Am I a Bad Guy After my Last Relationship? (And How to Improve as a Partner)

After your last relationship, you’re convinced you might be a bad person.

After all, your ex pretty much called you an unemotional, heartless, distant, selfish partner.

The weird part of it all is on some level, you kind of believe them. You don’t walk around the earth calling yourself that, but on some level you think they’re kind of onto something.

But you’re here because you don’t want to believe that what they said was true. You want to see yourself as a loving, kind, and giving person. (Or whatever other adjectives that sound good to the soul.)

You’ve clicked on this page as you’re looking for an answer to this question: is my ex right about those hurtful things? If so, how can I be better?

As a breakup coach, I get a lot of inquiries about this, so I figured I’d address a really question when it comes to previous and current relationships.

Let’s get a few things straight before we begin

You’re here because you’ve actually listened to your partner (or ex partner) and want to find out how to take what they’ve said under advisement. Right? That shows growth. You’ve clicked on this article to grow.

You’re also considerate for trying to seek improvement after hearing what your ex has said.

And you’re wanting to empathize with your partner, because—who wants to be in a relationship with someone who is selfish and unemotional?

So right off the back, you’re considerate; showing a level of empathy'; and actually listening to your partner’s concerns.

From where I stand, you’ve initially inquired about your selfishness, or inability to take your partner’s needs into consideration; but here we are with a few accurate adjectives to describe you, and we haven’t even begun.

So now what?

Back to our original predicament, you’re concerned you’re actually those hurtful things your partner said to you. On some level, yes—you don’t love to snuggle, and yes, maybe you do work a lot and don’t make as much time to relax with your partner. Does that make you a bad partner? No.

Does that mean you’ve got a demanding schedule? Yes.

Does it mean that you get too hot for night-time cuddles and prefer to get a full night’s rest? Yes. Does that make you emotionally distant? Not necessarily.

But these are concepts worth exploring. It is important to listen to what people are saying, without judging yourself in the process. There is a way to look at it objectively without looking at it with a hurtful tone. (Easier said than one, but we will get there.)

The Golden Rule when it comes to listening to our partners’ opinions

Always remember that what people say is a reflection of their own model of the world.

I often catch myself calling my partner out on things that I believe, and not what is actually true about what’s happening. I have my own interpretation of the behaviour or words based on my own world view.

If I’m feeling insecure, I might call my partner out for looking at a woman and perceiving that he is interested in her.

But if on another day I’m feeling sexy and confident, I might notice that my partner has the same level of appreciation for good style on a woman.

Two different days, two different mindsets that I am experiencing, and two very different interpretations. Same person (me).

If I don’t assess my own thinking and feeling when I talk to my partner, it will look like blame. It’ll be automatic.

Blame, in most cases, is the cause for uninvestigated personal thinking, as I call it.

Again, when I think my partner is “being” a certain way, it’s me who decided that. Even if others agree, many also won’t.

Consider this: have you ever been told that you overthink? But if you have the same conversation with someone else, they might call you introspective or a deep thinker? This is because they’re seeing things based on their model of the world, and their own personal thinking.

A deep thinker will recognize deep thinking in another person.

An overthinker might be frustrated by their own overthinking, and identify that in others. Or, they might be annoyed by a parent who overthinks and worries, and projects that onto you when you speak.

It’s up to them how they interpret what you say. It’s really not about you.

Tying it all together

Okay, before we get to addressing if your ex is right, we also need to address the golden rule, and understand that on a deeper level.

There are only two modes we operate in: fear and love.

When I’m being loving, I’m open to hearing feedback, i’m patient, and I am at peace with things.

When I am in fear-mode, I’m scared, I’m trying to “fix” things, and I’m trying to control. I’m caught up in my thinking, and considering all the “should-haves,” “could-haves” in my life and relationships.

With every decision we make, there is a love or fear label attached that is governing my actions and thoughts. It’s the undercurrent of my thinking, or lack thereof. I talk a lot about this in my coaching.

Love is a state in which you feel present and experience no thoughts about things.

Fear is that state where you feel overwhelmed by your own thinking.

You’ve probably noticed when you’re having an awesome time with friends, you’re not actually aware of any thoughts happening.

And then you have moments when you’re by yourself and you’re overcome with intrusive thoughts about the future, or the past.

Interesting, right?

You might be over there right now in fear mode that you aren’t lovable, and won’t find a great partner because of the adjectives your partner described you with, and that’s why you’re Googling for a solution to this issue. This is just a thought, and not at all an accurate representation of the future.

It’s not accurate because your partner who was in serious fear mode, said all those things. Those aren’t things people say when they are being loving and secure with themselves. I’m sure when they were very happy in a moment, they made it clear how special you are to them.

But on the other hand, you’re worried those things hurtful words might be true, but when you’re happy and enjoying your time, you know that it is so true, and that you are a loving person who isn't any of those things your ex said.

Again, your ex said those things because they were in their own version of fear mode.

But if you make the time, you’ll see that what they said was just a reaction they had to what was said or done.

Conclusion

Simply put, what our ex said is a reflection of their own mental state. They were hurt, angry, sad, and they said things about you without looking at their own thinking.

And how you think about what you heard is a reflection of your fear mode, and some childhood conditioning. A lot of what I do with my clients is discussing how our conditioning affected our present-day relationships in very subtle and subconscious ways.

You’re not a bad person, selfish, or judgmental. You are literally doing the best you can with what you’ve got, and you’ve taken a big step just looking into your thinking. Not everyone does this—but you did.

If you’re interested in doing some deep, transformational coaching to uncover those blocks that are standing in your way of being the partner you know yourself to be, reach out to me and let’s work 1:1 together.

Nancy Deen