Thursday, November 12, 2009

Firing a Bad Partner from Your Relationship or Marriage

What do you do when a romantic partner or life partner shows you that they are a detriment to your life and instead of supporting you and growing with you, want to destroy you as they destroy their self? This is a dark subject, and probably the darkest edition of this newsletter I have written, but it’s one you won’t want to miss, no matter how happy you are, because it has relevance -- and possibly purpose – in every part of each of our lives.

This is a sad day for me, because I have to “fire” a reader for the first time. That’s right. There is a reader who is such a loser with such a defeatist attitude that he refuses to be helped, and I can no longer afford the time and energy to try to help someone who so obviously doesn’t want to be helped. However, rather than sit and lament, I’m going to turn it into a relationship lesson so that all the rest of you may learn something from this experience.

My policy is to not reprint letters without the permission of the writer, a courtesy that I have not seen anyone else practice on any other newsletter, but I am going to reprint part of this reader’s letter today and give him a fake name, because loser or not, I’ll not violate his privacy or anyone else’s. In fact, the fake name I’m going to give him is simply “Loser,” not because he disagrees or asks questions, but because he’s too busy denying anything could work for him to try anything or listen to the answers to his questions. People like this, in any part of your life, are a drag and a drain. Here’s an excerpt from his letter:

Hello again, David,

As usual, I can’t see why you think that this could possibly work to any productive purpose. Why should I go through the trouble of faking a “naughty boy” act for a women to get her to like me better, or try any of this other stuff you keep harping about? Even if this stuff does work for some buff young stud muffin, why would I think this would work for me, being overweight, middle-aged and balding? If all you experts have so much wonderful advice to give, why isn’t everybody happy? If your advice is so good, why don’t you send it to me and let me pay you for it after it works for me instead of making me ask you for a refund?

(Several more paragraphs of self-defeating negativity omitted here to spare you…)


I sent him the following direct response:

Dear Loser,

As of today, you have been on my mailing list for 22 days. On 17 of those 22 days, you have e-mailed me stating that nothing I’ve recommended could possibly work, yet asking me for a free copy of my book. Listen up, because this is the last free advice or other favor I’m going to waste my time giving you:

You’re attitude isn’t that of an achiever, or even a skeptic or a pessimist; it’s truly that of a loser. You’re insecure about being unattractive because of your increasing age, weight, and hair-loss, and rather than taking the achiever’s path of looking for a solution, you’re taking the coward’s path of looking for confirmation that you’re hopeless and therefore can’t be expected to do any better so you won’t have to try.

I’m not going to apologize for being blunt about this, because the 17 letters I’ve already sent you to try to help you see, among other things, that I am middle-aged, overweight, and losing my hair yet quite happy have produced nothing but frustration for either of us – for me, because you don’t want to improve, and for you, because I won’t be your enabler and confirm for you that any effort you might make would be wasted.

I however, will waste no more effort with you; I’ve spent more than a full work-day trying to help you see that you can be attractive to your wife and everyone else, and you refuse to even try to listen or understand, let alone try to do anything to make it happen. I have removed you from my mailing list, and ask that you don’t reinsert your name unless and until you decide that you want some help being more than what you are instead of confirmation that “not good enough is good enough.”

In short, your fired, and if you don’t get off your butt and realize that you can make a change and can lead a productive and happy life by doing nothing more than changing your attitude to that of a man and doing what comes natural afterwards, your wife and employer will likely be considering the same action. My list of readers is for achievers, heroes, and winners, not cowards, whiners, or losers.

David Cunningham

Folks, there are several lessons here. First, I hope it’s crystal clear that nothing I did or said was done to punish this man; I was indeed trying to help him, and spent a little over nine hours reading and writing to him to try to get him up on his feet and get him moving. I counsel, coach, and consult for $130-$450 per hour, depending on the project and expertise required, and have plenty of work with plenty of customers, so I don’t need a $39 book sale bad enough to work one hour for it, let alone over nine, and I really wanted to see the guy develop some self-esteem and accomplish something.

Doom, gloom, laziness, and cowardice are insidious foes that can slowly creep into the lives of the best of people when they are having a weak moment, and slowly erode their self-esteem until there is nothing left of them. It can happen so slowly that you never see it happen, rather like the frog who would jump if dropped into a pot of boiling water but would lie still and boil to death if placed in cool water and slowly heated on the stove until it boiled.

I sincerely hope that if I started exhibiting this behavior, there would be someone around to call it to my attention and give me a chance to recognize and correct it. That is why I said what I said. I said it bluntly as men must have it to take it seriously, yet also left the door open for him to return if and when he gets his mind and attitude right and is fit to participate in any kind of self-improvement instead of blocking his e-mail address.

That is the second lesson. When somebody wants help and is willing to participate in it, go for it if you can afford to and want to, but you cannot allow someone, no matter what kind of plea they make to you, to dump their problems on you and expect you to fix it for them when they are not willing to be a part of the solution and work for it.

In a relationship, the most flagrant examples of this would be:

• The addict who won’t stop using…(right Larry?)

• The abuser who won’t seek help to address the problems that make them abusive…(right Mike, Gene, and Warren?)

• The liar who would endure ten times the repercussions of a lie rather than tell -- or face -- the truth…(Right Noel, Will, John, Jake, and Louis?)

• The self-validating self-deceiver who would spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on weight loss drugs and supplements and blame the drugs when they kept gaining weight because they also maintained a poor diet and didn’t exercise…(right Garrett, Boyd, Dallas, and David?)

• The chronic complainer who always has a gripe to express but never has a single word to say about anything they have actually tried or even would be willing to try to fix it... (right about a quarter of my mailing list?)

These kinds of people, no matter how they approach you, can do nothing but destroy your life if you let them, and you have to cut them off, even if you have made the mistake of marrying them, if you are ever to find true happiness. You can’t take responsibility for curing a problem they don’t want to cure.

Some would say that is a cruel attitude, but I submit that it is not cruelty but justice, as they are getting exactly what they have earned. It is also justice that if they should manage to turn their life around that you give them an opportunity to show they have achieved it. You should celebrate it with them if they have done so instead of holding an eternal grudge based on some ridiculous emotional idea like “they didn’t think me important enough to straighten up for me.”

People with problems fix their problems for themselves, and for nobody else, ever, under any conditions. That is the meaning of the old saying about leading a horse to water but not being able to make them drink. They will drink if and when they are thirsty, not when you tell them you want them to drink because you want to be that important to them that they would do it for you.

I started “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” with a set of guidelines and questions to help you evaluate yourself, your partner, and your relationship for that very reason. Love can’t happen and attraction doesn’t matter in the least if you are bound to a person that cannot allow their self or you to be happy. You must recognize such a person, whether it is you or your partner, before any progress toward fixing the problem can be made.

Whether something’s “a little off” or there’s a pool at your office in which people are betting on who in your relationship dies first and how, there’s help in identifying and fixing it in "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage." Download your copy today at
In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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