When I hear about so many painful and quite frankly dubious experiences that BR readers are having, I realise that many of us have found ourselves trading down in life. You’ll know that you’re doing this if you’re selling yourself short, whether it’s actively or passively.
The ‘active down-trader’ is breaking their back and rolling themselves out to be in a relationship that detracts from them – they’re chasing a high and the remote possibility of the reward of eventually being the exception to a shady rule.
The ‘passive-downtrader’ is a passenger in the uncomfortable comfort zone, believing this is as good as it gets on the last chance saloon, or ruminating privately about why they’re not good enough to change the person or have a better relationship, while being too afraid to actually positively focus on themselves and do something that gets them out of their uncomfortable comfort zone.
A healthy relationship shines inside and out, whereas an unhealthy partnering may appear to glitter but be somewhat empty on the inside. It may leave you grubby or even outright filthy and even when it’s over, it may take some time to scrub off the grime so that your true self can shine through.
If anything, a relationship will enhance what already exists. In a healthy relationship, the mutuality will let your characteristics, qualities, and values exist, grow and mature. In an unhealthy relationship, it will actually enhance less attractive characteristics, qualities and values.
This is why relationships serve as lessons to teach us about ourselves. If we don’t heed the lessons in what can quite frankly be our own relationship insanity, the lesson will keep coming back like a bad habit or relationship that you just can’t flush. Cue Richard Pryor saying “What does that one chunk want?”
When someone keeps lying to you and they have further opportunities to keep lying to you, your relationship acts as a mirror to show you that you need to stop lying to yourself and being a receptive sponge for their lies.
When someone keeps treating you without love, care, trust, and respect, your relationship acts as a mirror telling you to wake the hell up, step in and treat you with love, care, trust, and respect because you’re staying right now because you love them more than you love you.
Relationships are also an opportunity to grow, positively, whatever the outcome of them. What you don’t want is to actually regress or become stunted by remaining in an uncomfortable comfort zone.
When you’re genuinely happy and comfortable, you seek to do more of the things that make you happy. You want to be the best you can be, not because it might win someone over, but because you’ve already learned that doing right by you helps you and your relationship when you’re in a healthy one.
What you don’t want to persist in, is being in a relationship or relationships that have you trading down. They shouldn’t cost you peace of mind, your friends, family, your home, health, job, money that’s either swindled out of you or that you squander, your self-respect, self-care, trust, or ability to love.
They shouldn’t cost you your integrity because without it, you don’t have what makes you you. A relationship shouldn’t and mustn’t cost you you.
You don’t need someone and a situation disconnecting you from your beauty inside and out, your intelligence, kindness, maturity, your emotional honesty, your general honesty, your values, your plans, goals, dreams, desires, and more.
You don’t need someone short-circuiting you and you certainly don’t need to be trying to do it for them.
They’re not worth it and they’re just not that special and you’ll notice, no-one is trying to short-circuit themselves for you. That’s not because you’re not worthy or valuable or good enough, or whatever depleting label you want to put on it that makes it about you in an inverted ego issue kind of way – it’s because any relationship that requires you to deduct you from the proceedings and to engage in behaviour and thinking that detracts from you, isn’t love. It’s a massacre. It’s self-obliteration but it sure as hell ain’t love.
Love isn’t about having the power to change someone or becoming an entirely different person and erasing who you are to accommodate what you think the whims of someone else are. Having your life based on moving goalposts and appointing someone as a higher authority in your life is a precarious and painful existence.
This isn’t as good as it gets and your last chance saloon hasn’t gone. Your time isn’t up until it’s up, which means you’ve got life left in you right now to make a difference to your own life. If you were happy selling yourself short in your traded down life, you wouldn’t be complaining and feeling the effects of treading water in drama and stress and/or silencing your own needs.
A relationship isn’t going to fall out of the sky tomorrow and land in your lap. Take a few months out, put 110% effort into focusing positively on you which includes nurturing you, being compassionate to you, learning to trust and like you, forgiving you, and breaking old ties and habits. When you’re genuinely happy and at peace within, you will be able to recognise healthier opportunities instead of using turmoil as a primary driver. Give yourself time and a chance – give yourself you.
Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.