So I hear that you are the kind of guy who shuffles and juggles to really make time for your girlfriend, despite that crazy schedule of yours. Hey, I heard my friend tell me that you made time after all that insane studying for your exam to learn how to cook your boyfriend’s favourite meal for his birthday.
By the sound of it, you both seem to be the kind of people who really invest themselves in their relationships and put that extra effort to make your partner feel wanted and cared for.
But then you tell me that your girlfriend keeps postponing dates and she wouldn’t budge to even think of accommodating you in her schedule. Also I heard that your boyfriend cancelled on you and your surprise dinner to hang out with his friends on his birthday.
And what did you do about it?
It’s okay I guess… It happens. She has been really busy lately. His friends really wanted him to join them. Maybe I should have tried harder. Maybe she/he is upset about something or they are feeling distant and if I only did that to make it all better…
How are you feeling about being stood up again and again?
I guess I should learn to have lower expectations. I am really upset but I don’t wanna tell him. I don’t want him to think that I am restricting him. I don’t wanna look all whiny and clingy in front of her. I don’t wanna tell her how I feel and rock the boat, as everything is going so well otherwise.
How many of us have been the second fiddle in a relationship? How many of you can relate to these settings? You come from a loving space in your heart and you want to do more for your partner but you take really less space in the relationship because you fear that they would get pissed and leave you.
I have been there and done that with a bunch of partners, to be honest. It’s great when you get the love back for your gestures and when the going is good but it feels like shit when your expectations start getting dashed on a regular basis.
So what makes us play the fool, stuff our heads in the sand and keep the chase alive while our partners run further and further away or take the space of 2 people in our relationships?
A deeply ingrained feeling of shame inflicted through childhood, which makes us feel like we are not good enough for somebody and to feel worthy of their love, we need to really go above and beyond who we are and hold on to those who love us, even when things have become unhealthy.
[pullquote] A deeply ingrained feeling of shame inflicted through childhood, which makes us feel like we are not good enough for somebody [/pullquote]
Mind you, self worth has many dimensions, as it expands into various aspects of your life. You may have a strong and exalted sense of self when you are at work but you become a doormat when intimacy knocks at your door, dolled up in the guise of an intimate relationship.
But we know the answer to this problem, don’t we? We all do and it is so deviously simple. It’s Self-Love!
But wait, if we know the answer then why isn’t it working or why is it still so hard to change when I know I do these things in a relationship?
The answer to that in my opinion is that we jump a few steps and want to go straight to the post healing phase, where we feel we are enough and loved and nurtured by our own self.
Then what are these steps? I have been working on my own shame based self worth issues and in my opinion these would be the broad steps to develop our sense of self in a relationship. Note that I am no expert here though and please don’t blame me if you do breakup.
It’s not about the other person anymore
Yes, the other person takes you for granted. But that’s because you let them. They held a mirror upto your inner feelings of “I am not good enough” and hence you were given the space in the relationship that you deserved, not what you wanted. It’s not about them anymore, it’s about you, so focus inwards and stop pointing fingers. What’s done is done.
Feel the shame and lack of love – physically
Shame is a very physical feeling along with grief, feeling unloved and angry. Feel those feelings in your body. Is it like a throbbing clot in your heart region, radiating unease from your solar plexus or flushed cheeks and hot behind the ears? Feel it and don’t try to repress it even if it’s very painful. The Ego will try its best to distract you. But don’t let ‘em.
Discover and reprogram shaming memories from your past
A psychotherapist maybe of great help here as you dig up shaming messages from your childhood that were reinforced throughout your past relationships. Go back to those memories, get into the felt sense of those messages and reprogram those negative beliefs into something positive and empowering. Get out of your head and into the body – that’s where true depth transformation occurs
No more Mr. Nice Guy – express your anger healthily
You are pissed and rightly so! Your boundaries have been played with in the name of love and it’s time to back those boundaries with some healthy anger. State how you feel to your partner. Maybe you want to practice on your delivery with your psychotherapist to have a good chance of getting your message across. But rise above that fear of making him/her uncomfortable. Rock that f**king boat. You deserve to be heard and your needs matter.
[pullquote] But rise above that fear of making him/her uncomfortable. Rock that f**king boat. You deserve to be heard and your needs matter[/pullquote]
Decide on what you want and who to get it from
For long you have kept your needs as secondary and have hoped that your partner would meet them after you have met all their needs and more. It doesn’t work that way. You have to ask. Decide on which needs you can fulfill on your own and the ones you want your partner to fulfill. State the needs clearly and without putting pressure, but do state how important they are to you. Negotiate and compromise if needed but learn to take your space in the relationship in this way.
You deserve love because you are good enough. If they can’t honour your basic needs after you have asked and tried to state them with love, then you are better off without them. You become a doormat only when you let someone walk all over you. Self-love will follow as you learn to stand up for your needs.
This is ‘cos you matter…
Free Phone Consultation for folks in Ontario, Canada
As a Registered Psychotherapist and coach, practicing in Toronto, Canada, I often see clients who suffer from the situations mentioned above. If you identified with this article, live in Ontario, Canada and need support, then contact me and we can have a free 30-min phone consultation.
Photo Credit – Kiran Foster – Flickr Creative Commons