationships. Please apply pronouns to your specific situation as you see fit.
Warning: This article is not going to be softened with any fluff. I’m likely to offend at least a few of my readers with some brutal honesty. If you take personal offense to anything I’ve written, I will encourage you to explore the reasons why. And second, I’ll remind you that there is nothing comfortable about personal growth. Read on and face your own shadows head on… or stay in your comfort zone. It’s totally up to you.
Listen, if you are manipulating your partner to stay with you, be more attracted to you, or stop looking elsewhere for attention… Just stop. Stop it now. I don’t know how many articles I’ve read with headlines like this and felt sick to my stomach. They’re written for women to learn tactics on how to manipulate men. Ladies… this may be an unpopular opinion, but men are not stupid. They know when they’re being manipulated and controlled. And if you feel you need to employ these tactics to “land a man” or “keep him interested”, you really need to take a closer look at your self esteem, and your own feelings of self worth. This is game playing, and it allows for bad behavior to continue on both sides. Men need to be held accountable for bad behavior and that means you don’t contribute or allow it. Because as long as you’re giving attention to something, that’s reinforcing that behavior. So instead, take away your attention. Don’t nag, don’t cry, don’t yell, just walk away. You want to complain about men not appreciating you, well here’s the harsh truth: We teach people how to treat us.
A. You deserve a relationship with a partner who appreciates you and sees your value without you having to point out or make a show of all the reasons you’re great. (Okay, a tiny bit of fluff).
2. If you aren’t bringing your “A” game to the table, then you need to ask yourself how you can step it up. Have you gotten lazy and stopped taking care of yourself? Have you fallen into bad habits, i.e. not exercising, unhealthy eating habits, poor hygiene, or drinking too much? Are you dressing like your partner would be proud to stand by your side, or are you barely bothering to get out of your pajamas on your days off? Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to alter your appearance and get botox injections or go buy new clothes to get his attention, but you need to be taking care of yourself. Have you developed a nasty attitude, complaining constantly, are you rude to people and a gossip? Have you been neglecting him? Is it possible that you’re not showing up for him emotionally? Sometimes we have to extend ourselves just a bit more and show up in a way that will show him that you’re paying attention to his needs. If you’re only interested in what he’s giving you, then you’re on a fast track to losing him. -Please understand, this goes both ways. Both parties in a relationship are equally responsible for showing up in a relationship with their “A” game.
Third. I’m trying to be funny ha! No? Okaaaay fiiine. Anyway, if you’ve brought your “A” game, and they can’t appreciate you as you are, then you’re not in the right relationship. End of story. Stop trying to put lipstick on a pig. Holding on tighter to someone who does not put in the same effort, will never have the effect you want it to. It will literally push them away. And someone who can’t appreciate you for who you are doesn’t deserve your love and support. Each person needs to feel appreciated and loved for exactly who they are. No one should ever enter a relationship hopeful that your partner will change any aspect of themselves. Entering a relationship is an as-is deal. Do not sugar coat reality.
If you are in a relationship where you’ve brought your “A” game, and you feel they have become complacent… let them! Part of adulting is learning how to find gratitude for all of the wonderful things and people in your life. You absolutely can not control how others feel about you or any given situation. If you are trying to make your husband appreciate you more, you need to ask yourself why. Are you afraid of losing him? Why? If a relationship is not serving you, if you are not mutually benefitting and growing together that is a problem. The truth is you’ve likely already lost him, or another perspective is that he’s already lost you. Staying with someone because you’re afraid of the unknown, afraid to be alone, afraid of what your friends and family will think, afraid you won’t find another love, afraid that your children will be negatively affected by divorce… there are a thousand reasons why people stay in relationships that they shouldn’t… but have you noticed anything common with the few reasons listed above? Fear.
Do not allow fear to prevent you from making good choices.
If you’re staying for the children, consider the example you’re setting. Kids are not stupid, they see how mommy and daddy talk to each other. If you are in an unhappy marriage and can not appreciate each other, your children are likely to repeat that pattern in their own relationships when they get older.
And if children are not part of the equation, and fear of the unknown is part of the reason you put up with someone who doesn’t appreciate you. You need to stop worrying about all the negative what ifs, and instead ask yourself:
What if there is someone better out there for me?
What if this relationship is holding me back from reaching my fullest potential?
What if I left and felt better than ever?
Now, I’m not suggesting that the only answer to feeling unappreciated, and undervalued is to leave. What I’m suggesting is this… IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSE APPRECIATE YOU. Either they do or they don’t, and it’s really that simple. The only thing you have any control over is how you show up in the relationship. Having a conversation about feeling unappreciated is the first step to showing up. If you can’t be vulnerable enough to have difficult conversations, then something is wrong. If your partner dismisses you and doesn’t make you feel safe to be vulnerable, something is wrong. It all starts with communication.
There may be differences in your Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend at the very least skimming it. Everyone places different value on different expressions of love, and we typically tend to express it most in the ways that we like to receive love, not necessarily how our partner likes to receive love. If you’ve had a level headed, open and vulnerable conversation without verbally attacking your partner and they are apathetic or dismissive of your concerns, then it’s probably time to call it quits.
Now this is where some women might disagree with me, (actually I’m sure quite a few people disagree, and that’s okay) and make excuses for their man. “He just has a hard time expressing his feelings.” Or, “he’s just not that great at communicating.” And while these may be true, and not necessarily a reason to end the relationship…as long as he’s continuing to learn and grow. If you see him trying to do better, then by all means keep working on it…assuming you want to. At the same time we need to hold each other accountable and not make excuses for selfish behavior.
You choose who you give your attention to.
You choose who you give your attention to. And if you are giving someone attention because you feel obligated, or guilted to do so, that’s still your choice, (i.e. “He works so hard and pays the bills, but he never talks to me. I know he doesn’t love me like he used to. And I’m pretty sure he’s having an affair…”) How many times have you heard this from someone you love, how many times have you had similar thoughts? I’m not passing any judgement here, I want to be very clear on that. We all make decisions based on our current emotional/financial needs. That’s a sad truth. But I implore you to consider how living like this will affect your self esteem and feelings of self worth? Again, you deserve love. But as long as you allow someone to treat you badly, you will face the ill effects. Yes, you read that right. You are allowing them to treat you badly. And you will never be able to manipulate someone into treating you with mutual respect by yelling at them, nagging, begging or pleading, shaming or guilting, or making them afraid of losing you. If you’re ready to leave, just go.
Note: This article does not apply to domestic violence situations. There are complexities within abusive relationships that make leaving much more difficult and sometimes dangerous. If you or someone you love is in an abusive situation, I encourage you to seek help. National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Do you manipulate your friends? No!
You don’t try to make your friends appreciate you more by making them fear losing you if they don’t “shape up”. Note: If you do this in friendships, you may want to talk to a licensed counselor and get to the root of that behavior. But for most of us, if you have a friend who is not meeting you half way in the friendship, you cut your losses and move on. Or simply only give as much attention as they give. Occasionally we need to extend more effort in order to maintain a relationship though, but only when we have extra effort to give. The same rules of mutual effort and respect needs to be applied to your intimate partnerships. You absolutely must value each other as friends first (and continually throughout the relationship). This is not where you get to say, “Well we were friends first.” You must continue to show up, as a friend every. single. day. And if they’re not showing up with the same level of enthusiasm, then it’s time to cut your losses. You deserve better.