I read a fascinating article yesterday on re-framing relationships. A woman posted a question about an abusive ex-boyfriend who, in the past, was successful in manipulating and completely dominating her in the relationship. Now that they were no longer together, she has found her own strength of character and felt that she was no longer that girl whom he could easily manipulate as he used to in the past. But she had one concern; she was afraid that an upcoming engagement, which he was supposed to attend would be a repeat of his past behaviour and she didn’t know how to interact with him and not come off as the same person whose buttons were so easily pressed in the past. She wanted to show him that she was stronger and a new person.
A poster named D answered her very eloquently and offered her the approach of framing. He advised her to approach him as if they had just met since she was a new person and if he began to push her old familiar buttons to acknowledge the past, advise him that she is not interested in engaging in that behaviour then leaving his presence. In essence re-framing the relationship dynamics so that she is in charge and sets the pace of how he interacts with her from that moment forward. By acknowledging his attempts than rebuffing them she was showing him new behaviour that he was not expecting from her thus throwing him off-balance. Once he is successfully off-balance she re-frames the relationship by letting him know through her words (what she won’t tolerate) than her actions by walking away. It leaves the ex-boyfriend wondering if his actions were so bad that you have suddenly done an about-face and rejected him.
I read with anticipation and a light bulb went off in my head half way through his explanation because I realized I had done this with my ex when he contacted me in July to request a new friendship and apologize for his ratty behaviour back in May. I re-framed the relationship by rejecting his friendship and letting him know why (I gave you a chance based on who you were at that moment and you blew it I can’t, in good faith, allow you to do the same thing to me again-it’s just not in my best interest), than I let him know what my new actions were which was to walk away (I’m going to move on and be happy-I want to laugh and smile and enjoy my summer and my life because I have a lot to be happy about), I wished him well and told him Goodbye.
Than, suddenly my dream made sense. The reason I dreamt that he was at a distance, perplexed is because I re-framed the relationship and made it on my terms, than I walked away thus forcing him to look at himself and see the person that I saw him to be (a liar, cheater, totally undesirable for what I want in a man nor what I expected him to be) not who he wanted to see himself as (the good guy). Totally unexpected. I’m sure he braced himself for the possibility that I would reject his offer but I don’t think he expected me to re-frame the dynamics of it all. I think he expected me to be emotional and rake him over the coals for how he treated me in May (emotion was one of my predictable hot buttons) but I didn’t. I let him know why I didn’t want a friendship (the cheating, the childish behaviour afterwards) in a calm rational manner.
My only regret with my successful re-framing is his answer left the impression that he would be back and I didn’t completely reaffirm that the door was indeed closed when he replied “I’ll give you your space”. I don’t know why. Maybe I was feeling breathless for doing what I had imagined to do all along but didn’t have the courage to do. It’s as if the words rolled effortless off my brain and into my finger tips as I texted it all. I don’t know.
I plan to re-search re-framing a bit more and of course whatever I find I will share with you lovely ladies and gentleman. I know there are men who view my blog as well. I welcome everyone.
What are your thoughts on re-framing? Have you tried this and how did it work out for you?