What To Do When You Have the Same Fight Over & Over

Here at the Stop The Drama! Campaign Doc Robyn often receives emails asking for advice.  The email below came in this week and we thought it and Doc Robyn’s response might be helpful to more than just the sender.  Here’s a shout-out to the person who was brave enough to ask the question.  We hope her strength is your gain.

Original email (In its entirety, names removed):

I just watched your video on how to make a point productively, and I have a couple of questions for you.

My boyfriend and I have been together almost a year. We love each other very much but have contradicting viewpoints on quite a few topics. For example, I have an almost irrational fear of being cheated on (every relationship I have been in, apart from one, has ended with the man leaving me for another woman), and like to be updated about his personal life, simply for my own benefit and reassurance. However, he is intent on keeping his private life private, to the point he jerks his phone out of my hands should I touch it. I can understand it, really, but my fear keeps me from being able to handle this productively, and it often ends in a screaming match.

I should point out that we do live together, and he’s almost always at home, so if he’s talking to other girls, it.would be at school or online. Anyway, I have tried to explain my fear to him, and he says that if I can’t trust him fully I am “going to lose him by my own doing”. This also often ends in a fight where I have to stomp out of the room to cool down so that it won’t escalate further. After we cool off, I have tried once or twice to talk again, this time more calmly, and he will have none of it.

I genuinely feel like this man is my soul mate for many reasons, and am intent on keeping it together. Do you have any suggestions on how to discuss this in a way that will not start a fight?

He also says, during these arguments, when I ask him to level with me, that he won’t change for anyone, not even me. It hurts my feelings when he says that, as I have changed the majority of my life to accommodate his needs. Any advice on this?

I’m sorry for the lengthy email, and I thank you very much for the reply.

Doc Robyn’s reply:

Thank you for your email.  It is always nice to hear that people are finding my videos helpful.

There is SO much in your email that I could respond to.  Certainly if you were a client we would to explore all of it.  There is no way we can do that via email.  Since you stated that your goal is to make this relationship work, I will respond with that in mind.

Here are a few questions you might want to consider:

  1. When in an intimate relationship with and living with someone, what does it mean to you to have a “private life”?
  2. What expectations do you have about what he should share and what is okay for him to keep to himself?
  3. What do you share and what do you keep to yourself? Are the expectations the same on both sides?
  4. How much of your concerns are really about his behavior (he jerks the phone out of your hands) and how much if it is leftover “stuff” from other relationships?

I would also like to share a tidbit from my life –  I have always lived by the motto “If she can get him she can have him because if he’ll leave he’s not worth keeping.”  And before you assume I feel that way because I have never been cheated on let me assure you that is not the case.  I have been and badly.  It is important for you to realize there is NOTHING you can do to create a healthy, monogamous relationship with someone who doesn’t want one with you.  It is your job to defend your relationship from the men who hit on you.  It is HIS job to defend the relationship from women who hit on him (this also assumes neither of you is actually chasing others). 

A healthy relationship does not involve bouts of screaming, yelling, fighting, crying, demanding and making up.  A good relationship is work.  But it isn’t hard and it isn’t ever miserable.  You deserve to be loved by someone who wants to love you, who cares about you enough to really be there emotionally for you and who is willing to earn your trust.  Is your BF that man for you?  If yes, then enjoy who he is and what you have and stop nagging him about who he’s not and what you don’t.  If he is not, find someone who is. He isn’t going to change.

As always, I wish you the most from your potential!

Doc Robyn

Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known conflict resolution expert, motivational speaker and executive wordsmith.  As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence in all aspects of life through active leadership, powerful teamwork, effective communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills.  She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time.  To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, please contact her here.

Making a difference, one speaking engagement at a time

You really did such an outstanding job last night! You seem to have hit your stride, and your comedic flair for inciting people to laugh at our flaws is ideal for a world that all too often takes itself too seriously. I think your mission is to improve the micro-worlds we live in–sports teams, at home, at work–one drama queen at a time!

Thank you so much for your support of this organization! (Professional Women’s Group – Dress for Success Morris County)

Danielle Adams
Business Solutions Officer
Affinity Federal Credit Union

Assume the Positive – No-Fail Secrets series 4 of 7

Today’s secret is ‘assume the positive’.  It is really easy for us to make up and assume negative things about people.  “She’s out to get me.” “He is stupid.” “My coach doesn’t like me.”  As I often explain when I give keynote talks, most often people aren’t out to get you even if it feels that way.  When we go to talk to someone with a negative assumption they are likely to become defensive pretty quickly.  If we can make up something positive instead, “My coach is trying to make me a better player”, or at least neutral, “I wonder what is going on”, we are more likely to have a conversation than a confrontation.

If you have a question you would like me to answer you can email me at [email protected], use the contact page, send me a tweet @DocRobyn or message me on Facebook.

I look forward to seeing you again in future videos and I wish you the most from your potential

Put Internal Dialogue into Words – No-Fail Secrets series 3 of 7

Your internal dialogue is the running commentary created in your head by the body language and inflection someone is using during a conversation.  Unfortunately, we very rarely share this information with the person we are talking to until we are upset about it.  You might think someone is being rude or mean when that isn’t their intention at all.  When you put your internal dialogue into words it allows the other person to understand where you are in the conversation and to correct course more quickly when a miscommunication is occurring.

Thank you for watching and I wish you the most from your potential.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, you can email me at [email protected]


Allow Space to Feel – No-Fail Secrets series 2 of 7

Do you agree? Is there more going on for you in a conversation than just the words being said?

Continuing the series on the Seven No-Fail Secrets to Stop The Drama! today’s tips is – give yourself space to feel.  People often balk at this tip because they believe feelings shouldn’t be part of the equation in a ‘logical’ discussion.  How often have you been told not to take things so personally, not to be so emotional or to check your feelings at the gate?  The truth is, feelings and emotions are what run our lives.  All of us have experienced saying something we regretted or walking away from a situation and then thinking of the perfect thing to say.  That is what happens when emotions run out high and we don’t take the time to figure them out in the moment.

Slow the conversation down, give yourself a chance to figure out what is going on for you emotionally and then attach a word to it.  Sometimes it is tough to come up with the right word.  In those cases, a feeling words list like the one at the back to “Stop The Drama!” can help.  I know it sounds corny. But if you can’t come up with the right word for how you feel you certainly aren’t going to be able to explain it to someone else.

Take the time to figure out how you feel and how to describe it and then you can decide if it needs to be part of the conversation or not.

You download a copy of a Seven No-Fail Secrets to Stop The Drama! at the bottom of the home page.

It you have a question you would like me to answer, send me an email [email protected] or use the contact us page.

“I wish you the most from your potential!”


Speak From the “I” – No-Fail Secrets series 1 of 7

The first of the Seven No-Fail Secrets to Stop The Drama! is speak from the “I”.  This means to start your sentences with “I think…” “I feel…” “My experience was…”  It is easy to start telling someone what they did wrong by starting thoughts with the word “you”.  Doing so only gives the listener two choices: Accept your criticism or defend themselves.  Most of the time people chose to defend themselves and the conversation escalates into a confrontation.  Speaking from the “I” allows you to take ownership of your side of the conversation while minimizing the likelihood of a defensive response from the other person

You can download a written copy of all seven secrets at the bottom of the home page.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer put a comment here, use the contact pag,  email me directly [email protected] or send me a tweet @DocRobyn.

I hope that is helpful and I wish you the most from your potential!


Five Things You Should Never Say in an Argument

“You make me….” (angry, mad, insane, etc)No one makes you anything.  You get to chose.  By telling someone they make you feel a certain way you are giving them your power.  If you are feeling something during a disagreement, own it.  “I am angry.”  No one can argue with how you feel.  They can argue with you if they are trying to “make” you feel that way.

“It’s your fault….” Placing blame never accomplishes anything.  Once there has been an accusation of blame the conversation will become a back and forth escalation about who is at fault rather than about the problem and how to solve it.  You are…. (stupid, lying, wrong)  A personal attack will immediately put the other person on the defensive and the discussion becomes win/lose.  Instead try to keep the lines of communication open by controlling your side of the conversation.  “My recollection of the facts is different.”  “That is not how I remember it.”  “From my perspective….”

“You should/shouldn’t have….” Things that happened in the past cannot be undone.  Telling someone what they should or shouldn’t have done is looking backwards.  Instead, look forward.  “In the future I would like to see xyz handled differently.”  Then talk about what you would like to see happen in the future.

“You aren’t listening to me!”  This is a statement that is almost guaranteed to be made in any heated disagreement and it always results in the same answer: “Yes I am!”  Instead try, “I’m not sure you understood me.  Let me try that again.” Or “I’m not feeling understood.”

I hope that is helpful and I wish you the most from your potential.  If you have a question you would like me to answer send me an email [email protected] or use the contact us page.


The Black Box of Hope


It is all too common for us to hope and assume that people understand us.  A man once said to me, “I am a great communicator.  I always say exactly what I mean.  It’s not my fault people don’t understand me.”  That isn’t true.  If someone doesn’t understand you it is your responsibility to rephrase what you are saying and try again.  We all use Black Box Communication sometimes.   We say something we think is clear and expect, by some miracle, the person listening to you will just understand.  Instead of assuming, verify that the person heard what you meant to say.  And when you are the listener, say things like, “What I think you said was…” and repeat back what you heard.  That will give someone the opportunity to correct a misunderstanding before it causes a problem.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, you can email me [email protected] or use the contact us page.  I hope this video was helpful. I wish you the most from your potential!