Your partner screwed up. He really blew it. You are fuming with anger and disappointment.
Before you act, take a few seconds to think about your next steps carefully.
We are fed this idea of a perfect man that always gets, always knows what to say, and never messes up. But real men, even the best of them can sometimes screw up.
To err is human and we are all guilty of that. Nobody’s perfect and the man you’re dating or in a serious relationship with will eventually make a mistake at some point. We all make them, so it’s likely that you may have made a few errors along the way too.
That said, mistakes aren’t created equal. It’s one thing if he forgot to mail your friends’ wedding gift and a completely different thing if you found out he’s been talking with his ex behind your back.
If you’re here, it means he made a mistake that really hurt you and you are trying to gain some clarity. You may also be scared, wondering if this kind of behavior can happen again. Yes, it can and probably will. So how you handle his transgression makes a big difference.
You have 3 choices.
1- Get Out
If he made a mistake that puts you in physical danger, you may need to call the police or arrange for another place to live. You need to get the help you need to keep yourself safe. Removing yourself from the situation is one of your best options.
Keep in mind that violence can take many forms. Shouting, threatening, knocking objects are all signs of abuse. Sometimes, the abuse can be emotional, like he’s trying to control what you wear, who you see, and what you do, or financial like he’s pressuring you to quit your job or he’s giving you an allowance.
If he made a mistake and you think that there is a way to work through it, you must address the problem and hold him accountable for his actions. However, don’t be too harsh with him and don’t use accusatory language. “You shook me to the core,” may put him in defensive mode rather than making him think about his actions.
Talk more directly about how you’re feeling, by using “I” language to de-escalate the situation and help him see things from your perspective.
“I’m really hurt and scared of talking to you right now.”
If you’ve done anything to provoke or escalate the problem, you can apologize without letting him off the hook.
“I’m sorry. I never should have said that, but I still feel really hurt by what you said.”
Some flaws fall into the category of things you need to accept or just find someone else. If he made a mistake by being chronically late or if he’s obsessed about cleanliness, you aren’t going to change him. Nagging doesn’t work very well. These are certainly annoying habits, but they’re relatively harmless.
Try not to overreact and make the situation worse. If he made a mistake that’s workable, you don’t want to make your problems harder to resolve or throw out the baby with the bathwater. If it’s not workable, why make the breakup messier or more dangerous?
Trying to Change Him Could Backfire
When a man has problems, you might be wondering if you can change him. Many women have the dangerous belief that they can change a man, but it’s more like pruning a shrub in your garden. You might be able to shape his behavior a little, but you can’t change his basic nature. If he cares about your feelings, he might change a little. If he made a mistake and doesn’t show any willingness to bend, then you have a clear signal that either he’s not that interested or he’s so set in his ways that he’s a lost cause.
Don’t make excuses for him. If you confront him, make sure he fully addresses how he’s going to rectify the situation. He may need time to figure it out. Don’t let your relationship return to normal until he’s taken steps to reassure you that he plans to make changes that will fully address your concerns. For example, if he’s got a drinking problem, you want him to start going to AA meetings, getting a sponsor, and actively participating. If he’s got anger issues, he needs therapy. If he’s depressed, he needs to see a psychiatrist. And, you need to see that he is taking the steps in the right direction and trying to take care of himself.
Over to You
What did you do when your man made a big mistake that hurt you? Could you have handled it better? Leave us a comment below.