Do you think you’re a bit too pushy in your relationship?
Maybe your partner tells you they think you are or you have a hunch that you are.
If you want to do something about it, this guide offers 10 effective tips to put an end to pushy behavior.
1) Accept there are two of you in this
Now: be honest, are you guilty of wanting your partner to do things that you want to do? Have you found yourself thinking they should jump at the chance to join you on a yoga weekend or want to join you at your friend’s book launch?
If they don’t match your excitement for activities or want to come along, do you find yourself getting frustrated and bitter?
In my own experience, I know this to be true.
It’s something I’m personally working on, as Thảo Anh Nguyễn writes for Love Connection, not recognizing the relationship is a two-way street is a recipe for disaster.
I use these examples because they are situations I’ve recently dealt with. I expected my partner to share the same enthusiasm as me for yoga and to accompany me to the book launch, simply because that’s what I wanted from him.
I could feel myself being pushy by letting him know I was disappointed that he didn’t love the ideas as much as me. I didn’t hide this disappointment, which was a subtle way of trying to force what I wanted out of the situation.
But the reality is I’m more than capable of going to these events by myself and I can always ask a friend.
What does this mean for you?
Yes, it’s important to display a level of compromise and to show our partners that we’re interested in hearing about the things that mean something to them.
But this doesn’t mean we should expect the same level of enthusiasm, and use tactics like disappointment to try and push the situation to work in our favor.
The best way to approach these sorts of situations is to express clearly how important something is to you and to see if you can meet in the middle.
Explain what it is you need from your partner.
Simply put: you’re in a partnership and don’t want to live entirely separate lives, but at the same time, you shouldn’t expect them to do everything you want all the time.
2) Hold off calling them all the time
Relationship experts will have you know that it is actually healthy to not speak to your partner everyday and you shouldn’t feel obliged to speak to them all day, every day.
First things first, it depends if you’re in a new or long-term relationship.
I’m in a fairly new relationship and have spent hours and hours on the phone to my new beau since meeting.
There’s been phases where we’ve called each other over five times a day, just to share anecdotes or say hello. Some of these phone calls have lasted over four hours.
We never run out of things to talk about and it confirmed how much of a match we really are.
Simply put: it’s intense between us.
One thing I’m cautious about is being too pushy and expecting we talk like this all of the time.
I haven’t expressed this and he’s not making me feel like this.
I just know how much I enjoy speaking to him at length and not wanting it to fizzle out.
You see, I have a hunch that he feels obliged to call me at the end of the day to debrief.
But this is my mind going into overdrive and I don’t have any actual evidence that shows this.
Does this sound similar to your situation?
I’ve figured the best thing to do is have clear communication with my partner. Why?
- It removes the element of guesswork
- You’ll avoid misunderstandings
- You can better support each other
3) See your partner as your equal
In another article I wrote, I explained that you’re treating your partner like a child when you start pushing them.
Growing up, the role of our parents is to encourage us to overcome our mental challenges, find our life paths and do things we didn’t want to do, like eating brussel sprouts.
In my own experience, my mother helped me choose what subjects to study and she helped me overcome all sorts of fears – pushing me along the way.
Now: if you find yourself wanting to play parent and encourage your partner to take up new activities and walk a different path, you need to ask yourself whether it’s a control thing and why you’re doing it?
You see, if you tell your partner what to do, by default you’re making them feel like they’re your inferior.
Think about it: if you’re telling them what to do, then that suggests you have it all sussed and they should follow your lead.
It positions you as their superior.
But wait, let me tell you something…
If your partner is asking for you to be a sounding board and seeking out advice then that’s a totally different ballgame.
For example, my partner is in the process of moving into a new profession, so my advice was to start a spreadsheet where he can document the sort of jobs he’s drawn to in a bid to notice patterns, plus he can track how productive he’s actually being before he says things like: “it’s really hard to get a new job”.
I wanted to help him out with my solution-oriented approach, but I didn’t want to be overbearing so I made a point of asking whether he was asking me to help problem-solve or just use me as an outlet.
He thought the spreadsheet was a good idea and said he’d like to do it himself. I did offer to help him get it running, which was a tad pushy, to which he said he should do it himself.
I could feel myself wanting to be a bit pushy and to encourage him to get going – but I recognize he had to do it on his own terms, rather than having something mother him and tell him what to do and how to do it.
Now, there’s more: offering advice and pushing your partner becomes an issue if you’re explicitly pushing them in one direction or another because you think it would work out better for you.
For example, you could be encouraging them to pick up a certain job because they’d earn more and be able to treat you to more holidays or perhaps you want them to reduce their hours so they can give you all of their time.
Truth is, you shouldn’t have a stake in this decision.
Sure, we all want our partners to factor us into their plans, but these decisions are theirs to make. It’s up to them to weigh up what’s important.
4) Respect when your partner says no
This one takes into consideration seeing your partner as your equal and recognizing the relationship isn’t one-sided: when your partner says no to something, don’t instantly take offense and push them to change their mind.
You will only cause resentment.
Who wants that?
As if that’s not enough, sure if you manage to persuade them to join you at something you want to desperately go to, they might come along but can bet that they’ll drag their heels there.
Even if they have a good time, you’ll have to deal with the backdrop of knowing they didn’t really want to be there in the first place, which dampens the mood.
They have a right to say no to things, and being pushy isn’t going to get you very far.
The best thing to do? Have an open and honest conversation with your partner about what respect means to you to agree you two are on the same page.
Here’s why: this study shows that respect is “deeply important” in relationships.
But that’s just one side of the story: if your partner says yes to something and then, at the last minute, bails on you… it’s a different situation.
I’ve been there and have been upset with my partner for changing their mind last minute.
I find this sort of behavior incredibly triggering and it upsets me as it comes across as disrespect and showing disregard for the other person.
The way to deal with this? Come back to open, clear communication about what you expect and what you need from each other.
5) Don’t create a negative feedback loop with your partner
If you’re at a point in your relationship where you and your partner call each other nasty names and say their good-for-nothings, you’re in a toxic relationship and you should look closely at whether it’s right for you both.
Towards the end of my last relationship, we lost respect for each other and found ourselves calling each other everything under the sun, which ultimately I found too hard to come back from.
In my new relationship, I’m committed to not doing that or tolerating that.
At all costs, you should avoid saying negative things about your partner plus those around them – like their friends and family.
This negative feedback loop isn’t going to get you very far. Instead, it will only make them feel insecure and as though you’re casting judgment.
Research shows that keeping things positive will work wonders for your relationship.
Be mindful about the things you say to them and the ways in which it can negatively affect them.
And if they tell you that they feel as though you’ve negatively attacked their character, know that a sincere apology goes a long way.
The good news?
Relationships are a great opportunity for self-reflection and growth, offering a chance to become more mindful about how we communicate with others.
6) Focus on working on yourself
Be honest: do you find yourself wanting to fix your partner?
The word ‘fix’ might be a bit triggering, but, truthfully, do you see your partner as your project?
There have been a few occasions where my partner has said they don’t want to feel like my project and, I agree, that’s not what I want from the relationship either.
Because of the way I work, I’ve found myself trying to offer solutions when it’s up to him to figure out which direction is best.
I know that I really don’t want a project of sorts, but I need to accept that he’s been made to feel like that because I’ve said things along the lines of wanting to ‘help’ him.
Turns out, my solution was letting him know that I’m happy to offer any suggestions but for him to let me know if he doesn’t want my input and I’ll back off.
Something else I’ve decided to do is redirect this energy to working on myself.
I’m also at a place of navigating change and there’s plenty of things to work on for myself.
Bring that focus back to you to experience a profound shift.
7) Find joy outside of the relationship
By now, you should be thinking about the importance of switching the focus on yourself, instead of focusing on your partner’s flaws.
It’s also key to look outside of the relationships for satisfaction and joy. It’s naive to think your partner is the source for all of your happiness – and it’s unhealthy!
Of course your partner will be a huge source of joy and happiness in your life, but the worst thing you can do is see them as the only source.
Think about it: it’s a form of codependent behavior if you view your partner as your provider of warmth, love and good times.
It might be true that they provide these aspects, but outside of them it’s important to recognize these feelings exist within us, and we can cultivate these feelings in different forms with others outside of the relationship.
Why not think about taking up a new hobby and expressing yourself in a new way? You could:
- Join a local choir or take an acting class just for fun
- Start studying a new subject that really interests you
- Sign-up to do a park run to get fit and meet friends
Simply put, there’s loads of ways to find joy and fulfillment outside of the relationship.
It’s pushy to expect your partner to be the only source of joy.
Also, remember that your partner will also have down days, and that’s OK. It takes emotional maturity to accept this and to embrace them in all of their humanness – warts, bad moods and all.
What’s important is that they communicate with you and let you know where they’re at – they make clear it’s not because of you and just ask you to appreciate they’re having a bad day because something happened.
8) Don’t place expectations on your partner
There’s nothing worse than feeling let down, don’t you agree?
Expectations breed disappointment.
It’s as though my boyfriend is destined to fail because of the expectations I place on him.
For example, I went away for a few days and as my plane touched down, I found myself wondering whether he would have thought to surprise me at the airport.
Maybe I’ve watched too many rom-coms, but my mind totally ran away with it.
I really did have a brief moment where I thought he might have decided to come and greet me.
And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a pang of disappointment.
I let myself feel put-out by the situation, when the reality was he was at home cooking a meal for me to enjoy when I got back.
I also found out that he’d spent the last few days struggling with his mental health, so I was way off the mark expecting him to greet me with the same energy level.
I was high-energy and filled with fun stories about my trip, while he barely wanted to talk, but made the effort anyway.
My expectations meeting the reality caused real friction.
My boyfriend has a hang-up with not wanting to feel like he’s disappointed me and I make it well-known when he does, so you can imagine how this one went down.
Reflecting on the situation, I know I was pushing him to be as engaged as I wanted him to be and making him feel bad for not being.
Next time, rather than going into the situation with a preconceived idea for how things are going to go and creating expectations that cast doubt, I plan to keep an open-mind and to be accommodating to how he’s doing.
From my own experience, my best advice is to relieve yourself from expectations of how a future situation is going to play out. Stay in the present and don’t let the mind run away and create situations that you have no control over.
9) Avoid blaming them for your bad mood
The easy route out is not taking ownership for our feelings. How many times have you thought it’s your partner’s fault that you feel bad?
By shifting the blame onto someone else, we avoid taking responsibility. I’m guilty of this and I bet you are too.
Shifting the blame over to someone else can apply to all areas of our lives – but it shows up especially in romantic relationships.
Writing for Psychology Today, Barton Goldsmith PH.D stresses that your partner is not responsible for your bad mood, and negatively projecting and blaming them for your wobbles is going to be counterproductive.
Simply put, it’s important to take responsibility for your emotions.
Goldsmith encourages some introspection before you face your partner to “get a grip on yourself before you get home”.
Using your partner as a proverbial punching bag is the worst-case scenario and it’s only going to push them away.
This point comes back to placing layers of expectations on our partners to be our total source of joy.
Subsequently switching your bad mood on your partner and claiming they’re the reason for you feeling down in the dumps is only going to negatively affect your relationship, so avoid this at all costs.
Instead, take yourself off for a walk around the block, listen to a podcast or phone a friend to calm down.
10) Never compare them to other people
Your partner is unique. All of their quirks and ways of being are uniquely theirs – how awesome is that?
You see: we can all pick apart things we don’t like about our romantic partners, friends and family, but how far does that get us?
If you’ve chosen to be with someone romantically, reflect on your reasons for getting together with them in the first place.
What did you fall in love with and what do you like most about them? For example, when I think about the things I love about my partner, they include:
- Full of intellectual stimulation
- Brimming with ideas that inspires me
- Vulnerable and open in the ways he communicates
- Passionate about being the best version of himself
By reflecting on this list of qualities, it blows out of the water the unhelpful thoughts where I focus on the negatives and the lack.
Anyway, no one is going to be ‘perfect’.
Why don’t you have a go at thinking about the qualities you love in your partner to help you gain perspective?
It’s also important to remember that we’re not perfect. I’m sure you and I have traits that massively bug our partners and I’m sure they could easily compare us to their previous partners or how they perceive other people.
Now: the best thing to do?
You simply let each other be. It’s what I plan to do in my relationship too.