Dear Dr. Love, I’ve been dating a man with whom I believed would spend the rest of my life with. Over the last course of the year, I truly believe that we both put our best foot forward, but I’ve turned my head once too many times and now, I’m caught because I need to make a decision.He’s extremely selfish at times and very spoiled (no thanks to my help) but had no problem with it because I loved (or love) him. When things go wrong or not his way, he doesn’t step up. In fact, he’d rather go to the bottle and then tries to turn the facts around and blame me or rather, tries to make me think I’m ‘nuts.’He’s a wonderful man and I love him so much, but am scared that if I accept his ring things will never change (as people usually don’t) and am scared that he’ll never see my side.How can I make him see that in order to be in a relationship, there are two sides to take into consideration as opposed to just his own? Looking forward to hearing from you.
When a person cannot accept responsibility for his behavior and instead turns the blame back on you, we are dealing with an ego that is too fragile to tolerate any blame. His drinking is another sign of ego weakness. Because he cannot tolerate strong feelings, he numbs them with alcohol.The problem here is that you are trying to teach principles of fair play to someone who turns the tables back so that he can stay mentally afloat. Your approach will never work with such a damaged and fragile individual. So, what can be done?Do buy my book, Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) which comes out in January. The book will give you a complete understanding of how you can address conflictual subjects with such a fragile mate. Meanwhile, you need to understand that when he defends himself and turns the blame back on you, he is actually saying, ‘Don’t hold me responsible. I am too weak to handle that.’The next question becomes, how can you talk about your issues without threatening him?Before you confront him on any touchy subjects, use what I call the Disclaimer. The Disclaimer gives him the benefit of the doubt and tells him that you know he didn’t intentionally mean to harm you. When you shore his ego up with your words, he won’t need to defend himself.The Disclaimer sounds like, ‘I know you wouldn’t intentionally hurt me for the world, ‘or’ I am sure you didn’t realize that I would be upset by. . . . ‘ Now, another thing you must remember to do is to avoid the word ‘you’ all together.Instead of saying, ‘You hurt my feelings when you laughed at me in front of our friends,’ reword the sentence so that the word ‘you’ isn’t included. You might reword the previous sentence in the following way. ‘My feelings were hurt when I was laughed at in front of my friends.’Instead of telling him how you feel, you might also try asking him questions. This technique sparks a partner’s sense of awareness about how he or she is coming across, without your having to point the finger. This technique sounds like this, ‘Can you guess how I felt when I was laughed at in front of my friends?’ A variant of the above technique is to insert your feeling in the body of your question. Example, ‘Should I be feeling hurt when I am laughed at in front of my friends?’The last two questioning techniques may not work with a highly fragile, defensive partner who is likely to respond, ‘Feel however you want to feel, it has nothing to do with me.’ If you get this kind of response, then you know just how fragile your partner is. He simply cannot tolerate looking at himself or how he comes across, under any circumstances.If your partner is that fragile, you will need to get professional help in order to work this out. The bottom line, defensiveness is a cover for feelings of fragility. You need to find ways of talking to him so that is ego is shored up, not torn down.This is a tremendous challenge and burden for you. Are you sure that you want to undertake this?I would suggest that you hold off on the wedding until you work with the above techniques for a while, waiting to see how able he is to heal and grow. If he doesn’t change and isn’t willing to get help, then then ball will be back in your court. At which point, you will need to ask yourself if you are willing to tolerate always being wrong so that he can be right.Good luck.