On Being a Puppet-Master and People Pleasing…

I’ve been with my partner for 14 years. I can, in some instances, predict how he will respond to my words and actions. I realize that how he reacts is a result of his thinking about my words and actions – and not my actual words and actions – but it feels like there is “causation” there. I do x, he says x … rinse, repeat.

Because of this, I find that I do and don’t do things – to get the corresponding response from my partner. In typing this, I just realized this may be the definition of “people pleasing”. 😉

Anyway – my question is… How does one do what they want, when they know that the response will be negative – even understanding that the response is from the thoughts of a person, not my actual words/actions? For example, it’s easy to not “disagree” with someone – by keeping my words/actions “agreeable” to that person. I become their image of “good” – so I create an agreeable response to me. When I do what I want, I’m sometimes outside of their image of good – so they have a disagreeable response to me. Because I’ve had the experience of how their thoughts work, I know how to create (or not create) a specific thought in them.

Knowing this (and feeling like a puppet-master) … what do you suggest? If I’m fully “me” (without editing my words/actions for the benefit of my partner’s response) … there’s going to be some new disagreement. While I’ll be fine with it… and even understand that this new disagreement exists in my partner’s head… his thinking will cause him emotional pain. He’ll make himself upset. But it feels like I can keep this from happening – by simply remaining in the safe box that I’ve been in.

What would you say to someone in this situation? Do you get out of the box and just deal with your partner and his new thoughts? This feels like me stretching beyond who I’ve been … because I know his thoughts and reactions are his, not mine … but feeling they’re tied together at some level … has me wondering where my responsibility lies in all of this. Am I only responsible for my own thoughts … or do I bear some responsibility for the thoughts of others?