I want a boyfriend, not a coach.

Dear Lisa,

So, my partner does this thing. He likes to “coach” me. If we’re out riding our bikes he’ll be behind me saying things like “You’ve got it, keep up your momentum, etc.” Or he’ll give me advice on how I “should” do something. Example, this morning we were moving rocks, and I didn’t bend quite the way he thought, so he proceeded to show me how to do it properly. These are just some petty little examples and I know he means well. I’ve asked him in some situations to not coach me. I have a really hard time taking any advice he gives me. I HATE IT… what do I do?

–Coach Me Not ( ♀ Victoria)


Dear Coach Me Not,

My guess is that you have a hard time taking the advice he gives you because it challenges you, and as David Deida says in his book The Way of the Superior Man, “only the masculine side of your woman will grow through challenge. The feminine side thrives on support and praise.” He says in the same chapter, called Praise Her that

“Men grow by challenge. As a boy, other boys would challenge you in order to inspire you: “I bet you can’t jump over that fence.” In a place like boot camp, you are told you are a worthless slimedog, and this kind of insult challenges you to be your best. So, as a man, you probably have a masculine habit of challenging people, including your woman, in order to get her to improve or grow.” (Deida, p 61)

You can probably see where I’m going with this. I’m sure he would get better results if he was behind you on his bike saying ‘God, you look amazing pushing up this hill; your legs are incredible.’ Or ‘your thighs are so sexy when you squat like that.’ You’d be right down there, butt to the ground, picking up that rock. Agreed? Unfortunately, while this is annoying, a lot of men struggle with their ability to quel their micromanaging when it comes to a challenge, namely in the physical. Ideally, he learns to challenge himself with the men in his life, and enjoy you just the way you are, praising your femininity and grace.

The deeper issue here is probably that as humans, we pick at other people when we are unhappy with ourselves. I notice that perfectionists, A-Types, or people really struggling to assert their masculinity (both males and females) micromanage when they are unable to accept themselves or their own behavior. It is a form of projection of the our own problems onto someone else and a relinquishing of responsibility.

What to do? More important than anything is that you are able to accept him the way he is if he is unwilling or unable to stop doing this right now. Clarify this for yourself before moving forward with any actions. My suggestion is that you begin to work with this (likely) longer-standing issue of his inability to accept himself and his behaviour. Encourage him to challenge himself, to do what he really wants in the world, to make a strong contribution; even if it is through things that you don’t necessarily take an interest in. He needs to FEEL that he is important and he does that by meeting the challenge set forward by the universe when he was born onto this planet.

To deal with the moment to moment, I wonder what would happen if you relaxed into his advice and followed it, like he’s a tennis coach on one of those sexy books 😉 Or, if you’re feeling cheeky, bend over at the waist with one leg bent, pin-up style and ask him ‘like this?’ with your best doe eyes. It might snap him out of coach and bak into lover where he belongs.

If none of those feel right, begin by remembering the underlying reasons listed above, they will help you to have compassion for where he is at. Accompany these thoughts by saying gently, “I’ve got it hon, thanks.” Eventually, he might get the picture. You could also practice feeling into the real feelings that his comments bring up – fear, inadequacy etc – and let him know in the moment. You could also sit down with him and let him know what you feel NVC styles – ‘When you corrected the way that I was picking up rocks today, I felt distant and closed off. I have a need for empowerment and I’m wondering if you would be willing to hold back your advice until I ask? I’m not a huge fan of direct confrontation, as it is often met with defensiveness, but if both of you are relaxed, and you ask him if you could share something that’s uncomfortable, it does work.

Let me know how it goes,

– Lisa



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