Have you ever noticed how some people what want they want when they want it and if they aren’t getting it, there will be a price to pay. Sound familiar?
That price will be in the form of something or some experience aimed to hurt you somehow someway, because they are not getting their way.
I have seen this pattern in thousands of people in my clinical practice from the bedroom to the telephone. This little eInsight highlights a phone exchange showing these dynamics.
Boundaries Are for Some
Stuart and Melody* decided to have an afternoon phone chat. Melody begins by asking Stuart something following up on an earlier exchange. Stuart doesn’t want to delve deeper into that subject so he lets her know he’d rather talk about something else and prefers to leave the topic behind.
Having no problem with that, Melody moves on following his lead. You see Melody sees nothing wrong with other people establishing personal boundaries. And Stuart is mightily entitled to do so as he pleases. So, this first round works well.
Now step back and let’s watch what happened when the shoe is on the other foot. Stuart asks Melody a question and she begins to answer it by adding a side story involving something she wanted to discuss with him at some point. As she delves into this, Stuart is blatantly triggered and becomes attacking and defensive.
Melody feels his escalating emotion and knows it will only get worse, so she attempts to get him off the topic and onto something else. But I’m sure if you related to the first sentence in this eInsight, you know that is more than a challenge. It’s impossible as it proved to be in this case.
Boundaries Are Not for Everyone
Melody pleaded with him to not go any further on his rant. She tried to change the subject by completely shifting the conversation. No matter what was offered she was met with Stuart pounding her with insults, externalizing blame, false accusations, abandonment innuendo.
Need I say more. I trust you get the picture. She is not allowed the same dignity to set a boundary that this man is privileged to do as he chooses.
When Attempted Boundaries End Encounters
Obviously, she is not effective in changing the discussion to something more neutral for both of them. She reaches a point where his outpouring is beyond what she wishes to process in the moment and insists on ending the phone encounter.
Moments later she looks at her phone and notices more of the same continuing in text. Refusing to engage, she lets him know maybe we can talk and sort this out another time.
But the back and forth texting continues… until days later it ends with a don’t-text-me-anymore halt. And here we go round and round.
When a bully doesn’t get his way, he will make you pay for it. Recognize these dynamics as they arise in your own relationship. Be mindful of how you engage and how you disengage. Find ways to hold your peace and make your well-being your priority.
Stuart and Melody* Be mindful that these dynamics go both ways. Stuart could be Melody, and Melody could be Stuart.
For personal help in your own relationship, visit https://innersanctuaryonline.org/spousal-abuse-help/
For access to our entire library of written and video resources on demand, visit Inner Sanctuary Online. This resource portal is designed to help you with the challenges of abusive relationships, from identifying them to influencing change within them to healing during and after them.
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention