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Lady Gaga recently opened up about feeling undervalued in her relationship with ex-fiancé Taylor Kinney. “Women love very hard…and sometimes, I don’t know that that love is met with the type of dignity that we wish it would be met with,” she said. “We [women] just want you to love us as deeply and as wholesomely and as fully as we love you.”
Now, her Million Reasons lyrics appear to be so telling; in a powerful and desperate ballad, the singer seemingly is crying out for her lover to give her just one reason to stay in her relationship. It’s a feeling women – and some men – are all too familiar with. At times, we feel lost in our relationships, under-appreciated in a fast, busy world and as a result, even bitter towards our partners for not making us feel the most simple and yet most complex of human emotions: love.
“There are many reasons women commonly feel under-appreciated by men,” says psychologist Gemma Cribb (equilibriumpsychology.com.au). “One of the main reasons is women are often conditioned to be expressive, to talk about their feelings where as a lot of men are taught that having and sharing feelings is a weakness. Because women don’t see their men express their love in the way they are familiar with, they assume it’s not there.”
This notion, Cribb says, can lead to a big disconnect in the relationship. But perhaps most surprising is it’s likely the man may also feel “under-appreciated and not loved fully for who he is and what he has to give.” “Some men feel they are working so hard to show they care, through contributing financially and practically and don’t often feel this is met with the respect they feel they deserve.”
According to Cribb, it all comes down to prioritisation, differences in values and the fact females generally take things more personally than they should. Here, Cribb gives four tips on how to find that one reason Lady Gaga was searching for.
1) Tell him directly and specifically what he could do to make you really feel loved. Your man may not have the same needs for the types of expression of love that you do and he may have no idea what would please you, even if it seems very obvious to you.
2) Create reminders or a regular space for this type of exchange in the relationship. Put a list of nice things he could do/say on the fridge, create a ritual of sharing what you appreciate and love about your partner over the dinner table or before bed, or schedule a regular date night. We are creatures of habit. I’ve seen very loving and committed partners agree to make changes and fall back into old habits three weeks into the commitment. Finding a way to remind yourself and cue the new behaviour is just as important as the willingness to change in the first place.
3) Start noticing and appreciating the things he does do rather than what he is not doing. What does he share with you or do for you that he wouldn’t do for a friend or stranger? When we focus on the negative aspects of any situation, we often over-generalise and begin to see the whole situation as negative, filtering out the good parts.
4) Be vocal and ask for appreciation for your efforts in the relationship. For example, “I spent an hour on the phone with your mother today because I thought it would help you, can I have a hug thank you please!” We are often taught that if we have to ask for something, then it’s not genuine or worth having and that our partners should read our minds. This is totally unhelpful. It is important in all parts of life to assertively ask for what you need, and if what you need is thanks, then without blaming or criticising, ask for it!