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It’s What Comes After The “But…” That Counts

Posted Nov 23 2012 5:41pm

Many a person has had their expectations managed down by clever use of

I love you but you know my situation.

I hear you but that’s not something that I can do.

I do like myself but I do give myself a very hard time.

I want to change but I think it’s too late.

I really like you but I’m still coming to term with my separation.

I’m really enjoying our time together but I just want to keep it light.

I know a few people who say “It’s what comes after the but that counts” (woolly hat tip to BR reader Grace included) and if you remember this, it will keep you out of a lot of trouble and ensure that you’re present enough to be listening to what people say, not just listening to half a sentence and then drifting off into a fluffy fantasy.

It’s what comes after the but that counts because it’s where the truth or our energy lies.

I’ve seen it so many times in the stories people share where they emphasise how much their ex or partner loves them or really wants to do something because they kept saying it. Yes…but they also kept saying “But I can’t do this”, “But I’m not that”, “But you this and you that.” People with excessive use of “but” (cough) can end up being guilty of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, which basically brings you back to their status quo.

Many a person has had their expectations managed down by clever use of “but”.

“But…” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is ‘shady’ but what you do have to realise is that we communicate who we are through what we say and do, and also what we don’t say and do. No matter how much of a good game we talk, we just can’t help but show people who we are. It’s self-evident. We have “tells” and yes, we say stuff that completely contradicts something else we’ve said. Our jobs as individuals is to be naturally listening and watching as part of the process of being in reality.

Judging by the amount of emails and comments I’ve had on the subject of ever since I first wrote about it , paying too much attention to words that we want to hear (even if there is a lack of action to support them) and feeling very flattered by it, can mean that we tune out of ‘content’ that’s not on that ‘frequency’ or ‘on message’.

For instance, it’s easy to focus on “I love you” but what you should be focusing on is what came after the but, such as them reminding you of their situation and their limitations, which also puts a cap on the extent of their feelings and any actions you might be expecting to show up with that love.

If you tell me that you love me, I’m kinda expecting the loving action and a loving relationship to come with. It’s a package deal.

I love when people say “I agree with you but…” because that’s when you should be paying close attention. Again, it doesn’t have to be something shady but the person may have an objection that impacts your expectations or the “but” may highlight a real difference in values.

There’s also, “I want that too but…” We can be unwittingly letting ourselves off the hook if what we put after the but is our fears or firmly held beliefs that govern our capabilities.

This means that you need to make sure that you’re changing your intent and supporting the decisions you make and the actions that follow, by putting your fears etc., BEFORE the but and something positive that reaffirms your intentions, commitment, motivations etc., AFTER.

“I’m afraid that they might change after I’ve needed it, but I know based on X months/years and/or various experiences and this is what I have to make a decision on – who they are, not who I want them to be.”

Or just make sure that wherever there’s a “but”, that positive intent or positive self-validation comes after and ends your statement. And yes, sometimes they have to take their overused “but” and jog on.

Your thoughts?

About the Author:

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl , The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more . Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on and Twitter - .


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