Intimate relationships are breeding grounds for entitlement to surface.
And it’s understandable that this theme would bubble up in certain partnerships.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all have an entitled child inside of us who wants life to be easier than it sometimes feels.
Who would say no to a lifelong private chef? Or never worrying about earning or managing money ever again?
So long as the theme of entitlement stays hidden within the shadow of our psyche, we won’t be able to acknowledge and transform it.
If you or your partner have noticed a progressive sense of entitlement on one (or both) of your ends, then here are some practical steps you can take to work through it together, and come out stronger on the other end.
1. Find a calm, distractions free time to talk with your partner
Any potentially difficult conversation should always be had at a time when both you and your partner are feeling resourced and available. If either or both of you are feeling tired, stressed, distracted, hungry, or actively resentful, then you might want to wait until you’re both feeling more centred before you begin.
But if you are both fed, well rested, and you can safely assume that you will not be interrupted by any of the usual suspects (children, ringing/vibrating phones, etc.) then ask them if they have time to talk, and sit down with them.
2. Name the entitlement that you are seeing
Without being accusatory, dramatic, or unkind, tell your partner that you have been perceiving a pattern of potential entitlement. Tell them that, in certain ways, you feel that you sometimes feel under-supported in aspects of the relationship. Tell them whatever is true about how you see entitlement rearing its head in your relationship.
Remember, it is imperative at this stage that you speak from a self-responsible and compassionate place. If you allow unprocessed anger come out sideways and they feel like they are being attacked or made wrong, then the conversation will turn unproductive rapidly. All you can do is speak honestly about your personal experience, while doing your best to do so from a place of love, caring, and wanting the best for you, them, and the relationship.
No matter how much your mind/hurt/ego wants to steer the conversation towards playing the victim card (ie. “You never do anything around here and I’m always left to do everything!”), you must stay in your centre and speak from your heart. Connection and understanding is the end goal, not offloading your pent-up pain onto an unsuspecting recipient.
3. Own your part in the dynamic
No matter how difficult it might feel to do in the moment, it is also crucial that you own your part in the dynamic and how you have contributed to where you have found yourself.
Again, do your best to not fall into the victim role. In shadow work, there’s the saying “Having is evidence of wanting.” In other words, no matter how exhausted you are or how resentful you feel of this dynamic, some part of you did want this (otherwise you wouldn’t be in this position).
Some quick examples of reasons why could be:
– You’ve historically enjoyed dating partners who under-functioned because then it allowed you to feel like the one who was the more ‘together’ partner. And in being in that position, there’s a certain sense of power, and even better-than-ness.
– Growing up, if you were the receiver of a highly conditional, performance-based love, then there may be a part of you that feels like you constantly need to do in order to feel safe, lovable, and good enough.
– You might be running a nice guy/good girl pattern that has you believing that so long as you do everything for everyone, all of your needs will be magically met by those closest to you without you having to ever explicitly ask for your needs to be met.
You get the picture. And even if none of these examples resonate with you in the slightest, I would encourage you to sit and take a moment and really reflect on how and why you benefit from this dynamic of enabling an entitled partner. Because, as hard as it might be to identify, it does exist. And if hearing this concept brings up anger or frustration for you, the more emotion it brings up, the more the secret reason wants to be obscured from your conscious awareness. So give it time, and really feel into it.
As soon as you are aware of, and own, your part in this dynamic, the faster it can shift for both of you, in a healthier direction.
4. Be honest about the emotional toll it has taken on you
After naming what you see and owning your part in the dynamic, it’s a good next step to be transparent about how the dynamic has impacted you. As always, from a self-responsible and kind way. No name calling or blaming necessary.
If you feel chronically exhausted as a result of this dynamic, be honest about that. If you have found yourself feeling stressed, feeling unappreciated, or lacking in libido, name it.
At this stage in the conversation, it can be understandable that the person who is hearing this (potentially for the first time) could have some defensiveness come up. The way that you can help that energy diffuse is by speaking to them, on an emotional, vulnerable level, about how this dynamic is affecting you in real time.
5. Name what you would like to see happen
Once all of these points have been laid out, it’s always good to end on a proactive note. In other words, what you would like to see shift, on a behavioural level, in your relationship dynamic.
Would you like the way that you handle your shared money to change? Perhaps the division of household chores? Or maybe something needs to change around how you sexually connect.
Whatever your heart most desires… whatever change you are most deeply craving, name it. Let your partner in on what you would like to see, and then allow them to respond.
Just as they gave you the time and space to speak your truth, you must now allow them to speak theirs.
What does it bring up for them? Do they have frustration or resentment to name? Do they feel like the things you’re asking for are fair, or feasible?
Be Patient: Shifting Entitlement In Relationships Takes Time
As with any dynamic in any intimate relationship, change takes time. While some more superficial shifts can happen seemingly overnight, the majority of deeply ingrained relationship patterns will need a period of weeks or months to really start to shift for the better.
And, if you bring them a desire, or set of desires, that they are unwilling to shift at all, then that is their prerogative, and it is up to you as to whether or not that is a relationship you want to remain in.
As always, direct, self-responsible communication, rooted in a place of love… combined with clean listening, kindness, and patience will lead you to where you want to go.
Old habits die hard. So remember to give your partner (and yourself) the necessary time for these patterns to re-write themselves, and you’ll be experiencing a new level level of love and connection in no time.
And don’t forget to be patient and compassionate with yourself. This is tough stuff, and just the fact that you made it all the way to the bottom of this article tells me that you’re doing great. Wishing you the absolute best of luck in your relationship.
Dedicated to your success,
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