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acebamboo77's avatar

How do I facilitate compromise within a relationship?

Asked by acebamboo77 (717 points ) January 14th, 2009

My boyfriend has this mindset that everything in the world is a test of his dominance/strength/intelligence, etc…
So he is very competitive, even with things like Jeopardy! He wants to be right all the time, even if being right isn’t important.
I see this as some what damaging to his ability to compromise, because he sees it as giving in.
That being said, he’s and amazing lover and partner. I just feel as though this could inhibit out relationships growth.

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16 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Yaaaah, I think it could inhibit your relationship, too. Truthfully, never having been a macho guy, I don’t understand their world view.

Maybe you have to respond to machismo with your own kind of machismo. Not in a fight, but just informing him what you are going to do, or what you expect him to do, and being prepared to leave him if he doesn’t do it, or at least compromise. Of course, you have to actually be prepared to leave him. Are you?

cwilbur's avatar

First off: you can’t compromise unilaterally. You also can’t change him without his willing consent and cooperation. You must recognize those two facts, or you’re just going to frustrate yourself.

Does he see his machismo and his competitiveness as problems? That needs to be the first step. If he doesn’t see them as problems, he’s not going to make any effort to change them.

If you can get him to see them as problems, you can get him to work on compromising. If you can’t get him to see them as problems, you have a hard choice ahead of you.

acebamboo77's avatar

Up to this point, my actions have been to draw attention to his behaviour when it is unnecessary. To show him that he is not competing with me or against me. It seems to work sometimes.
I don’t try to force him to do anything, but rather when he decides hes going to do something that I don’t enjoy, I respond with “thats fine, im going to _________” and fill in the blank with something i enjoy doing.
It seems to work, because he kisses ass after he comes home to find that I’m not there because I’ve gone out to do something I like rather than sit around and wait for him to get home.

I am not prepared to leave him, and I don’t see this as being something to break up over at this point.

I am being naive when I think that it may just take some time for him to adjust to being in a real relationship?
until me he has avoided serious commitments as much as possible and doesn’t have much basis of experience

wundayatta's avatar

What is the relationship between his parents like?

The conventional wisdom is that you can’t change another person.

What cwilbur says is good advice.

If your relationship is a competition, then you’ll always be playing games with each other until one of you decides to quit.

It might be better to make your relationship a cooperation—if he can be taught how to do that. Hmmm. I wonder if there are any “relationship” classes for couples in your area. Naw. He’d never go.

acebamboo77's avatar

Damn right he’d never go. lol
He’s pretty open with his parents, but hes the youngest child (22) out of a family of 4, and the rest of his siblings have moved away. So he’s kind of running the house because his parents are too busy and could care less about what he does. He’s very good to his mother, and is willing to help his dad with anything so they have a good relationship.

So far my only attempt is to show him how to cooperate and draw attention to the things he does that bother or upset me.
He never brushes off my comments.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t mean his relationship with his parents, but the relationship between his parents. How do they treat each other? Does one take the lead and the other follows? Does one domineer the other? What is his model for a relationship between a couple?

aprilsimnel's avatar

“Competitive”, eh?

Along with parent/parent and parent/child dynamics, makes me wonder how his relationship was/is with his siblings. He had enough of them to make that a real point of consideration.

acebamboo77's avatar

Closest with his oldest brother and gets annoyed with his other brother often and doesnt really enjoy his sisters company at all.

acebamboo77's avatar

his mom is very dependent on his dad. dad is very calm and kind hearted. mom has a temper but is very nice otherwise.

wundayatta's avatar

Maybe he expects his girlfriends to be dependent on him? After all, that’s the primary model he has for relationships between men and women. It could be ingrained in him at a very subconscious level.

I wonder if his father had to put his mother in that position, or if that was just the way it was, back when they were courting and getting married.

I’m not sure I’d expect your boyfriend to change that much. What you see is what you get, and all that.

tinyfaery's avatar

I always find it more effective to talk about these things at a neutral time, not when the situation is occuring. If he feels like you are attacking him in the moment, and you become defensive because of it, neither of you are likely to be able to remain calm and rational.

Sit him down and discuss how you feel about his behavior. Tell him what you told us. You love him and think he’s a great partner and you want your relationship to continue to grow. Tell him that you think his competitive nature might cause a rift or other problems in the relationship.

acebamboo77's avatar

i usually bring up shit that bugged me durign the day before bed

tinyfaery's avatar

I always assume overly competitive people need to feel like they are in control of every situation, that no matter what they are capable of dealing with it effectively. However, from what you have said so far, bringing this up might not be a good idea. Maybe, this is a personality trait that you either have to accept or you have to move on. For the insignificant things, like jeopardy, you might just have to laugh it off. For other, more important situations you are going to have to find a way to let him know you are not okay with it. Leaving the situation is always a good one.

acebamboo77's avatar

things like jeopardy dont bug me at all. its pretty funny, i was just using it as an example of some of the more trivial competing he takes part in.
im not really dying for an answer, just more of interest in seeing reactions. its more to get some out of the box input you know?

augustlan's avatar

Just a tip from my personal experience. Just before bed is never a good time to bring up shit. Tired grumpy men really hate that! Wait until the next day.

acebamboo77's avatar

yeah I always keep an eye out for that. The reason I opt for before bed is because both of us are nighthawks and rather than sit and watch tv for an hour before bed we go to bed and talk about our day and whatever else there is to talk about. We usually use that time to vent anything. We have a pretty honest relationship.

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