Frame Control in Relationships: How to Maintain Balance and Respect

For most men, frame control is a confusing topic; it’s too complicated. They give up on trying to understand frames, and on trying to control balance and respect in their relationships.

They give up on trying to understand the women they are pursuing and start to blame everyone and everything but themselves for their relationship woes.

That’s because most people don’t explain frame control in a simple and digestible manner. Most dating coaches make this simple idea of establishing boundaries and being specific about what you want extremely complicated. They’re almost elitist about it.

They make it sleazy.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to make frames simple for you to understand and easy to apply to your relationships.

Here are the 9 essential frame control behaviors you must adopt to have better relationships.

1. Telling the Other Person How THEY Really Feel

Whenever someone escalates a conflict with you, it’s best to not give them what they want.

If someone starts a fight with you – even if you know you can win the fight – you shouldn’t immediately start swinging back. This includes both physical and verbal jousting. Avoid it. It’s never good to get emotional and escalate conflicts.

Instead, aim to understand.

This shows weakness and a lack of control, and honestly, no one will ever respect you if you constantly try to fight with them.

Do not operate from an “I need to win this fight” point of view.

Instead – acknowledge that they feel strongly about something and maintain your Stoicism. Do not escalate. They feel strongly, not you. You’re good.

When someone starts to escalate a situation, literally say something like “I can’t tell you feel strongly about this, but…” and then state your position on the issue. This will encourage them to act more level-headedly around you.

This works in romantic relationships, family interactions, friendships, and more.

They feel strongly, not you.

2. Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

I was walking outside one Saturday night in a vibrant city, and I saw the most interesting and funny sight.

A young man – probably in his 20s or early 30s was walking with 2 beautiful women by his side. He was holding one on the hip and the other’s hand. Both were clearly interested in him. That was the part that caught my attention.

The “funny” part was that the man was quite short. Both of the women he was with were taller than him – and I was taller than the women. He was a short guy – something that most people would see as a weakness in the dating world – but he was doing better on the dating circuit than most men.

Most men go out and come home with zero women – this guy came home with 2, even though he’s a shorter guy.

Do you how many short guys I’ve seen whine about not being able to get women? A lot.

But the truth is that your height, your paycheck, or even how handsome you are are not the deciding factors in whether or not you’re going to succeed in social interactions or in picking up women.

In fact, being able to use those weaknesses and laugh about them is huge. It’s extremely attractive to people.

If you’re short, be a short king. If you’re broke, be on the come-up. If you’re old, be wise or mature.

Whatever your “weakness” is, find a way to turn it into a strength.

3. Address the Elephant in the Room

Whenever you have a situation where someone is crossing a line, being rude, or just making everyone in your group uncomfortable, there’s going to be a moment in time when they will have the floor.

They’ll be causing a circus, just like an elephant.

Nonetheless, everyone else in the group will see them as interesting, not crazy. They might see them as eccentric, visionary, or just exciting.

The difference between a visionary and a lunatic is often just the ability to read the room.

They will have novelty on their side, and this novelty will give them control and power.

But what happens when you address that? What happens if you address “the elephant in the room”? Point out their insanity so that others in the group can notice it too.

You won’t take the power back necessarily, but you will level the playing field.

Think about situations where celebrities are giving eccentric interviews on podcasts or talk shows.

One that comes to mind is the interview with Kanye West on Joe Rogan. He made Kanye seem delusional – more so than normal. His celebrity star power didn’t work because Rogan acknowledged the things he was saying that were ridiculous.

He leveled the playing field because he started asking questions.

4. Use Your Morals

In writing, I’ve used this one a lot.

When you address ideas (typically you’ll use this technique when you’re debating someone), you’re going to have periods when you start to fall behind. Periods when you’re losing. When your ideas start to seem less valid because the other person is digging at your morals.

At your values.

This is a critical moment in a debate.

Are you going to stick to your guns, are you going to concede, or are you going to get creative and find a frame that allows your ideas to work better than the person you’re debating with?

This is a foundational principle of playing the word game – but it’s deeper than that. It’s how you show yourself and others that the things you are saying are valid. If what you are saying to someone can’t be attached to good values – why are you saying it?

Here are some morals that are good concepts to build ideas around:

  • Love
  • Fairness (justice)
  • Equality
  • Strength
  • Trust
  • Safety
  • Happiness
  • Respect
  • Tolerance

There are more, but these are just some good things to think about.

5. Do Not Escalate Unless You are Being Attacked

Every once in a while, there are going to be situations in your relationships where you will fight.

You might get emotional, angry, or sad. It happens.

However, you need to be strong enough to not get emotional over silly things. Do not get angry or cry because you simply had a disagreement with your partner.

If you want to maintain balance and respect in a relationship, you need to craft the image that you are stable, level-headed, and stoic.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ever express emotions (there are definitely times to fight for yourself), but most of the time, you need to have it under control. Controlling yourself is the first step to controlling a relationship.

This is important for a few simple reasons:

  • Most people do not argue well when they are angry.
  • If you get angry all the time, no one will respect your anger.

That second point is especially important.

Emotions are only valid when they are expressed appropriately and at the right time. Don’t cry or get mad all the time. Don’t “cry wolf” over small things with your partner.

Be stoic until you really mean it.

6. Concede Short-Term to Win Long-Term

One common battle tactic in martial arts or war is to allow your opponent into your half or defensive area – giving them the idea that they are making offensive progress toward beating you.

When they start to get close – thinking they’ve progressed on offense – you now attack them hard and fast in your comfort zone. You force them into unfamiliar territory by conceding and then – when the time is right, let them know that they’ve made a mistake.

You can also do this in life when you’re arguing with someone or trying to maintain balance and control in a relationship.

Give a little bit. Concede on points that are really important to them. Allow them to win certain fights.

It’s okay.

You need to know to lose small fights to win big wars.

7. Express the World From Your Frame’s Point of View

A frame is essentially an unconscious worldview.

It’s a perspective on the world.

When you have a perspective on the world, you need to establish validity for it.

You need to prove that your way of seeing the world is objectively good. You need to convince smart people that you are smart. You need to challenge your own ideas by having them tested.

The way that you do this is by having your ideas tested under multiple situations. You create not just a frame or a point of view, but a strong worldview. You develop the ability to express everything that your frame cares about and believes.

When you’re in a relationship and feel like you don’t have mutual respect or balance, it’s because there’s a lack of respect for your perspective. The way that you solve this is by developing the ability to express yourself under a few different frameworks.

Your ability to control a relationship comes not just from your ideas, but also from the validity of those ideas under criticism. If your worldview collapses the second it’s challenged, you ought to think about whether what you’re saying has any validity at all.

I’ve found that as a man in today’s dating world, having a strong, valid, and (if you can) unconventional worldview is essential for success.

8. Develop the Ability to Create a Narrative

This is something that I struggled with for a long time when I was younger.

One of my good friends, however, did this unconsciously.

He was always constructing narratives. He was happy. He was good at making other people happy and excited through his narratives.

When he dated, the girls he was with were obsessed with him because they were invested in living out the narrative that he had created. He could tell them things they were going to do together and plans for their and his future, and he even had the ability to at times “predict the future” because his narrative was so strong.

Narrative construction is foundational for having good relationships and building “frame control”.

I wasn’t good at this, and I hated that he did this. I thought he was lying when he said things because not everything he said became true. It was a skill that took me a while to learn because I thought that by not delivering on my “promises” right away, I was letting myself and other people down.

That’s now how narrative construction works.

It’s not about what you say you’re going to do, it’s about what you say you’re going to do means.

The truth is that narrative construction is a positive-sum game. No one loses if it doesn’t work out, and if it does, everyone wins.

9. Develop the Humility to Shift Your Perspective

This might be a controversial take, but I don’t think that you need to control everything, all the time.

An obsessive need for control, safety, and dominance is the antithesis of masculinity. It’s based on scarcity – fear.

See, if you want to be a man who has control over his relationships, you need it to come naturally. You need to have the ability to work with another person. You shouldn’t need to constantly change yourself, leverage your way to getting what to want, and avoid arguments by understanding the fancy psychological techniques that will help you get through them.

A strong relationship isn’t built from on control, it’s built on trust, communication, and understanding.

You need to have the ability to admit that you’re still learning. That there are things about relationships that you are still learning. That you don’t really know anything besides what you know you want right now.

You need humility.

This is sort of the final point of frame control. You need to develop a worldview and a narrative that’s strong and valid enough that you don’t mind conceding and changing bits of it. You realize that learning is really how you make everything stronger in the long run.

Takeaways

Understanding frame control is an extremely important part of not just getting what you want, but also in building healthier relationships.

You need to have the ability to integrate your life with someone else’s, but also to maintain your own “selfhood”.

But how do you know if you’re doing it right?

It can be confusing, especially if you’ve never practiced frame control before. I get it. You don’t want to lose a good relationship because you’re inexperienced.

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