Many women and some men are afraid to say or do the “perceived” wrong thing while dating as they believe it risks rejection. I say, “Bring it on–you do not have anything to lose!” The same thing in relationships, when one or both partners are too afraid to share or ask questions.
No one wants to upset the apple cart because doing so means you cannot control the outcome. In other words, when you perform based on your assumptions about how someone may react, you are trying to control the situation. With upsetting the apple cart, you are expressing your truth (no blame) and taking responsibility for your feelings. It is the most authentic thing you can do.
Do you ever shut down, shut off or shut up in response to something because dealing with rejection is too painful? It’s not fun. It’s constricting and makes you act in weird ways. When you have a fear of rejection or being invalidated, you may believe the best way to handle it is to not say or do anything to upset the apple cart. You settle for breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs meaning you accept small amounts of attention, interest, affection, etc. because you believe their needs and feelings matter more than yours. Of course, you’re basing this on an assumption about their needs because you really have no clue what they think or feel.
If you ever want to feel happy, at ease, fulfilled, authentically you, at peace, not needy, etc. around your partner or date, then upset the apple cart!
In my old days of dating, I would avoid asking questions which might make me appear needy (when I was really just being inquisitive). In a relationship, sometimes I wouldn’t say a word without thinking through my strategy because I was trying to avoid a fight or loss. In essence, I was choosing to stew inside and feel resentful.
Many people prefer to feel like shit instead of facing possible rejection. It’s like having shit in both hands. The fear of loss is so big that when you go on a date with the intention of having a long-term relationship, then find out your date is just dating with no interest in a relationship, you shut down, shut up or shut off instead of sharing what you’re looking for. You find yourself pandering to this person. Why? So this person feels okay with their choice to simply date, and you get to feel like shit for wasting your time. Or you feel like shit because you work your ass off trying to change their mind.
This is how breadcrumb relationships start, and it’s the same cycle over and over. Until you truly value yourself and trust yourself to handle your own emotions, you may never upset the apple cart.
When you upset the apple cart, conversations look very different. Let’s say your date asks you what type of food you like, so you answer, “I love sushi, but I really don’t like hamburgers.” Your date replies, “Oh, I love hamburgers and I’m not a fan of sushi.” Upsetting the apple cart might be you laughing out loud and saying something funny, or acknowledging the difference and what meaning that has for you. If you are used to breadcrumbs, you may start justifying your love of sushi so it doesn’t seem so different. You may even take back what you said and go, “Just kidding, I actually like hamburgers too!”
The issue with going the breadcrumb route is it doesn’t get better until you upset the apple cart. Until you say what’s true and your actions match. Until you say how you really feel even if they don’t understand, take it personally or don’t want to hear it. You say it so your mind hears YOU valuing your feelings. If you don’t value them, how can anyone else?
When upsetting the apple cart you ask the harder questions–questions that lead to potential rejection or loss, but also closer to what you want. I have a friend who decided she only wanted to date men who were interested in getting married. She met a guy at a party and bluntly asked, “What’s your FICO score?” because that was important to her. They have been happily married for years.
Upsetting the apple cart means NO ONE is guessing. You are an open book with nothing to hide. You proudly wear your flaws, your preferences, your awesome imperfection. Do this and I guarantee someone will find you utterly delightful.
The same thing can be applied to relationships. Either you and your partner grow together or apart. You always have the choice to fully express your truth, your vulnerability, your real likes and dislikes… no matter how it is received. For example, you might say, “I realize I may have given you the wrong impression when it comes to sex. I prefer it _______ rather than the old vanilla way. I put a shield up because I felt vulnerable, but now I’m ready to own what I like!”
How much more fun is upsetting the apple cart? IT’S FREEING. It is scary because it may mean loss, but wouldn’t you rather be in a relationship with someone who thinks your morning breath is fantastic, and because everything about you is so real? Okay, maybe not morning breath (although my husband doesn’t mind), but to deny yourself that freedom in a relationship is something you will eventually regret. The idea that your feelings and needs don’t matter undermines every attempt to speak your truth, leaving you back at square one.
You have to start somewhere, so start small. Express things that don’t feel SO scary, but still provide an uncomfortable element of uncertainty because you aren’t trying to control the other person’s reaction. Feel the difference in speaking your truth instead of saying what is expected, even if you’re afraid he/she might not want to hear it.
Everyone you are with provides an opportunity to upset the apple cart by letting go of the shackles that bind you to playing small, going along to get along or doing whatever necessary to avoid rejection. Let go of the breadcrumbs; leave them for the birds.
Embrace rejection. It’s actually a favor to you if they end up leading you away from what you want.
On a side note–if you’re in LA on December 8, 2018, please join me for my STOP THE DATING B.S. AND GET IN A REAL RELATIONSHIP Workshop. It is all about upsetting the apple cart while leaving breadcrumbs, dating rules and other bullshit behind.