Definition of Respect: Dating Advice Regarding Hot Potato Heads

When it comes to relationships, the best dating advice you will ever get is that if there is not mutual respect in the relationship, there is no relationship. Mutual respect occurs when both parties respect each other. Simple. But, not really, or we wouldn’t be here dissecting the topic of respect. It’s okay to be mad at your partner. It’s not okay to be mad at them ALL the time, or treat them like your personal hot potato.  We have a letter from a reader seeking relationship advice about Hot Potato Guy.

You know the one. We’ve all had this at some point in our dating lives. He loves you, he loves you not. He loves you, when it’s convenient for him.  Then, when you call him out on this nonsense, he pulls the, “Sorry, sorry, sorry I won’t ever do it again I promise!” bit. And then “Whoops I think he did it again.”

Britney Spears has a song about this that spells it out pretty clear, that’s just how common it is. He did it again, he played with your heart, made you believe you were more than just friends, because he’s not that innocent. And then the girl goes crawling back to him.  Our friend Scarlette has been dealing with just such a Hot Potato Head, and wants relationship advice on how to actually show him what respecting her means.

This one’s easy. But let’s have a look at what Scarlette says.

“I read your article about respect and it really resonated with me. I realise that I can only change my behaviour and part of the problem is continuing to accept his behaviour and let it go. But I seem to be frequently letting it go and feeling hurt as it happens repeatedly. So I need to stop accepting this behaviour from him and let him know that it’s not ok. But in real terms what does this mean? I have talked to him about it when after he behaves in a less than considerate way. He acknowledges it but then a week later seems to be doing it again. I stopped responding to his calls and texts then we had a chat after I got some space but again same old. So how should I be responding when he behaves like this or does it just take time? Because he can acknowledge it after the fact but all these conversations are getting boring and obviously it’s not helping. Advice please! Thank you, Scarlette x”

Congratulations, Scarlette on realizing that you are worth better, and more than what this guy is offering you. You can’t change what you can’t acknowledge. So you feel icky inside when he treats you this way. This happens a lot, meaning you also in turn feel icky a lot. You’ve talked to him about it, like a grownup, and communicated your feelings. Congratulations on that step too, because that’s a hard one. And when people miss that step, I usually hear from them. You are one step ahead and should be proud of yourself for signalling to him you are better than what he is giving you.

Frankly, you don’t need my relationship advice on that point. It’s clear that the No Contact you are engaging is working. Because it works. But what you really need from me is to change his mind and actually see the error of his ways. I am not a magician. I can not do this. Mr. Potato Head needs to put his big boy pants on and figure this one out for himself.

But you can take it to another level. He already knows that you know you deserve to be respected. You don’t need to re-learn the definition of respect. He does. Clearly, his history is repeating itself.  He is not truly and genuinely acknowledging the error of his ways if he keeps making the same mistake.

And that’s not on you to fix. It’s on him to fix.

People that are genuinely sorry for hurting someone they love don’t keep doing it. What goes through their mind when it is genuine and real love is, “Oh no! I can’t stand to see that look on their face again, so I will never do this again. Ever.” And then they work really hard to not do it again.

When it comes to playing with someone’s heart, people that love you will not do this. Because they love you.

You know that you need to stop accepting this behavior, and there’s nothing more that you do beyond that.   So you need to actually stop accepting this behavior. When he calls or texts again, and you respond, you send the message to him that you are still accepting this behavior.  This is where you go wrong.

Don’t beat yourself up for it, either. Like I say, we have all been there and done the exact same thing. Clearly you are very good at communicating your needs. You just need to be slightly better at it. The next time he tries to gloss over the error of his ways, and get you back, just respond, “Is this for real this time or am I getting back on the merry-go-round again?”

That will be all the dose of reality that he needs. Well, it should be.  Sometimes I wish more men wrote in seeking relationship advice when they get those kinds of texts.

This is still worth saving. He clearly sees something in you to keep you on the yo-yo string. He just needs a little bit more nudging on your part. Walk this out in your head. This is going to go one of two ways.

  • You will make him miss you, and he will smuck himself upside the head and actually do better next time. Orrrr….
  • He will say, “Pfftt whatever.” And keep scrolling to his phone to the next yo-yo that doesn’t mind being treated like a hot potato.

Either way, you will have your answer. And if it’s option 2, then at least you know. But any relationship advice person is going to tell you the same thing: You can make him miss you, but you can’t make him respect you. You can only remind him that you are worth respecting. What happens after that is up to him. And if it’s a mutual respect relationship, I see this going in a very positive way. And if it isn’t, then well, you know that too and can keep looking for that guy that will crave your texts and not toss you back and forth.