(Adapted from the bestselling book, Fight Less, Love More, by Laurie Puhn, now in paperback)
If you think being an agreeable date is always a positive, think again. Does this argument sound familiar? Someone you’ve been dating asks, “Your birthday is coming up, what would you like to do for your birthday?” You answer, “Whatever you want.” Then you end up eating at the Italian Restaurant you absolutely hate, with some friends, who are at the bottom of your ‘like’ list. Watch this clip for a short play-by-play enactment of the “whatever” fight.
Using the word “whatever” because it’s convenient and lets you off the hook for a decision, is setting yourself and your relationship up for a downfall.
In a healthy relationship, two people often have different opinions and preferences, and they should express them. When you don’t take the time to reveal your true thoughts, whether it’s about where to eat, what movie to see, or which friends you want to go out with, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to resent your guy / gal for not knowing what you really think. In turn, your mate begins to resent your “whatever” attitude because it places the burden of decision-making entirely on his or her shoulders, causing unnecessary stress and conflict in your relationship.
Rather than continuing to allow energy-draining “whatever” arguments to poke holes in our relationship, we can recognize and sidestep this common relationship trap. If you find yourself about to utter the “whatever” word, whether it’s because you want to be nice or don’t want to be bothered with the decision, stop yourself and say, “I better think about this.” Then say what you really want. On the other hand, if your mate says “whatever” to you one too many times, don’t respond with a head-shaking eye-roll. Instead, let your honey know that you value his /her input and want a specific suggestion.
All common sense, right? Then why is it so hard to think clearly in the moment? As I write in my bestselling book, Fight Less, Love More, new in paperback, hard pressed for time with one another, it’s all too easy for couples in the dating stage to unknowingly fall into a poor communication routine with bad verbal habits that incite relationship distress. Fortunately, a touch of awareness and some new verbal skills are all that we need to positively transform ourselves and our growing relationship.
Laurie Puhn, J.D., is a Harvard-educated lawyer, couples mediator, syndicated columnist and premier conflict resolution expert. She is the author of the best-selling book, “Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In,” now in paperback. You can hear her informed commentary, relationship advice and humor on major news outlets including “Fox and Friends,” “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “The Early Show,” “20/20” and “Imus in the Morning.” Visit her online at www.fightlesslovemore.com.