There’s something I want to tackle here that keeps coming up in my coaching calls.
There’s a certain type of relationship that can be especially confusing to navigate.
They aren’t always necessarily approaching abusive, though sometimes they can get there. I’m talking, though, about relationships that just make you feel like you’re being treated less.
Relationships where they treat you a lot worse than they expect you to treat them.
It’s basic stuff. Things like picking a restaurant, where are you gonna go?
You’re gonna go where they want to go.
Wanna go on vacation?
It’s where they want to vacation.
Are you having an argument?
The deciding factor will probably be their feelings.
Now a lot of times, people are totally aware of this.
The problem is, these…just gonna call them what they are, emotional manipulators, usually speak so passionately, and they really lean on your love for them.
In the moment, it will feel impossible to deny or get in the way of what they’re trying to do, but the next day, you’ll wonder how you’re doing what they want for the 70th time in a row.
Most of the time, this feeling is a result of the “love-bombing” stage of the relationship.
For a while there, at the beginning of the relationship, you’ll feel superhuman when you’re with them.
It’ll feel like they are the epitome of a perfect match for who you are.
But over time, it’ll feel less and less like that.
And over time, the theme that you’ll find yourself coming up with is “Expectation”.
More and more they’ll expect things of you that you’re not always gonna be comfortable with, and when you expect them to do the same, it’ll feel like you just asked them to pull out their front teeth for you.
So you’ll fight to get back to that stage at the beginning, the love-bombing, back when they treated you like you always thought you’d feel with them.
In that attempt to do so, you’ll find yourself losing more and more of who you are.
You give up authority, self-esteem, and self-respect.
But while it’s happening, a lot of the time you’ll tell yourself it isn’t happening.
You’ll think stuff like:
“It’s okay. I know I’m right, but I can put that down so we can get past it.”
“I’m willing to sacrifice for the people I love, and I know they just don’t see how one-sided this is. And I’d rather get past it.”
The issue with that, the longer you do that, the longer you put up a blatant disregard for your rights and feelings, just reinforces to that person that you were never worth the effort and love in the first place.
If they can keep treating you like they do, why would they stop?
They won’t see you as an equal anymore, which will majorly kill a lot of the attraction they had for you in the first place.
You just keep hoping that if you put up with all these little things, you can get back to that awesome place at the start of the relationship.
But by doing that, you’re just making it clearer that will never happen.
You’re not only convincing them you aren’t worthy of respect, but you’re also convincing yourself.
You’ll begin to think if they can’t see why you deserve respect, and love, and equal footing, then you don’t have any reasons to give them at all.
It creates this heartache, this pain, it’ll literally feeling like you’re rotting away.
And at the end of the relationship, it’s more like an addict trying to get over a drug than someone that’s just been broken up with.
A good way to summarize all this:
Mistreatment, and an unbalanced, unhealthy, humiliating, painful relationship, is not that other person crying out for help.
There’s usually some kind of story, a lot of the time it’s parents, but they’ll convey how all their life they’ve been mistreated, and walked over.
They’ll always get really vulnerable and openly show you how badly they’ve been hurt by people that claimed to love them.
That’s your cue to promise them, and yourself, that you’ll never do that, you’ll never abandon them, you’ll never devalue them like they’ve had happen to them.
And they’ll also throw in there how they need to know their rights are respected, which, again, you’ll happily agree to.
You don’t want their rights anyway, who would want to take that away?
Then, they’ll say something along the lines of:
“But if you can’t do that, I understand you just can’t be with me.”
They’ve already flashed the possibility of a break up.
This puts the image in your mind from the get go, that they’re more than willing to walk away, and you will have let them down.
So after that, suddenly whatever they ask for doesn’t seem like a big deal.
You’ll sacrifice whatever you can in the name of love, hoping this time will prove to them how much you love them, and how you’d do anything for them.
And with that understanding, they’ll start to respect who you are again.
Maybe they just don’t see how they’re supposed to love you. And if you stick it out for them, they’re finally gonna see how unbalanced they’re being.
As much as you may think they don’t see how much you put in, though, believe me when I say they absolutely do.
And they don’t care at all.
The sad truth is though, that isn’t even close to how that works.
When you do that, you willingly give away your self worth.
You spit on your own self-respect.
And at the end, when they finally discard you, you’ll wonder why you feel so empty.
You did the best you could, you gave it everything you had.
So why does it feel like you just got hit by a tank?
The truth is, you’ve given so much of who you are little by little each day, that you’ll find yourself with a massive chunk of who you are missing by the time it’s all over.
Stop entertaining the idea that if you let them belittle you, emotionally — or in extreme cases physically — wail on you, that one day they’re going to wake up and say:
“Wow, you know, I’ve treated this person like absolutely garbage, and I’ve been a terrible companion. And they’ve stuck through it all. I’m going to treat them better!”
That’s not happening; so stop letting that thought build up in your head like a tumor.
They have always known how poorly they’ve treated you, and they never cared enough to stop.
That’s fundamentally who they are, they’re more than fine with throwing you in the garbage can if it means you doing whatever they want for them.
By staying with them, by adhering to every little thing they say, you reinforce how little you matter.
So whether it’s somehow, somehow, a genuinely confused good person doing this to you, or an intentional narcissist who’s sunk their talons into you, the best thing to do is remember who you are.
By setting standards, and by treating yourself like an actual human again, you’ll remind yourself what you’re capable of, and what you shouldn’t ever have had to deal with.
Stop bending over backwards for them and get your self-respect back.
And when you do that, you’ll have one of two results.
The well-intentioned, unaware good person, will be jolted back into reality, and see what they’re about to lose.
And for a narcissist, you will have just hit them back astonishingly hard.
They’ve worked so long to get that exact thing away from you, they’ve strived to pull your pride and mental health like skin off of your bones.
By conveying you have dignity, and displaying your own value, you’ll show them you’re better than they are.
A manipulator can’t handle that, they can’t handle having their ego wounded like that.
They’ll come after you, and try to dismantle you all over again.
Don’t let them do that; don’t let them send you all the way back to square one.
Take control of who you are, and force yourself to remember it.
Tell other people you trust what you’ve been subjected to, and have them reinforce how not okay and twisted it is.
Because, to some degree, you’ve probably hidden that kind of stuff from them all this time.
You don’t want your friends and family to hate the person you’re spending life with.
Stop suffering in silence, it isn’t doing any good to anyone.
Protecting a manipulator, and tolerating them, will never prove to them that you love them.
To think they will is like thinking a spoiled child is just gonna wake up one day and decide to be a better child; that doesn’t happen, quit thinking it will happen.
So again, remind yourself who you are, instead of begging someone else to see it.
Treat yourself like you’d wish they saw you.