Strings Attached Dating
By Frank Kermit
It is important to be grateful for everything you have, and everything that others do for you.
Having gratitude reminds each of us to be thankful for elements in our life that we may likely take for granted.
During troubling times in our life, gratitude is a reminder of how things could be worse, and helps people keep a sense of perspective, which helps many individuals from being overwhelmed by life challenges.
Gratitude, and the act of being grateful is a good thing.
However, like any good thing, it is a matter of context, and even gratitude can be turned into something negative in our love lives if we are not careful.
In my practice, I sometimes see good people being manipulated because their own gratitude has been used against them.
A typical example is that the person is dating someone, and the partner does something for the person.
Person expresses gratitude, and then the partner reveals that the giving-act has a price (an expectation) that was not previously disclosed.
What can end up happening is that the person who was grateful, may now feel pressured into giving into to the expectations (now demands) of the partner, partly out of guilt, and partly out of wanting to show appreciation for the giving act he or she is grateful for.
When it comes to dating, we all bring expectations to the table.
There is nothing wrong with having a price attached to what you want to give in a relationship. In fact, having a price for what you offer translates to having boundaries for yourself, to protect yourself, your needs and is necessary for you to communicate to others how you want to be treated.
That is not the issue.
The issue is when people do not communicate their expectations (their price) for a giving-act BEFORE taking action.
There can be no assuming that someone sees an exchange in dating, or attaches the same values that you do, to any particular action.
If the two of you have not discussed the expectations going forward, never assume anything has any deeper meaning to your partner, as it might for you.
If you have expectations of your partner based on certain actions, express them before you do the actions.
Otherwise, you may end up using the gratitude your partner feels towards you as a weapon of manipulation. It may not even be your intent to do so, but that is what you are doing, and it is wrong.
Do you expect your partner to commitment to you if you have sex? Do you expect your partner to give up other dating options if you introduce your partner to your family? Do you expect your partner to continue to see other people, as you intend, until there is a formal engagement or marriage proposal? Do you expect your partner to tolerate any of your inappropriate attitudes and behaviors, because of the way you take care of him or her? Do you expect that your partner will make your needs a priority if you shower your partner with gifts?
Trying to guilt anyone into agreeing to give you something in exchange for your thoughtfulness is not ethical, because it is robbing that person of a proper choice in the matter.
If you have any strings attached to what you do in dating, be clear and let that person know what your strings are to ensure that neither of you end up unintentionally trying to manipulate one another.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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