Picture this…you want to go out for dinner, and you decide to ask your significant other what they are interested in eating.
“Anything you want,” they say.
“All right,” you venture, “how about Chinese?”
“No, I don’t want Chinese. What else?”
“Hmm. I’m not really in the mood for Italian.”
And the cycle goes on and on – until you realize hey! I thought we could eat whatever I wanted!
It sounds like it’s straight out of the Sunday cartoons, but this situation can be a lighter example of a deeper relationship question: who exactly makes the plans in your relationship? And, by extension, who’s really wearing the pants, so to speak?
It’s not an unusual question. A lot of people try to play relationship “power games” in an effort to steer the relationship the right way – only to find out that the power games ended up causing a lot of resentment and, in some cases, even end the relationship.
Of course, there’s a big difference between making plans for dinner and problems so bad that your relationship will end. So let’s figure out how to make the planes without it ever leading to deeper problems.
Friendship is the Foundation
First, it’s important to understand that a good relationship will also be a good friendship. Consider a friendship you’ve had with someone else for a long time. There’s a good chance that you never feel the need to control the plans. But in a relationship, you might sometimes feel that you’ll have to gain the upper hand somehow. Why is this the case? Why, in so many words, can’t we all just get along?
It’s because a relationship has more dynamics than a regular friendship, even if a friendship will be the foundation of your romance for years to come. Needless to say, this can complicate things. Which is why it’s important to remember that a relationship ultimately boils down to a strong friendship.
But if neither one of you is ever playing power games, then how can someone assert themselves in order to solve the problem posed in the dialogue that opened this article?
Pick Your Battles
It’s a good idea, in the above case, to say “I feel like Italian tonight. If you don’t feel like anything in particular, that’s where I’d like to go.” If your significant other says that’s fine, then you’ve made plans. But if they put up a fight, remember that you have to pick your battles. “Okay, you’re right. I picked the place last time.”
The phrase “you’re right” can do wonders for a relationship – but it’s also important not to become a doormat. Picking your battles will help to establish this kind of dynamic in a relationship: you are willing to stand your ground on some (hopefully more important) things, but you’re also flexible when it comes to the little stuff. You’ll find that this approach can really make “plan-setting” a breeze as opposed to fighting over weekend plans every week.
If you and your significant other both take this approach and try to keep a general 50-50 balance in the way you make your plans, then you’ll be surprised at just how good your relationship can be while you both often get your way. Sure, you’ll have to sacrifice your own desires sometimes, but as long as you’re both making sacrifices, no one’s the “doormat.”