Hello, loves! Today I want to talk about a sort of complicated (but extremely valid!) topic…what you should do when your man doesn’t want to do the work.
I don’t mean literal work, like not wanting to do the dishes. I’m talking about when he doesn’t want to do personal development work.
Let me tell you, I have been there. I have been there, and I’ve had relationships not work out because of it. I mean, there were definitely other pieces as well, but that was part of it. So here’s how you actually get your partner to do the work.
Let me just tell you what normally happens. This is what I see a lot with my one-on-one clients: you come in, you start doing all this work, and it’s amazing. Your life is changing. You feel more worthy than you ever have. You’re happier than you’ve ever been. You feel more connected to your body, you feel like your friendships are deepening, everything is just fucking rocking. And what do you want to do then? You want to tell fucking everyone about it. So you go to your partner, and you’re like, “Babe, I’m doing this really cool course. It’s amazing. Today I learned about inner child. Have you ever connected with your inner child? You should. What if you did this?” And when they don’t bite immediately, you jump right into, “Oh, that’s just a projection. Oh, that’s your ego speaking. Oh, that’s a shadow. That’s your superiority shadow.”
Bitch, that’s your superiority shadow! Essentially, you start criticizing them and picking apart every little behavior, telling them everything that’s wrong with them and how they can do it better. And to them, this is coming out of fucking nowhere. All of the sudden, their loving partner is coming in and picking every aspect of their personality apart. Is it any wonder that they tend to react poorly?
Now, I’m not saying this is a conscious thing. I’m not saying this is your fault. No one’s at fault. You’ve been making amazing strides in your own personal development work, and you just want the person you love to experience that too, yeah? But to them, that’s not what’s happening at all.
As someone who works as a coach, it’s very easy to spot other people’s shit. That’s what I do for a living. That’s why people pay me the big bucks, because I can catch all of your blind spots. I can track down the things that you are probably choosing not to see. I can see them and reflect them back to you.
But here’s the thing: you pay me to do that. You ask me to do that. You do not want to do that unsolicited in your relationships. Pointing out someone’s flaws is not the way to inspire them to do personal development work.
Think about it this way: when a friend reads a new personal development book or she finds a new coach, and then she starts telling you all the things that you should be doing and how your life would be better if only you would do this, that, and the other thing, do you want to listen to her? Do you want to work through your shit through her recommendations? No! You hate it! You want to fucking rebel, and you want to chuck that shit out the window. And your partner is probably feeling the same fucking thing.
Another thing to keep in mind: men are way smarter than you give them credit for. Actually, people are way smarter than you give them credit for. Even if you’re not into energy work, everyone is sensitive to energy. We can feel when something is off. When your actions are not aligning with your words, or your words are saying one thing and your energy’s saying another, people can sense it.
The reason I mention that is because I want you to know that your partner can pick up on your subtle manipulation tactics. They notice when you try subtle shit. Say you try dropping The Way of the Superior Man by David Daida on his fucking nightstand. That’s not the way to inspire him to be “more masculine.” Or, if you’re a man listening to this, putting makeup in her drawer is not the way to inspire her to be more feminine. Not that makeup has to do with being feminine, but you know what I mean. This just doesn’t work. It’s not only indirect, it’s actually kind of insulting.
The way that I would approach this is to actually speak from what you desire. Ask for what you want. Be direct. At least it’s honest then, and your partner will likely respect that.
The way that a lot of women go about trying to get their man to do the work is by being kind of subtle and hinting at it or criticizing them offhandedly.
But here’s the thing: in every single criticism, there is a desire. Let that land—in every criticism, there is a desire. If you criticize him for being irresponsible, there’s a desire for him to be responsible.
Instead of coming from a place of criticism, try saying, “What I would love is if you would engage in this with me. It’s actually really important to me. I want to be able to do these practices with you because it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel connected to you. It makes me feel turned on.”
Speaking from actual desire rather than criticism makes a huge difference. It completely changes the way your request is going to be perceived. As soon as you feel criticized or attacked, what do you do? You get fucking defensive and reject whatever they’re saying. So if you want your man to not do that, see if you can soften your requests into your desire. Be honest with him about what him doing personal development work would provide for you.
Listen…once you start doing personal development work on yourself, what usually happens is that either your partner steps up to meet you, or the gap becomes so big that you can’t ignore it.
But the other thing to remember is to have some patience in this endeavor. Your partner isn’t refusing to do personal development work because he knows it’s pissing you off. He’s not doing personal development work because doing personal development work is fucking terrifying.
Doing personal development work requires you to face parts of yourself that you have probably repressed and pushed away for years…maybe even since you were a child. It can be really challenging to face those parts of yourself, so rather than getting all up in your ego and getting rageful about it, can you actually just have compassion for where your partner is at? The more that you pressure, the less likely you are to get your partner to actually get immersed in that process the way you want them to.
Besides that, you also have to keep in mind that doing personal development work isn’t just about effort and desire. There are actual time requirements to take into consideration, too. You’ve chosen to dedicate a portion of your free time to this work, but does your partner even have that time? Does that mean they’re going to have to go out of town for workshops? Does that mean they’re going to therapy every week? They might not have the time to give up to that kind of endeavor. Or does it just look like them communicating better? What would actually “prove” to you that they’re doing personal development work? That’s an important thing to consider, too.
Ultimately, the best way to get your partner to do personal development work is to come to them from a place of genuine desire and honesty. No beating around the bush, no shady manipulation, no subtle nudges, no unsolicited criticism—just tell them honestly what doing personal development work has done for you, and why you would truly love to see them experience those kinds of results in their life, too.
Be sure to connect with me over on Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were. Or head over to my website to learn more about how we can work through your relationship journey together. Are you ready to get off the hamster wheel of going on date after date that goes absolutely nowhere and learn how to date with confidence and clarity? Sign up for Swipe Right, a six-week program for women who want to date like motherfucking queens: https://michellepanning.com/swipe-right
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”