Are You Demanding? Do You Hate Demands?By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 16, 2012
How do you respond when someone makes demands of you? How do you respond when someone says no to your demand?
"If you ask something of someone and you are upset over their response, then it wasn't a request, it was a demand." - Michael E. Angier
Most of us hate being demanded of. We don’t like being put in the position of feeling we have to say ‘yes’ in order to not run into another’s upset with us. Sometimes, to delay the negative response, we might say ‘yes’ and then not do it, hoping that the anticipated anger will never come. We might even mean ‘yes’ in the moment we say it, but because most of us hate being controlled by another, we might unconsciously resist doing what the other person has asked us to do.
Whether something is a demand or a request has nothing to do with HOW it is asked. Someone can say to you in a sweet calm voice, “Would you mind doing the dishes?”, but if they get angry, hurt or blaming, when you say “No, I don’t have the time right now,” it‘s actually a demand. On the other hand, someone can make the same request in a fairly harsh tone, but if you let them know you can’t do it just then, and they say, “Oh, okay,” with no negative energy attached, you know that it really was a request, not a demand.
It’s not always easy to request, rather than demand, something of someone who is important to you. Most of us are invested in the outcome and not willing to feel helpless regarding our lack of control over others.
Brent and Claire
I often see this situation regarding sexuality in committed relationships. For example, Brent wants to make love with his wife Claire, but he is also afraid of rejection. He tends to take it personally when his wife says ‘no’ and then he responds by getting angry, hurt or withdrawn. Understandably, Claire doesn’t like being demanded of. She feels unloved when Brent doesn’t care about how she feels and punishes her instead. For a long time, Claire gave in, to avoid Brent’s anger and withdrawal, but recently, giving in became intolerable to her. She has let Brent know that she will no longer make love with him until he can be caring and understanding about her feelings when she says no, rather than angry, hurt and withdrawn.
Very distressed with Claire’s decision, Brent consulted with me. I helped him to stop taking Claire’s feelings as a personal rejection of him, and instead to compassionately care about his own feelings as well as hers. Brent came to recognize that his demands of Claire came from his own self-abandonment—primarily from his self-judgments. He saw that when he judged himself harshly, he felt so bad about himself that he wanted Claire to make love with him to let him know he was okay. When he learned to value himself rather than judge himself, he no longer felt needy for sex as validation. Now he could approach Claire with love rather than with neediness, and was fine cuddling when she didn’t feel like making love.
Claire, who deeply loves Brent, rediscovered her desire for him due to no longer being demanded of to care-take him. Now, because she feels completely free to say no without punishment, she more often than not says yes, and even finds herself initiating their lovemaking.
Brent could not let go of demanding, even though it wasn’t working, until he learned to take loving care of himself. Demands are often an indication of self-abandonment—a way of making the other person responsible for you. If you want to shift from demanding to requesting, then you need to learn how to take loving care of yourself, which is what practicing the Inner Bonding process teaches.
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Attend to the difference between love and approval. Approval comes and goes, while love is constant. We can manipulate approval by doing things "right" but love from others is always a free gift that is beyond our control. We convinced ourselves that we can have control over getting love, but are you sure this is true?
By Dr. Margaret Paul