How To Be a Boyfriend Who Isn’t a “Doormat”
My relationship was failing. In fact, this was the very day it would end. My girlfriend and I were at dinner -the same tired spot we always went to- and we were deciding who was going to pay the bill. I insisted it should be me, but then, almost without realizing it, and in front of the embarrassed waitress, she burst out “we both know I wear the pants in this relationship.”
She had a disdainful look on her face. She was done with me. And I knew it.
This was in my early twenties. And like most guys in their first few relationships, I was a doormat. She had lost all respect for me and, looking back, I don’t blame her. I was a pushover, I had no boundaries, I did whatever she wanted, I was afraid of her, and I needed sex from her to validate my appalling self-esteem issues.
None of this was her fault. This was all my shit. And it tore my relationship apart.
So that night, I did the only confident thing I’d done since I met her, I ended it. I told her it was obvious she didn’t want to be with me, and it was best we went our separate ways. On some level, I did this out of fear of her leaving me (in my mind this would be worse), but on another level, I did it for the small glimmer of self-respect inside me.
After all, why would you be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?
Answer: you wouldn’t.
So we broke up, and what followed after was a long period of being single, challenging my fucked up emotions, and moving on to much more healthy relationships – both with myself and with women.
In the process I realized just how it was I came to be such a pathetic doormat of a man, and just how exactly I -and anyone else- could change that for good.
Before I even get stuck into the whole concept of “being a doormat”, there’s something I want to address:
Many guys think that they aren’t “doormats” with women because they act in a few key ways. These are:
Here’s why this is wrong:
These actions are always about being better than her. You’re always first, she’s always second. And you think: that’s how a relationship is supposed to be… Right?
Well, it’s not that simple, and you’re actions betray a psychology that isn’t actually on your side.
You see, when you constantly feel the need to put yourself above some else, this actually suggests you’re afraid of them ever being above you. This indicates a couple of things:
The result of this is that your beliefs and resultant behavior are fundamentally unattractive.
They need to change.
A doormat is a guy who gets walked all over. This isn’t because his girlfriend is a tyrant or a “bitch” (although sometimes that contributes), it’s largely because he has put her on a pedestal, and does whatever he thinks she wants in order to make her happy.
This is usually in the hopes of receiving sexual validation from her.
This kind of guy gets rapidly consumed by his relationship, loses all sense of self, and typically stops seeing his friends as often (if at all). He bores his girlfriend to tears, and she, like any person in her situation would, loses respect for him, and starts treating him badly.
You will have met these guys before. You may even be one yourself.
If so, here’s what you need to do…
Not being a doormat depends on a couple of underlying things acting together at once:
This, in many ways, in foundational. If you aren’t okay being single, then you’ll do everything you can to keep her. Even when it’s unhealthy and causes you emotional suffering.
Understanding that while you may enjoy the comforts of your relationship, being single isn’t so bad and that you actually like it, can be a great help in solving many consequent problems.
If you aren’t comfortable with conflict then you’ll avoid it all costs. Stifling your opinion, your independence, and losing track of your personality.
This is the fast track to being a doormat.
You need to understand that conflict is okay. Expressing your opinion and doing your own thing is okay. Disagreements, while they suck, are natural and healthy. They happen. Accept it and dive in.
If having sex is how you validate your self-esteem, then without doing anything but existing, she holds the keys to your self-worth, happiness, and actions.
Even if you think she doesn’t, and even if she doesn’t realize it – she does.
As long as this relationship to sex lies at the bottom of all your interactions with her, then the vast majority of them will be false, and aimed at getting that precious sexual validation you crave. This will make you bend over backward to get her approval and act in bizarre manipulative ways.
Here’s the reality:
Sex doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean you’re “a man”, it doesn’t mean you’re “okay”, it’s just a physical act that two people do when they like each other. Many times, you do it because you’re bored.
Realize this and try to detach yourself from this need for validation.
This all combines, meshes, and translates into:
This is huge. When you know what you will and won’t tolerate, and these boundaries aren’t based on a desire to get her to “like you more”, “do what you want”, “fear you”, or any other manipulative goal – then you’re coming at your relationship and your life from a much more confident place.
You’re saying “this is who I am” and they can either take it or leave it. Even though you might not want to lose her, you’re ultimately fine either way.
One of the easiest ways to tell a guy sucks at dating is to see how much he tries to agree with everything a woman is saying on a date. The more he agrees with every opinion she has, the more he’s trying to impress her and get her to like him.
Not a good sign.
It’s also fatal to any form of interest or aphrodisiac. But even worse, it degrades his self-confidence and sense of identity.
When you can voice your honest opinion with your partner it means you aren’t prioritizing some false sense of harmony, sex, or her view of you over yourself. It doesn’t mean you insult her, or voice every single little opinion on everything, but it means you aren’t afraid to say what you believe.
This might seem like a small point, but you’d be amazed how many guys hold their tongue and what it costs them internally and in their relationship.
You might want to hang out with some friends. You might want to get some work done. You might want to relax. And throughout it, she might have things she wants that are contrary to all of those. Watching Netflix, going out for dinner, or visiting her parents. Who knows.
This conflict of interests can and will happen, and sometimes you will need to compromise. Sometimes what she wants might be more important or necessary. But not always.
Sometimes you might need to put yourself first. This is fine. This isn’t selfish, this is something every guy needs to do.
But so often, guys do the reverse and do whatever they can to keep her happy, in the hopes she won’t argue with them, leave them, or not have sex with them.
Yet your own life is important and you need to get your own needs met. Sometimes that’ll mean socializing on your own, taking a day off – whatever. Provided your desires aren’t coming from a bad place, there’s no reason not to do this.
And ironically, it’s often better for your sex life. Women like a guy who is independent, despite how much they might claim to the contrary.
I can’t stress this enough. Guys always talk about “being the man”, “being alpha”, “being a leader” and “being in charge”, and they always stress how much these things matter with women.
Here’s the thing.
They are real. And they do matter with women.
But they only come from being okay with who you are, and from a place of respect for other people. The second you start thinking you’re better than others, the second it all falls apart. You might appear like an “alpha” but in reality, it’s just smoke and mirrors to cover for your unconscious feelings of inferiority.
In other words, it’s the same as being a doormat. And you eventually end up with the same results.
It’s not worth it.
Instead, sort out your foundation, be okay with who you are, and start going after the kind of life and relationship you want.
There’s a bunch of different ways to achieve this. One of the simplest ways is practicing brutal honesty with a therapist, working through your issues, confronting your shit, and trying to becoming a better, more emotionally well-rounded version of yourself.
This takes time but can be done at any point in your life. The sooner the better.
The other thing I’ve seen work is spending time on your own and being comfortable being single. This doesn’t mean you live in a cave like a monk, it means you’ve practiced being single, you know how to date, you’re comfortable in your ability to meet women. This takes even more time, but the more you dedicate yourself to it, develop your own style, and become comfortable (even to the point of boredom) with being single, the better your relationships will ultimately be.
It gives you a sense that the grass is fine on either side, so you aren’t really afraid of ending up single or in a relationship, and no matter which you’re in, you’re capable of appreciating what you have.
About John Matich John is a writer from the UK who splits his time between travelling the world and trying to find unconventional solutions to dating and personal development. You can find more from him at www.lifeuncivilized.com.