One Major Way You’re Sabotaging Your Relationships – and How to Stop

Let me just start out by stating the obvious: relationships are hard. Anyone who says, “Oh, but they don’t have to be,” has either never been in a passionate one, or is full of sh*t.

It totally makes sense that they’re hard.

We take two mammals with sub-optimal communication skills (aka “language”) and some serious evolutionary biology along with a high likelihood of experiences of trauma with people they’ve trusted, and stick them together.

Then we expect them to go against everything their evolutionary brain has learned about being safe and avoiding discomfort or difficulty so they can experience some sense of…connection and love…and geez, it’s no wonder we can get into it with our significant other.

So let’s just remember: There’s nothing wrong with your relationship just because it’s hard.

However, what’s is wrong with most relationships is that we don’t let the other person be who they are.

We have a Manual for them. We have a long list – conscious or not – of how we think they should behave. How they should treat us when we come home from work. How they should react when we cry. What they should give us for our birthday. What kind of father or mother they should be. How they should smell (or not smell). How much sex we will have with them and what that sex is like. How much money they should spend and on what kinds of things.

“Oh Ana, but I am an exception. I don’t have a Manual for my partner!”

People who say this usually do so because thus far, their partner is following their Manual.

We usually don’t know we have one until it’s not being followed.

If you think you don’t have a Manual, just imagine your partner coming home and not doing everything you like them doing. If they normally cook you dinner, imagine them stopping. If they normally plan fun adventures with you, imagine them becoming a couch potato. If you normally have sex three or four times a week, imagine it dropping to once a season. If they usually end texts with the heart emoticon, imagine them changing it to goats and chickens. If they are always on time, imagine them being late. Always. By a lot.

You might be wondering why Manuals are even a problem. Don’t they just help us get our needs met?


That’s another misconception about Manuals. They aren’t filled with objective “rules” that are legit. They are filled with expectations we have to protect us from feeling bad.

Requests are what help us get our needs met.

Manuals create suffering when we believe they should be followed in order for us to be happy.

Requesting that your partner not be late helps you get your needs met.

Getting pissed when they are always late because in your Manual they are supposed to be on time makes you unhappy. Again, you are not unhappy because they are late. You are unhappy because you expected them to be on time.

(I know. Crazy. We’ll do a call on this soon, because I know some of y’all are like WTF???!!!)

The other reason Manuals create problems is because people evolve. Well, at least people change (Freedom Junkies evolve;). When people change, the Manual doesn’t allow them to act differently. This rocks the boat, even if there isn’t anything fundamentally “wrong” with the change itself. I see this all the time in my coaching clients. They evolve. They start doing things differently. They are no longer following their partners’ manual.

Boom! Shit explodes.

When we decide to love someone, we need to also decide to let them be them. It’s really the mature thing to do, and the way a true Freedom Junkie walks their talk. The most freeing thing we can offer another human being is to let them be them and love them for it.

This does not mean you don’t make requests. It just means you don’t let yourself get all victimized and bent out of shape when the other person doesn’t fulfill them.

Some people ask me, “But don’t I have a right to have certain needs?” Girlfriend, yes. But you don’t have a right to make other people meet them. Ultimately, meeting your needs is up to you.

Plus, when you make your happiness depend on another person’s actions, you are giving all you power away. To them! To something you have NO control over! We don’t ever have control of other people, no matter how much we’d like to believe differently.

Trust me. I’ve been through this debate. I wish my husband was home more instead of up in the sky with his paraglider waaaay out of cell phone range in another time zone all the time, and I feel more than entitled to bitch about it. I wish my mother didn’t criticize me so much when I called her on the phone. I wish so many people who did things that I thought were f*cked up would just stop because “most people” would agree that I was right.

Well, “most people” aren’t who you chose to be your person to walk this life with right now.

If you are choosing to be with someone, then let them be them. Make your requests. They will either honor them or not. They get to be them – another adult, just like you, being them.

Choose to stay or go. But if you choose to stay, let them be who they are. Learn to give yourself what you need so that you aren’t relying on someone else for your happiness.

If you aren’t getting anything out of the relationship and want to go, then by all means go! But know that unless you’ve cleaned up your thoughts about what a partner “should” be doing for you – e.g. if you think they are there to protect you from feeling bad – you will likely repeat these same patterns in the next relationship.

Our relationships aren’t there to protect us from doing hard things, feeling hard feelings, or facing our bullshit.

In my mind, relationships are there to push our edge. To challenge us to grow. To help us evolve and learn how to free our minds so we can love wholeheartedly. Ultimately, this extends to all our relationships – friends, parents, siblings, colleagues…all the silly humans.

Chuck the Manuals.

It will actually free you up to love so much more deeply and freely.

And don’t worry – you will still be OK. If you’re doubting it, then we’ve got some work to do together on building up your self confidence – your ziji – so that you believe you are 100% capable of taking care of your emotional needs. Then, the other people in your life? They become people who are there to make life even more juicy.

Instead of your emotional caretakers, they become the cream cheese icing on that gluten-free Freedom Junkie cake of yours.



Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.

How To Feel Better When Your Partner Won’t Do What You Ask

“A true life of freedom begins with not having your happiness depend on someone else’s behavior.” ~ Ana Neff

One of the most common questions I hear as I cruise around my life’s days is, “Why won’t my boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse just do what it takes to make me happy?”

There is some deep belief that if they loved you, they would just do it, Nike style. They’d just put their shoes away. Or not come home late. Or put happy faces after their texts. They’d stop flirting with someone who is not you. They’d ix-nay the nagging, the whining, the criticizing. They’d stop making excuses. They’d stop being a commitment-phobe. Whatever it is that pisses you off, if they loved you, they’d just cut it out already!

So yeah! Good question! Why WON’T they just do what it takes to make you happy?

Actually, it’s because I lied. It is, in fact, a shitty question.

Why is this question so shitty? It’s the wrong question.

You see, it is NOT your partner’s job to make you happy. Sorry.

It is not YOUR job to focus on what you want them to STOP doing.

It is YOUR job to focus on what they are doing well, and to make requests for things you’d like them to do, knowing very well it may never happen. It means you make the requests, and not make your happiness rely on whether they actually do it or not.

It is your job to accept them. Fully.

It means you stop caring about all that other shizzle. For realz. It means you focus on how to make yourself happy instead.

That’s true love.

Let’s practice.

Think of some way you need your partner to change their behavior before you can be content in the relationship. Usually this sounds something like, “If he would only ask my opinion before he went out and did his own thing, THEN I could feel secure and feel like my opinion mattered. Then I’d feel loved.” or “If she would just let me do whatever I wanted without having to check in all the time, then I’d feel more free and be able to relax into this relationship more easily.”

Now consider this: you can FEEL however you want RIGHT NOW. Without your partner changing their behavior.

I’m serious! I am sooooo not full of it here.

You do NOT need your partner’s complicity in order to feel ANYTHING – whether that feeling is love, freedom, joy, adventure, generosity…anything!

I know this is a tough one to absorb. It is, admittedly, easier on the surface to feel like the only reason you feel crappy is because your partner is being lame. It’s much easier to believe that you could easily feel good if others just followed your freaking awesome rules, right?

So…how’s that workin’ for ya?

The reality is, you can choose to be happy – Just. Like. That. {followed by an emphatic and dramatic snap of the fingers}

You can truly be happy even if your partner never promptly returns your calls. Or if your girlfriend never stops asking you how you feel. Or if your spouse continues to leave their shizzle all over the place.

It’s one thing to KNOW this is true. It is another to ACCEPT that this is possible.

Yet accepting that it is possible to be happy (or to achieve ANY emotional state you desire, for that matter) independent of another’s behavior is the key to loving someone fully and to accepting them as the amazing human being they are.

The funny thing is, when you love someone fully and truly accept them, they are also way more likely to WANT to make you happy. They are way more likely to love you back in the same, accepting way.

So what is a better, healthier question than the one we started with? Try this on:

“What can I do for MYSELF to help me feel that yummy way I want to feel?”

Blam! That’s it! What can YOU do for yourself?

Most of the time, when we are wanting our partner to do something in order for us to feel better, it is because we are lacking something in ourselves, lacking some level of self love, self care, or self acceptance. And while there is the option of digging deep into our endless source of soul energy to create it ourselves, it is often a whole lot easier to ask our partners to fix it for us.

But they can’t.

C’mon. You know that, right? You know this is true because you are badass, and you’re here – a fellow Freedom Junkie. We are here to free our minds, and free our lives. You know deep down that a key part of true freedom is learning how to make OURSELVES happy.

When you know how to make yourself happy, you aren’t going to hang out in an unhealthy relationship, because you won’t be afraid to be alone. YOU know how to make yourself happy, and aren’t going to hang out waiting for the lameass who keeps letting you down to do it for you (which, just for emphasis, they can’t anyway!).

If you’re single, when you learn to make yourself happy, you won’t easily pick a partner who sucks at loving you in a way you are meant to be loved. You will know how to make yourself so happy, that you won’t be out there scanning the world for the next guy who shows you the slightest bit of kindness, like handing you a straw at the juice bar. You’ll simply say, “Why, thank you!” and wait for the the guy who shows you some REAL fucking manhood, like not needing external flirtations with women to help HIM feel secure.

You stop pretending to love people fully when in reality, you are super annoyed at who they are and want them to change because you are with them so they can help make you feel better and they happened to hand you the straw at the juice bar so you snagged them while they were weak.

That’s not love. That’ entrapment.

When you know how to make yourself happy, adventurous, safe, generous, calm, grounded, sexy, juicy…you don’t NEED anyone. Rather, you see your partner (or future partner) as exactly that – a partner in this amazing life. A partner with whom you gaze out at the world holding hands, ready to make this one helluva ride together! A partner whom you accept, because you’re not with someone for potential.

You are with them because they rock AS IS, and you CHOSE them because they rock. Not because of the majestic Jedi you can craft them to be once you gain control of their mind.

Remember, this is not an overnight kind of thing. Learning how to make yourself happy is your life’s work. This means you will revisit this lesson over and over, hopefully excelling at it more and more each time as we spiral UPWARDS towards the heavens, and we will continually improve our ability to make ourselves happy.

A true life of freedom begins with not having your happiness depend on someone else’s behavior.

We are powerless over others! We are only in control of how we respond and react, and in what we create – our feelings, thoughts, and actions.

Now, I did not say starting this that once you learn to make yourself happy, you will live happily ever after with your partner.

Once you learn to make yourself happy, you will be able to decide if your current relationship is truly healthy for you, and not something you’re in simply because you are afraid to be alone. Once you get better at creating happiness, you will more skillfully call the right people to you with whom it is easy to be happy with, because you aren’t looking for someone to fix.

But if you are already with the right person (lucky YOU!), once you know how to make yourself feel yummy, you stop expecting your partner to do it for you.

What happens next is a true gift for them: you can focus on letting THEM be THEM. You can accept them, because after all, you are with them for the amazing people they are, and not the potential bandaid-of-a-partner they could be for your own wounds. You get to celebrate life with them. THAT ROCKS! And yes, the you can live happily every after. At least most of the time.

Focus on feeling good. Focus on helping your partner feel good in a way that does NOT compromise your ability to be happy. Focus on letting go of what they’re NOT doing for you. When you’re with the right person, this happens more easily in an amazing way.

Focus on what you want. Happiness. Commit to learning how to create that for yourself. Once you’ve done that, watch the love flow in, baby!

Share with me below about how you have managed the pull between wanting someone to change so you can feel better. We’ve all been there. Let’s call a spade a spade and get on with learning how to be happy!

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, sign up for a free 30 minute strategy session, and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting