A reader sent me this Maya Angelou quote that Oprah regards as the best advice she has ever received: “When people tell you who they are — believe them.”
When someone behaves in a consistent manner showing and telling you who they are, you have to take them at face value and hear and see what they are telling you, not decide that you know better, or that even though he says he’s not ready, not interested in a relationship, or too good for you, that in time, it will change because you have your own agenda. Particularly if you stay in the light of the reality of a person, or go back, you have an even greater accountability for being in the relationship, and it makes it difficult for you to continue to complain – you knew what you were getting.
I’m not saying that you have to be all singing and dancing, but there comes a point where you have to take decisive action and change things that you can control (you), or get out. Or quiet down. When you adapt your own behaviour over a consistent period of time (not just temporarily to get a quick result), it’s very possible that 1) the relationship will no longer hold much appeal for you, or 2) the person recognises that if they want to be with you, the relationship has to change and so do they.
Action begets action. If no action results from your action, you know it’s best to tell them to ‘jog on’ and leave you be. Until then, you’re carrying dead weight.
When you stay and complain in relationships, it’s because you put the onus on the other party to change.
You may even say stuff like ‘If he’s not happy, he’ll go if he wants to end it’ or ‘I’m not ready to stop trying so if he wants to go, he needs to say so.”
Placing the onus on the other party to change, happens because you either genuinely believe that you are doing everything in your power to make the relationship work and it’s them that poses the obstacle, or you believe that even if you are contributing to the problem, it’s to a lesser extent than him, or that when he sorts himself out and adapts, you will follow.
Sometimes, hard as it may be to hear, you overestimate what you bring to the table and have a superiority complex.
Don’t believe me? For those of you who have spent time with a dubious man, or two, or three…, if you dig a little deep, you’ll know that you were expending energy on a man that was not in position to or did not have the desire to be in a relationship. When you’ve been with men that ‘need’ to change for you to get the relationship that you want, or you’ve tried to fix, heal, and help them, unfortunately there is an element of knowing that they’re unworthy but choosing them because you think they’ll be more ‘grateful’ to be with a woman like you, or at least more likely to be receptive to your attentions. It’s also easier to be with the broken man that you know and try to feel more valuable with him, than it is to be with the unfamiliar territory of a guy that doesn’t fit your pattern and may take you out of your comfort zone.
I’m not suggesting that some of these guys (or women) don’t have things that need to be addressed, but have you ever asked yourself what would happen if you focused on you?
This is not a negative thing by the way – what if you, as an individual, resolved your own inner turmoil so that you have the power and capacity to survive, with or without him? You can be happy, with or without him, and the sun doesn’t have to rise and set on him, his problems, the relationship, or what you forsee in your future for the both of you. Call it personal security.
I appreciate being on your own, for instance, is a different kind of happy, but hell, happy is happy. Some of my happiest times are from when I was single and started to love myself. I was more happy then than I’d ever been before – that was huge progress. I realised I didn’t need to seek approval or validation, I didn’t need to apologise all the time, that I could be myself, and that I could actually be happy if I wasn’t with a man or I wasn’t fannying around trying to jump to everyone’s beat being a people pleaser and glutton for punishment.
One of the biggest things I learned about seeing my qualities and contributions to relationships accurately is that by being with the same men, different package, I wasn’t really stretching myself.
I might have tweaked it up a little and played The (Polar) Opposites Game, but by knowing what I was likely to get and by repeatedly choosing limited relationships, I was only ever going to be in the position of making a limited contribution, and getting a limited return.
My contributions felt like a lot because I was choosing to expend a lot of energy on futile relationships with people who wanted a loaf in exchange for crumbs. I could have chosen differently, not least because every one of these guys made me miserable and depleted my self-esteem but it was easier to see myself as the party that was hit by a run of bad luck, that did the best she could with the relationships she had, and fought hard to save them/work at them, and if I’d only they’d changed things would have been hunky dory.
If you keep repeating the same patterns and choosing the same type of people that yield the same relationship and expecting different results, not only is this relationship insanity, but it is coasting and taking the ‘easier’ well travelled route.
By choosing to be in relationships that have a limited capacity for growth, your contribution is limited, not least because you’ve done all of this before.
Hard as it may be to hear, if you don’t want to be stuck in the same cycle, repeating the same relationship patterns, and attracting and being attracted to same guy, different package, you have to accept that whatever your contribution has been, you still need to change your relationship habits so that you can change the relationship you’re in or that you’re likely to get.
You want to find yourself with another Mr Unavailable trying to extract change and commitment out of him for months of years? Keep telling yourself that it’s not you, it’s them, or that even if you do have some issues to work on, he still needs to change because if he changed then you’d feel like you could change too.
You’ll know that you’re focusing on the wrong qualities or not seeing the bigger more realistic picture about your contribution to the relationship if you have a negative relationship pattern but keep persevering and expecting different results – yep, relationship insanity again.
Read my posts compatibility, type, and common interests, But we have so much in common (when really you don’t) and also I’m successful! Why am I still single? and ten reasons women choose men and why they shouldn’t.
I cannot emphasise enough how it’s wonderful to be smart and accomplished but they’re not a contribution to a relationship and they don’t hold the key to holding on to a man. If you were applying for a job or competing in the business world, those qualities would be far more valued.
I know and have been involved with a number of very intelligent assclowns who have their own accomplishments – that doesn’t make them any more desirable to me or suddenly ‘inflate’ their crumbs to a loaf. They were just more intelligent at taking me for a love fool…
Likewise it is good to be nice, kind, generous, and compassionate but let’s be real – aren’t these the least that we expect from humans who we want to have mutual love, care, trust, and respect with? There are some people out there who don’t deal in the bare basics, but we should treat basics like a hot commodity?
There’s also a flipside to being ‘nice’, ‘kind’, ‘generous’ and ‘compassionate’, other things women who go out with Mr Unavailables and assclowns regularly describe themselves as – you may be too nice and disrespect your boundaries and involve yourself with dangerous people who abuse your niceness. You may be kind but it may come tagged with expectations, or again, you may be too kind. You may be generous, but you may be an overgiver that actually gives to receive or is even co-dependent. You may be compassionate, but that’s often code word for being a sucker for a sob story and having no limits, which creates no boundaries, which creates a fertile ground for being taken advantage of or even abused.
How we see ourselves and our contribution is not how others may see it.
This is not about letting some guy (or woman) tell you that you’re not that great really; it’s about looking at the bigger picture and forcing yourself to be self aware enough to recognise that you may be overlooking things that are either one, far better qualities about yourself that you don’t value, or two, other characteristics, behaviours and beliefs that are impacting on your ability to forge a healthy relationship.
Back for the final part 3. Check out part one
Your thoughts? Can you see the flipside of things that you have believed yourself to be in your relationships? Do you see things differently?