Nice Girls Just Don't Get It: 99 Ways to Win the Respect You Deserve, the Success You've Earned and the Life You Want
By Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., Carol Frohlinger
Look, life can be unfair. As we've already said, we don't always got to choose the people we have to deal with on a daily or weekly or yearly basis. Nice girls, faced with this reality, passively accept it. They don't realize that although they may be stuck in a relationship they didn't willingly choose, that doesn't mean they have to sublimate their interests and needs.
Take, for example, the teacher who isn't a good fit for your child. She isn't abusive but she intimidates your child to the point that he doesn't want to go to school. You've spoken with the principal and learned that the school's policy is to deny reassignment to another teacher in these circumstances. So what can you do? You could appeal the policy, but that will take time. You could move your child to a different school, but that would undoubtedly cause a great deal of disruption in his life and doesn't guarantee that he will click with the new teacher either. You could home-school your child-but you realize that as much as you love your child, you also value your own sanity. Or you could work to create a relationship with the teacher that's "good enough" to get your child through the school year. In short, you can decide to love the one you're with.
We often find ourselves in similar situations where the options for dealing with those people with whom we'd rather not have a relationship are either limited or unattractive. It might be that you inherited a roommate you never would have chosen, yet the apartment is conveniently located, the rent is reasonable, and moving would be time-consuming. Or you might work for a boss who's difficult, yet the job pays well, the benefits are good, and you're learning new skills. Or you may be married to someone with whom you're no longer in love, but don't want to divorce for any number of legitimate reasons.
That was Jill's case. She and Dan had never been madly in love, but were content in their marriage. Once they had children, though, they seemed to drift further and further apart until no real relationship remained. Jill decided, though, that she had no desire to divorce Dan, for several reasons. Jill, a product of divorce herself, wanted her children to have an "intact" family. Plus, both she and Dan were mild-mannered people who rarely argued, so there was no daily rancor or drama. And she knew the financial reality-even if the costs of divorce are contained, each party's standard of living is likely to decrease postdivorce. From I ill's point of view, the situation she was in was preferable to the alternative. So what did she do? She didn't just sit back and wallow in self-pity. That would have been the nice girl move. She made the best of it. Jill stopped expecting romance from Dan and settled for friendship instead. She and Dan made joint decisions about their children and their money but kept one another emotionally at arm's length.
When their alternatives aren't good, winning women make the situation in which they choose to remain work. The fact is, not making a choice is a choice. And a perfectly okay one, if made for the right reasons. That said, if you elect to maintain a less than ideal relationship for any reason, then you have the responsibility to make peace with it.
Make It Work for You
Know what your alternatives are. Before you decide you have to make lemonade out of lemons, do some brainstorming. Ask yourself, "What else might I do about this?" In some situations, you have to know what your rights are-knowledge gives you power. Then eliminate the impractical options or choices less desirable than the status quo.
Accept that you've got lemons. Once you've made a decision to stick with things as they are, get over the fact that the situation isn't ideal. Few are.
Make the lemonade. Winning women don't just make the best of an imperfect relationship, they find a way to motivate the other person to do so as well. For example, while it may seem that the teacher holds all the cards, she probably would prefer that you not visit with the principal to express your concerns, so letting her know that's a possibility could go a long way in getting her to clean up her act. Or because the roommate you're not crazy about may need your portion of the rent to afford the apartment, she may be willing to stop leaving her clothes all over the living room.
Reconsider now and again. Life is dynamic. Periodically reconsider your alternatives to determine whether anything has changed. If your roommate starts dating a guy you like even less than you like her and he begins to spend a lot of time at your apartment, plan B might suddenly become the more attractive choice. Or if you win the lottery, you can put your child in the most exclusive private school in your neighborhood. Then again, if your choices remain the same after reconsidering your options, learn to love the one you're stuck with.