Today I’m sharing one reason I used to suck at relationships. I’m sure there are many, but there is one big one that I realized recently. I think this is on my mind due to the recent reunion weekend with my college girls, who have been privileged (ha) to witness the more questionable choices in men and terrible heartbreaks I’ve gone through. We reminisced (and I cringed!) a lot.
Gratefully I’m now experiencing it from a, “Holy cow, I can’t believe I put up with that much!” perspective, since my current relationship is pretty darn wonderful. I didn’t realize what I was missing or how good a healthy relationship could feel. I didn’t know how well I could be treated, or that someone would actually want to treat me that way.
But let’s back up.
Growing up I was the middle sibling of two boys, and the only girl in a neighborhood group of 15 boys. Two girls moved in during high school, but up in until then it was just. me. During grade school, the neighborhood boys told me that I couldn’t play sports with them – I had to make lemonade instead. (We were a very progressive neighborhood!) Both of my brothers used to have friends over all the time and I was constantly trying to fit in. I wanted them to like me. When I was old enough to care about boys, I wanted to be a cool, cute, fun sister.
I love these boys to death. To this day many of them are like brothers to me. But they are normal guys that made stupid jokes and enjoyed pressing my buttons a little too much. The way I fit in was to just go with the flow, let them make fun of me, and never be too prissy or high maintenance.
This attitude of making boys like me by not being too high maintenance carried over into my dating life. I think I took it to heart a little too much, though. Not being high maintenance turned into never requiring anything and never standing up for myself when I was treated badly. Whenever something bothered me, I just let it go.
There were relationships where guys were so incredibly selfish that I was almost just an afterthought. There were relationships where I was complimented a total of TWO times in over a year. Never taken on dates. Never made to feel special or loved. Criticized for my health and career choices. Compromises only came from me. And I just let it happen. I thought that was how it had to be; I actually thought I was happy.
Every relationship is different. I’m not here to judge what makes individual people happy. Following every magazine advice article called, “10 things that’ll make it last!” isn’t actually required for things to work. But feeling like you are equally committed is . For me, letting the other person know they are special to you is key. Open and honest communication about your needs and wants is a healthy thing.
Standing up for yourself is a sign of self-respect, not being needy.
Only took me 30 years to figure that out.
Obviously there is a line to be drawn between having self-respect and verging on overly ego-centric and drama queen. My suggestion is to take some time to really get to know yourself and what makes you thrive. Think about what your ideal relationship would look like, and the qualities you are looking for in a partner. And don’t settle for anything less than someone who enhances your life and makes you feel completely loved and respected.
I’m so glad I’m finally in that place. I’ll keep ya posted on how things go 😉