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Two Things NOT to Do in Relationships

z egloff

z egloff

I heard a story the other day that was a great reminder about what not to do in relationships.

The story was about a husband and wife who frequently got into arguments about who changed the toilet paper more.

They were both convinced that they changed the toilet paper way more than the other.

The wife, in an effort to get to the bottom of things – and to prove herself right – started keeping track.

Every time she changed the toilet paper, she put the empty cardboard role in a garbage bag. Eventually, she had a bag full of cardboard roles.

z egloff

z egloff

One day, she got her chance to prove herself to her husband.

They started to get into their usual argument, with both of them asserting that they were the Superior Toilet Paper Changer.

But she had proof!

Victorious, she pulled out her garbage bag full of roles and emptied it onto the floor.

As her husband stared at all the empty cardboard roles, he was astonished.

z egloff

z egloff

From his state of astonishment, he uttered two words.

What were those words?

You’re right?

I’m wrong?


He said:

z egloff

z egloff

Granted, this probably wasn’t the nicest thing he’d ever said to his wife.

But he had a point.

Which brings me to the first thing not to do in relationships:

1. Don’t keep score

z egloff

z egloff

Keeping score is for sports events, not relationships.

When we’re keeping score, we’re watching to make sure the other person is giving their “fair share” before we give ours.

This kind of thinking blocks love. It blocks intimacy.

One great way to let go of the keeping-score mentality is to change your thinking about what you’re bringing into the relationship.

If you think each person is bringing 50%, you’re more likely to be constantly monitoring where you each stand on this percentage.

If you, instead, shift to the idea of each bringing 100%, then keeping score gets thrown out the window.

z egloff

z egloff

Bring all of yourself to the relationship.

To all of your relationships.

100% of your love.

100% of your attention.

100% of your compassion.

Now, you’re in a relationship that’s 1000% better than one where both partners are eyeing the other, waiting to give until they make sure they get their “fair share.”

Our toilet paper friends help illustrate another point, one that leads us to the second thing not to do in relationships.

2. Don’t lost sight of what you’re really arguing about

z egloff

z egloff

It’s never about the toilet paper.

Or the toothpaste cap. Or who takes out the garbage.

It’s always about deeper stuff.

Stuff like fear and vulnerability. Stuff that’s hard to talk about.

So toilet paper and toothpaste caps act as poor substitutes for the real issues that are getting in the way of true intimacy.

In order to discover what those issues are, you need two key factors:

Time and Honesty.

Time to talk it out. Time to figure out what’s underneath the anger and frustration about the “toilet paper” and “toothpaste caps.”

And honesty to be truthful about what all that hidden stuff is.

z egloff

z egloff

If you really want to use Time and Honesty to full effect, there’s nothing better than “I” statements.

“I” statements are trickier than they seem.

In the middle of a difficult discussion, “You” statements (“You should listen better,” “You should stop doing X, Y and Z,” “You should be better”) are often easier to access.

A true “I” statement – “I feel vulnerable,” “I feel frustrated,” “I feel scared,” – leaves no room for the other person to be defensive. It’s just a statement of what’s happening with you.

So there you have it!

No more keeping score. No more getting fooled by arguments about toilet paper.

Bust out the Time and Honesty and start changing the world, one relationship at a time.

Who’s with me?!

z egloff

z egloff

What’s your experience with conflicts and keeping score in relationships? Share your comments below!

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8 Responses to Two Things NOT to Do in Relationships

  1. Sam September 13, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    Fantastic article “Z”, thank you! Peace to All, Sam

    • Z Egloff September 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

      Hi Sam, Thank you! Love and Blessings back atcha, Z :)

  2. Karen Money Williams September 13, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    My relationships changed dramatically when I learned the concept of not making my happiness contingent on what the other person was or wasn’t doing. I admit that’s tricky on a daily basis but is so freeing once we get the hang of it. As I practice finding better-feeling thoughts when something’s happening that I don’t like and as I practice appreciating the heck out of my partner when things are going well, I’ve found more joy in my relationship than I could have dreamed of. As Abe says, “Let ’em all off the hook.” Take total responsibility for your own happiness via your mental focus and then, ironically, watch how much better they “behave.” :)

    • Z Egloff September 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

      “Let ’em all off the hook.” How freeing is that?! I also love that you point out that shifting our mental focus has the added benefit of supporting more harmonious behavior in others! :)

  3. Cindy September 13, 2016 at 8:00 am #

    Wow, you really made it simple to see how easily it can be to make a statement without being rude or judgmental! Thank you!

    • Z Egloff September 13, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

      You’re welcome! It really is simple, though sometimes challenging to execute – but practice makes perfect! :)

  4. Jill Shinn September 13, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    This is so true. And nipping adversarial patterns in the bud when they first arise is critical, because the moment when we fall into a distructive groove marks a lot of armoring,blaming, and suffering down the road. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it beats collecting toilet paper rolls! Thanks, Z.

    • Z Egloff September 13, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

      That’s a great point, Jill. Nipping things in the bud has huge benefits down the road! :)

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