It seems to be a natural human instinct to turn the Golden Rule on its head and do unto others what we really did not like them doing to us.
He left you waiting in a restaurant for 20 minutes? Surely he will straighten up and fly right if you show up late for the next thing he schedules.
She rejects your foreplay? Just show her who’s boss by refusing to kiss her, hug her, or hold hands with her.
He said no to your plan to return to college? Make him change his mind by saying no to one of his dreams!
It doesn’t work. It’s not loving. And it’s likely to get you a response you don’t expect.
Just for a moment, assume you’re dealing with someone who truly loves you. If they show up late, it’s surely not to be mean or disrespectful. It’s either because their idea of time is a lot looser than yours or because they were delayed by something so important or out of their control that it kept them from someone they love and a meal they looked forward to. Unless, of course, you kept them waiting previously and now they’re trying, foolishly, to get you to see how hurt they were. It didn’t work, did it?
It’s the same with sex. Ask yourself how you would explain being turned down for sex if you knew for certain that the person turning you down actually adores you and trusts you. Is meanness the only reason anyone ever turns down sex? No. Perhaps she was sparing you the details of her rumbling intestines and explosive diarrhea. Perhaps she was paying attention to a stirring child you did not hear. Or maybe tomorrow’s intense day at work was so busy in her brain that she simply could not get into it. Or she’s still upset about some disagreement you two have not yet resolved. Will your relationship improve if you withdraw from her? Will she even make the connection with what happened earlier, when her mind was elsewhere? Not likely. And withdrawing isn’t likely to lead to her initiating anything. She’ll be too busy wondering what it meant.
How about dreams? If someone who still really loves you says no to a dream of college, would the reason be selfishness? It seems much more likely to be fear, and fear evaporates with more information and more participation in the plan. Talk about the costs, where the time will come from, and what will change when you have a degree. Don’t add to that fear with anger over a dream denied for absolutely no obvious reason.
You cannot improve a relationship by being mean. You cannot disrespect your way to respect. You cannot hurt your way to love.