The 5 Losing Strategies Of A Relationship And Their Antidotes

Having a successful relationship takes a lot of work. I often joke with my clients that it took me 15 years to raise a healthy marriage.  A romantic union requires a lot of nurturing, guidance, and healthy boundaries.  Yet, we often go into these unions head first believing we can just wing it and everything will work out ok.  But the truth is that “winging it” is really just using your own parents’ templates for their relationship. And I don’t know about you but my parents’ model of relationship was atrocious. It’s no wonder that roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce. 


So now that you realize that as you wing it, you are really just using relationship dynamics that were modeled to you as a child, part of your process will be to start viewing your relationship with second consciousness.  That is the wise part of yourself that is coming from a healthy ego perspective that realizes you and your partner are different and you require a different map for your relationship.  Approaching your relationship from a place of calm will bring perspective and genuine team work and compromise.


According to Terry Real, founder of Relational Life Therapy, identifying which of the 5 losing strategies you do and changing the behavior can really improve your relationship.  The following are the 5 losing strategies and their corresponding antidotes.  


  1. BEING RIGHT – Being right is a losing strategy because what is right and wrong often is subjective.  Arguments are fueled by the idea that if you can just convince your partner that you were right, all will be resolved.  This actually fuels a sense of superiority that can make us indignant and offensive to our partners. Rather than getting them to see things our way, we are forcing them to submit to our perspective by using logic and reason.  The antidote is to shift from demanding they see you as being right to learning how to REQUEST what you would like. Make your requests specific, behavioral, and sensible.  
  2. CONTROLLING YOUR PARTNER – This is a direct or indirect form of manipulation.  This is essentially stating that your values trump those of your partner’s values. Controlling behaviors can lead to retaliation or secretive paybacks.  Instead, learn to use TRUST BUILDING DISCHORD.  You are entitled to dislike something your partner is doing but forcing them to change is a recipe for disaster. Instead, share with them your discomfort, use your I-statements, try to build them an image they may empathize with, ask for what behavior you would prefer, and let go of all outcomes.  If your partner is loving and receptive, they will let you know they have heard you and a productive discussion can arise on how to compromise on the matter. After a few times of doing this exercise, trust is built and the need to control will subside.
  3. UNBRIDLED SELF EXPRESSION – this is when you say what you want without any thought to kindness nor respect. The antidote is to LISTEN to your partner with compassion and understanding. You may not agree but you can acknowledge that which makes sense to you. And give whatever you can while also reconstructing and communicating your feelings in a more respectful way
  4. RETALIATION – this is offending from the victim position.  They hurt you so you are allowed to hurt them.  This is a losing strategy because the opportunity to retaliate can be endless and each time one of you gets the other back, the other is incentivized to hurt you again.  Instead APOLOGIZE and EMPOWER the person you have offended. Acknowledge with genuine intent the hurt you have caused and empower your partner to ask you for whatever they need in order to feel restored. 
  5. WITHDRAWAL – this losing strategy aims to disconnect you two and create distance.  Instead, CHERISH each other by giving your partner positive feedback and sharing your gratitude for them. Increase quality time and treat your partner with consideration. 


Take some time to really sit with these and if you find that you subscribe to all of them, simply work on one at a time.  Once you have mastered one, move on to the next.  Your relationship is an exotic new land you two deserve to give it the exploration, care, and love it needs. 

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Romina Papadopulos is the owner and supervisor at Longboat Counseling Services



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