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Is Coronavirus Revealing You Have a One-Sided Relationship?

Just this morning, I had the pleasure of working with a woman who is in my live coaching group, and she confided that she was having an issue with her boyfriend.

It quickly became clear to me that her needs were being ignored, and that she was ignoring a conversation she needed to have. Something I’m worried too many people are doing right now.

If you’re in a similar situation, where you’re feeling scared to ask for what you need, then you need to watch this video…

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Well, here we are. This T-shirt, these jeans, this belt I’m wearing, accessories: It’s all a lie. I have not looked like this in, not just hours, but days. I’m even, like… Do you see me adjusting my shirt? That’s me sort of trying to hide my newfound belly.

Anyway, hello. Another week in isolation.

There was a woman who I had the pleasure of working with for a little while this morning, who told me of an issue she’s got with her boyfriend who is now long-distance. They live about 30 minutes apart, they’re not seeing each other. I asked her, are they speaking every day? It was just a casual question, I didn’t know that anything would come of it. I said, “Oh, that must be tough. Are you speaking every day?”

She said, “Well, actually we text every day, but we speak on the phone about once a week.”

I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Because I don’t know many people, who, in a relationship, can get by on just one phone call a week. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that. There are many ways to have a relationship and it depends on how each person feels. But I know for me that wouldn’t be nearly enough. So I said to her, “Is that enough for you?” I said, “Is it you don’t like talking on the phone? Does he not like talking on the phone?”

She said, “Well, he doesn’t like talking on the phone.”

I said, “Well, have you talked to him about it?”

She said, “Well, he’s kind of stubborn,” and she kind of almost shrugged that off like it was a cute quality of his.

And I said, “Well, do you want to have that conversation?”

She said, “Well, I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s good for me anyway, because I need to focus on my independence and I think this is actually a good time for me to do that, is to focus on being more independent.”

Now, I’m always interested in those moments where people find ways to square in their own minds something that maybe isn’t meeting their needs. Because clearly, this person – because even when I said to her, “Do you like speaking on the phone?” she lit up. She said, “Oh, I love speaking on the phone.”

I said, “So this is not a situation that’s meeting your needs. I get that you want to be more independent or that you feel that’s something that you could focus on during this time, and that’s wonderful. But there’s a quote from one of my favorite movies, Interstellar, where Matthew McConaughey’s father-in-law says to him, ‘Never trust the right thing done for the wrong reason.'”

And I would apply that in this case that, whilst it may be a good thing for her, and all of us, to focus on our independence and our ability to take care of ourselves or self-soothe at times, in this case it was being used as justification for her not speaking up about her needs, which really wasn’t happening because she was afraid of what might happen if she did.

When we’re afraid to bring up our needs, what is it we’re scared of? We’re scared that we might be seen as high maintenance. We’re scared that it might lead to confrontation. We’re scared that we might seem weak or needy or overly vulnerable and that will be perceived as unattractive. We’re afraid that we’ll be perceived as a nag. At its most extreme, we’re afraid that, rightly or wrongly, rationally or irrationally, us bringing something up could precipitate a breakup.

We’ve pictured the unhappiness of someone leaving, but we’re not associating with the unhappiness we already have in our needs not being met. We are already in pain if our needs aren’t being met in the situation we’re in. We’re not avoiding pain, we are in pain. We’re just in a different kind of pain.

That’s something that can be avoided by, a) approaching something with confidence, with calm. And of course we’re going to have emotion, but try to have some emotional neutrality in the moment, so that you’re able to make your case without losing control to your emotions, where you now get angry or excessively upset when you’re trying to just communicate that, “Hey, this is something that’s important to me. It may not be right or wrong that you don’t want to speak to me as much as I want to speak to you. But it’s not enough for me right now. It’s not enough connection.”

I see a relationship as a blending of two colors. You represent a color, he represents a color.

In a bad relationship that’s imbalanced, where one person holds all the power or is in the driving seat and dictates the rhythm, the routine, the atmosphere, the environment of the relationship, it’s almost like this person has this really dominant color and one person comes along and puts a droplet of their color in there, just to stain that color slightly, but ultimately, it remains this person’s color. So the entire relationship now is the color of this person.

If you’ve ever been in the driver’s seat, you’ve noticed this in reverse. They added a tiny drop of their color to you but ultimately the hue of the relationship, the color of the relationship was your color.

In a really balanced and positive relationship, two colors blend together to create a new color altogether. A beautiful, bright, new color that is the representation of both worlds. Both personalities. Both sets of routines. Both sets of ideas. We, of course, retain our individual colors outside of that, but the relationship’s color is an equal representation of the two. As opposed to this person retains their individual color and also makes sure the entire relationship is their color as well.

So ask yourself this question, whether you’re married, whether you’ve been together a few years, or whether you’re just starting out with someone: What’s the color of your relationship? And is that color representative of a balanced blend of the both of you? Or have you, through a desire to appease, to please, to placate, to hold on to that relationship, allowed it to become 90% their color and 10% yours, all the while pretending to yourself that their color is yours too?

If you’re watching this and thinking, “I want to be braver, this is going to require some bravery and I want to push myself to get outside my comfort zone,” then I invite you to watch a training where I coach a woman on stage and show her exactly how to do that. I think that by watching her, you’ll also see how you too can be braver and get out of your comfort zone. So go to this link, check it out, and I will see you there.

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27 Replies to “Is Coronavirus Revealing You Have a One-Sided Relationship?”

  • That was a super video Matthew. I’m not currently in a relationship but what you say fully supports my recent departure from one. It was hard to see at first but it is 100% true – and the colour analogy makes it very easy to “see” and understand. Thank you. :)
    I do hope you are doing “ok” during these unprecedented times. Virtual hugs.

  • My relationship with a married man now I feel like I need to vanished myself from his life . We were planning to have a future but with this covid 19 around the world make it so impossible and I am giving up.

  • anny how can you be in a relationship and plan a future with a married man?? home wrecker is not a nice trait!

  • I’m in a super new relationship and haven’t seen my boyfriend in over 4 weeks because of the virus. We text every day, neither of us like phone calls in general. The colour description was very interesting, we are both our own unique colours but put together I just see nothing? Probably doesnt help I have a personality disorder..

  • This was a great reminder. My relationship ended a few weeks ago. I’ve been beating myself up about not being more assertive even though I felt like I was bringing things up. Your post made me realize that a large part of blending colors is communication and if one partner denies, dismisses, becomes defensive or downright refuses to communicate, there will be no blending. This end is for the best.

  • This exact thing happened to me and my BF of 5 months. I am a front line healthcare worker. When I asked for my needs of more connection to be met, he said he is not able to support me. Called me needy. Very disappointing and hurtful but being with a partner who is dismissive, non communicative, and blaming is not what I need to feel safe and supported.

    Although it was hard and I’m sure my delivery wasn’t perfect, I’m glad I stood up for myself and had the tough conversation. I find it difficult to express my emotional needs at times. Even if it ultimately led to a breakup.

    Thank you for this video Matthew!

  • I think adding to that since this is a quarantine post is that people are also suffering and losing their entire careers and not getting any financial support. Small businesses do not get unemployment, stimulus and most got denied all those grants and loans cause they ran out. That’s an example as our lives are falling apart having a conversation about needs becomes much more difficult than what this video implies. That’s in a simple two people just staying home and continuing to work. There’s much more going on with men and women losing their entire livelihoods so how do you have those conversations when there is hardship

  • God shot Matt! And I am back after several months:)
    I wonder why women have that kind of communication problems more than men. There must be something psychologically and/or sociologically.
    I have a new flirt maybe just for 2 months. We were just able to meet once. I feel that he has lost his interest for some weeks. I mean it is different. But also, when we talk, we make future plans. I am sure that pandemi and isolation affects him very bad. Also he doesn’t like technology. But, I don’t know the fundamental reason. I don’t want to talk about it because we are very new.
    This is my case. Also, I have similar female and male friends who have same behaviours. Everybody reacts different under these circumstances. Some of my friends have become introverted. They don’t want to communicate much these days. So, it makes me think that he might be one of them. Moreover, men are more physical creatures in general. Maybe not seeing each other physically changes some men’s behaviours (not just my case. Plenty of women live similar things). These aren’t excuses, I know. I just try to find logical reasons. (And there are some men on social media, they just want to talk more and more which makes me bored).
    I will be happy, if you make more video about these topics.

  • I married a man who was his own “color” through our entire relationship. There was never a melding or mixing of our own separate hues. We divorced when he took his color outside of the marital bed and relationship. Please take Matthews advice. There is nothing worse than being together but feeling alone. I would much rather stay my own true vibrant color than be diluted by a relationship that is soul depleting. Stay true ladies…live your best color…whether that is with or without someone. Blessings….

  • Great advice, Matt! Love the analogy with the “color.” I, admittedly, find myself in this kind of relationship. Sigh. I needed to hear this perspective. Hopefully, that other video on bravery will help me to address this relationship imbalance. Much appreciation for all that you do!

  • Thank you for your very positive video. It really cheered me up today as what the woman mentioned basically describes my last relationship before I broke up with him. I asserted my needs regarding communication but it was only met with negativity.

    Your video reassured me it’s not wrong to want a daily phone call. It basically felt like it would only happen on his terms. I decided to leave because I was afraid to marry someone like that.

    I also had this problem with another long distance ex – must be a pattern here.

  • Thank you Matthew for this great video. i had done your retreat 2 years ago and it give me everything i got out of the retreat has helped me so much in my life as whole. In my current relationship in terms of covid-19 impact am like the women you mentioned- my boyfriend and have been thrust into long distance and we would be about 30mins from each other. We speak everyday ; although sometimes i find i don’t want to talk ; and i tell him directly what i need ; he likes that i tell what i need and so far it’s working. A few months ago when he basically quasi moved in for about 2 weeks – i did tell him i needed space and time and time to myself because it was quite intense to have at at my place which is small and does not allow for privacy and he responded well to that and came up with a schedule and would allow each other to be satisfied with time together and self- time . i return the favor for him… so far our relationship is working but i don’t think i would have gotten to this point if i did not apply what i have learned from your programs.

  • Thank you so much for this video Matthew.
    This is kind of the situation I was in as well.

    My fiancé Joshua and I share a tremendous amount of love for each other, but through these weird times, we struggled a lot with one issue.

    Joshua is a gamer, so these times are amazing for him… not because of the horror, but because there is extra time gifted that needs to be spend inside.

    I am a person who feels the constant need of being productive, especially when it comes to the relationship with the person I value the most.

    Every gifted moment, I want to use to grow together, get to know each other better- which I plan on doing for the rest of our lives- and to keep the passion high.

    It seemed that we both stood on the opposite side of a rope, pulling to defend our side. I want more time spend together to grow, he wants more time doing his thing. ( ‘because’, he says, ‘why not’)

    We had several conversations about this case, one tough one. Not because we got angry or anything, but because, even though we really wanted to come to a middle ground,we couldn’t come up with a solution.

    Just a side note… He spends several hours, behind his computer anyway, and I totally think that’s ok. But in this quarantine time, I think it’s important to also use precious hours spend together, to grow.

    We seemed to run around in circles. I wanted to please him, so when he asked if it was ok to get behind his computer, I would put myself aside and say that he should go. He wanted to please me, but I gave mixed signals.

    Yesterday, I got so angry inside about the whole matter, I went for a very long walk.
    I started to go through everything in my head, and was like; ‘we clearly want two different things. Maybe all the love between us, is not enough to make this work on the long term. What if we just continue to live as these two individuals, but can’t melt together as one?’
    It scared the crap out of me.

    I got home and he was waiting for me to talk about my feelings.
    What I thought, would be another long, unproductive conversation, turned out to be two colors melting together as one.

    He told me; ‘you’re my person, you are going to be my wife.
    We are gonna make this work.
    I will need you to tell my when you want to spend time with me, to tell me when you don’t want me to leave when I ask you to.
    Even though it feels like you’re the bad one right now. I need to learn these boundaries, but you will have to help me to set those.’

    It’s hard sometimes to be two individuals, and at the same time being one color. But I wanted to share this to show people it is not impossible. And…. It is so beautiful to create this new color together, and to share it.

    We both still have to learn to practice this everyday. I always found it hard to ask for my needs. I never want to be needy, and it’s also hard for me to HAVE to ask for something. Like if he doesn’t feel the need to spend more time with me, I don’t even want to ask. I don’t want attention only because I asked. But I understand now, there is a learning curve for all of us.

    I watched the interview u did with Esther Perel yesterday, where she also explained,: ‘When you ask for your needs, and he does them, it’s not because he has to. It’s because he thinks you are important enough to give in to those needs.’
    And that was a very important lesson that will be valuable for our relationship!

    Thank you for what you bring to the table Matthew.
    You see, even very good, loving relationships, get a rough ride every once in a while. It comforts me that I can always go back to your videos and lessons. It keeps me accountable to be the best version of myself.

    All the best,

  • This was a great message Matt! How do you think a person can communicate those needs and wants when they’re just dating someone? Kinda similar to setting our standards? that has been my problem.., not knowing when and if it’s my place to ask for those. And say we do decide to talk to them, how do we approach it with better confidence?

  • Yes it did in my case. My man fought with me and demeaned me for no good reason.. and I broke up with him.

  • Thankyou for sharing this video.
    Before this virus thing i was already having problems with my bf, he wasnr talking much and he has new mates who are half his age and do stupid things.
    When this virus hit i had to be healthy for work so asked my bf to physical distance from me, he didnt take that well as he doesnt like being alone. The new mates are at his place across the road every day, smoking and carrying on like a group of kids, i feel they all need to grow up and take this seriously, we are in a small town in Australia without any cases but i think that is luck.
    My bf is making it extremely difficult to have conversation by not txting or ringing and spending all his time with the new mates .
    Did i set my boundaries too high? Am i being to selfish with my time and space? I want to be safe and healthy.
    Any insight is welcome

  • Very interesting analogy. What if the two “colours” are so similar that you cannot say if they have been blend or not, i.e. what if the needs of two people in a relationship seem so similar at a certain point in time that it is hard to tell if all needs have been met?! And what if they change?! My ex and I e.g. were very similar concerning our wishes and needs in the beginning and then apparently he changed (of course to some degree we all do and so did I, but not my defining character traits), but did not speak up about his changed needs. Needless to say, it ended messy.

  • I’m in that same situation. Only difference that I did tell him how my needs weren’t met. He ignored me so now I don’t want This relationship. I don’t need to be begging anyone for love and attention. If it doesn’t come from him, it’s because he isn’t feeling it.

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