Know Who you are. Know what you want. Know what you deserve. And don’t settle for less
– Tony Gaskins
Do you have that niggling feeling that the person (or people) you invest your time in, is not giving you the same in return?
Perhaps they have withdrawn their initial interest, you only see them on their terms, you are waiting for them to contact, you have simply felt a shift, your long-term partner recoils at the slight mention of the future, and the anxiety is rife. You are in some kind of limbo.
Or you might read all of that and click with it, because that’s the kind of person you usually attract.
Either way, it’s an exhausting way to live and it is most definitely stealing a lot of your happiness.
Have you noticed that people treat being single like it’s some kind of life threatening disease? Being single seems to come with a truckload of insecurities. You compare yourself to all the ‘perfect’ couples, you believe you will be alone forever, you get bored, you think about your ex, think about all the crap you’ve been through, feel alone and drink yourself into oblivion. It’s no wonder you settle, you feel like you need someone in your life in order to survive.
That is not what single life has to be like. I kid you not, if you put the effort in, being single can be a special time in your life.
If ending this relationship is not an option because you want to see how it plays out, I can understand it, I just want to make sure you’re not sticking around and putting up with less than average because you’re too afraid to be alone or because you believe that’s what you deserve.
The most important thing you need to do right now is decide to start loving yourself, truly, madly, deeply.
For as long as you do not love yourself unconditionally, you will look for someone else to do it. And when they don’t, you will break.
People know the importance of self-love and still don’t take it seriously. You really have to though, otherwise you are destined to put up with ‘good enough’ relationships for the rest of your life.
I have done my fair share of dating. I have had both long and short-term relationships (for the sake of the post I’m referring to all dating experiences as a ‘relationship’).
This is not about having a go at anyone. Maybe you feel wronged, maybe they have been making half arsed efforts to get to know you, cancelling dates, popping round late at night, not compromising any of their time. How disrespectful of them? Sure, maybe. But I highly doubt anyone is sat there planning out how they can hurt you.
The most satisfying thing about taking responsibility for being treated this way, is it means you now have the power to change it.
Really take that in. You do not HAVE to put up with it. I know, it might mean losing them, and that sucks, and it hurts. But honestly, hear it from me, when you value yourself, you will feel a sense of freedom you have never felt before. You won’t need their love like you think you do.
I take full responsibility that I have always dated men that are emotionally unavailable to me in some form or another. They all ended with the same thing – ‘too busy’, ‘not ready’, ‘not after anything serious’. That may be true for them, they are on their journey too. But for me – it is not a coincidence I kept falling into the same trap. I was the one that would end up pursuing them, trying to meet their needs (and forgetting about my own), thinking I needed that person to want me…I was the one not valuing myself.
Why would that someone treat you like a 10/10, when you are accepting a 5/10?
The first thing you have to acknowledge is the pattern you find yourself in. It got to the point where I was meeting these guys like clockwork.
I needed to understand why I am attracting and accepting below par relationships.
I did what I do best and I got to work on understanding myself. The lightbulb moment came when I stumbled across the book ‘Mr unavailable and the Fallback Girl’. This became my bible. It is wonderfully written by author of baggagereclaim.co.uk, Natalie Lue. This book confirmed I was indeed playing a significant role in the relationships I was finding myself in. If you want to get a brief insight into why you might be acting as a trusty ‘fallback girl’, read Natalie Lue’s post ‘‘Why am I with an emotionally unavailable person?’ Identify who you’re competing with.’
Understanding the reasons behind my behaviours has triggered the change in me. As a child I promised myself “I will never allow myself to be treated badly” – only I never defined what ‘badly’ meant. By these standards, as I grew up, a guy not calling or sticking to his word, was perfectly good. Having a goal of ‘not to be treated badly’, is not going to invite a healthy, fulfilling relationship into my life. I once dated someone who would tell me “lots of people get treated much worse than you” – which was very true. But I strongly expect it only reinforced my belief that a substandard relationship is good enough.
These guys were ticking some boxes for this fallback girl. I was attracted to them, they made me laugh, they were interesting, but emotionally not much was happening, I expect for either of us.
I have never felt so strong and unwilling to accept anyone that only has crumbs (perfect term used by Natalie Lue) to offer me. Below, I have broken down how I have created this new mindset for myself and how you can too:
This is cliché because it’s real. You need to take some time to learn about self-love and commit to it. When you decide to love yourself, things shift. When you act out of self-love, things change. You are not going to let someone undervalue you when you love yourself. Trust me, it’s like magic.
This is something that a lot of people dislike, yet it is one of the best ways for you to start getting to know yourself, accepting yourself and valuing yourself. The more time you spend with yourself, the easier it becomes. It’s ok to feel bored and/or lonely from time to time. Most importantly, you are not relying on someone else. This is the time I started to understand why I am who I am and why I do the things I do.
This has changed my life. Finding and prioritising the things that bring me joy. Spend time focusing on the things that feed your soul. Try something new. Have fun. When you have other things to focus on, your attention will be on what makes you happy, rather than all your time going on these relationships.
Focus on your friends and family. Enjoy them. Love them and feel their love. I know it’s a different kind of love, but when you appreciate it, it is a new, amazing kind of love – you’re missing it because you’re too wrapped up in someone who doesn’t care.
Whether you are ready to end a relationship, just out of a relationship, or feeling battered and bruised from dating, it’s better to take time. Recover and feel the emotions, focus on you and remember who you are. A new relationship will take the pain away but not only are you filling a void, the new person does not get to see who you really are. I did this for too long, having time out has been invaluable.
There is no doubt this is where I messed up – I would kinda say what I want in a man… “Tall, funny, kind”. But I missed out the fact I wanted someone who does what they say they will, communicates, supportive, doesn’t rush, owns his feelings. All the real stuff that keeps anxiety at bay. Set your standards and stick to them. I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted lowering and ignoring standards.
Once you set your standards and know what you want, you have to follow this up with what you do. Saying no, not chasing (not in a bid for them to chase you I might add), getting on with your own life, following your dreams, taking care of yourself and creating a life you love.
When red flags appear, your intuition or ‘gut’ feeling will tell you. Your job is to Listen. There is some change in their behaviour and your gut is telling you everything you need to know (because we all know that person is not going to tell you). This is the point where you will make excuses for the behaviour. Not this time. This time, STOP and take action. Wait and observe the situation or if you want, raise it with them. It does not make you crazy to ask them. In fact, this one gets to be its own heading…
I have saved myself a lot of time by calling people out when their behaviour changes. You don’t have to be over the top or angry about it, but you have every right to know. Some relationships ended after I asked (who knows how long they would have strung me along for), while some would put the effort in again for a day or two if I was lucky.
You have every right to know where you stand. It does not make you crazy/clingy/desperate. This is your precious time. Life is too short to sit around waiting for someone to blue tick you 😉
You are better off going with the knowledge that they are not going to be around and available for you. If you wait and hope, every day they don’t call is going to be hell, and when they do, it’s short lived. For as long as you are waiting for someone who doesn’t even see you, you are closed off to the fulfilling relationship that is out there.
My friends will spit their tea out if I try and claim I don’t still slip up. Yes, you might trip at one, two, three (four, five, six) hurdles, especially when emotions are high or after a glass of vino or two (GUILTY). This does not mean you are back to square one. Get up, brush yourself off and go again. Beating yourself up is not going to help anyone. It’s really not the end of the world.
There you have it. This is what has worked for me.
I always get a bit frustrated when my self-worth is attacked based on these relationships. But that’s just my bruised pride. The truth is, your relationships do reflect what you think and feel about yourself.
‘The people you surround yourself with are excellent mirrors for who you are and how much, or how little, you love yourself.’ – Jen Sincero
There is a whole other world out there if you look closely, it’s not all about relationships and finding ‘the one’. And that’s coming from someone who unapologetically believes in fairy-tale endings.
It hasn’t happened over night, this has taken effort and hard work. I still mess up and I have no doubt I will trip up again. But it’s a powerful realisation that you don’t need someone else to complete you.
If someone is not emotionally available, or they are creating any drama, I’m simply not interested. I’ve done my time, I’m sure you have too. Let’s not regret a single second. Each person and experience has got us here and will help shape the healthy relationships we want going forward.
I know from experience, that unless you are in a place of being ready for change, you might read this, that alarm bell will go off, but you won’t really hear it. You will push it down and pretend you are fine. I expect you are fine, but fine is not good enough.
Let me say this – If you read this post and have any kind of emotional reaction or something resonates, please take five minutes to think about why. You don’t have to do anything, but just take time to reflect. You are not on your own, reach out if you need to.
Take your happiness out of someone else’s hands and own it. It’s yours.
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Carly Ann xx