As I was writing the first half of this article, it started out as just a nice piece pointing out that when I, personally, am in a relationship, I revel in its boundaries. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing what I can and cannot do to please my partner. But as I kept writing, I became convicted and the broken side of myself began making its way to the surface. I soon realized that I was writing this piece for me. And then, to make SURE I was heading in the right direction, a woman poured out her soul to me about how she has gotten so lost in her relationship with this man and she cannot figure out how it got so bad. He has convinced her to do things she was uncomfortable with and has grown to loathe herself. He gives her just enough to justify in her mind that he "might turn things around any day" but still manipulates her in every way.
And she's not the only one! So many others have fallen in love with partners that have continued to cross their boundaries and we have allowed it. It becomes a never ending cycle of seeing how much he/she can get away with and how many hits to our self-esteem we can handle. I have allowed my boundaries to be crossed and once that happens, it becomes difficult to put those fences back in place. I was raised to think better of myself and to not allow a man to treat me disrespectfully. But I fell in love with a man that didn't hold me in as high regard. I don't think most people go out to abuse a partner maliciously. It comes down to he/she pushes for a way THEY want to be treated and want to treat you, and if you don't stand your ground, they have made the decision for you. If you say it with your mouth but your actions still allow it to happen, your words become meaningless. If you condone or reward bad behavior, why should they ever stop??
Hang on, this is where I get upset...
My heart ached for that poor woman but then I got angry at her... then, I got angry at me!! For allowing things to happen!! I allowed it to happen!! I allowed this other person to make me believe that the way he was treating me was perfectly acceptable, as long as he said he loved me. Ugh!! You are your own person!! You decide what you are going to tolerate and what you are not. If your man/woman is crossing over your core boundaries. You owe it to yourself to walk out that door.
I know what you're thinking, "Elizabeth, you are always talking about trying to save the relationship. Make things work. Stick it out. Don't give up." Yes, I am. And I do believe all of those things. And if your partner is willing to come back over the boundary line and respect you, I say keep trying. But you have to be the one who holds those boundaries in place. Because if it was crossed once, they will try again. When you are in a relationship and you allow your boundaries to be torn down it destroys your self-respect.
When you have boundaries of your own AND THE COURAGE to hold up when they are being pushed against, you will feel that inner battle raging inside you but you will come out triumphant. Either by keeping your character in good standing or by showing this person to the door.
I know how you feel, I promise. "But if I do that, he'll leave me." Let me ask you this? How do you feel about your self right at this moment? How does it make you feel that he/she doesn't respect you enough to treat you well? Sure, you might be alone for a while. It might be a long while, but it is certainly not worth him/her taking chunks out of your self-esteem and dignity the longer he/she stays with you. He is obviously not the RIGHT one. God created relationships to be fulfilling, nurturing, and designed to bring you peace.
That being said, let's talk about how to turn things around. How to re-build that self-confidence. If I can do it, you can too.
The little picture at the top of the article is very true. YOU teach others how you want to be treated by what you allow. People will adjust around you.
If you are strong in your convictions, most won't even try to bump up against them. Or if they do, they quickly retreat. But if you don't hold yourself to that higher standard, why should any one else. If you keep allowing your boundaries to be crossed, regardless of what comes out of your mouth, you are telling them by your actions that you are okay with their behavior. We don't want to feel rejected, we don't want to feel alone but then, when we allow them to cross our boundaries we have no right to be upset when they don't treat us with respect! And that's exactly the cycle we put ourselves on. They treat us poorly and so we think if we love them more and give up more of ourselves that eventually they will stop treating us badly. Stepping back and looking at it... It Makes NO Sense!! There has to be consequences!! If you reward bad behavior with candy (ie:more love), why would anyone change?!
Why are you afraid of letting this person go?
- afraid of being alone?
- afraid he will become the man you've always wanted him to be but with someone else?
-afraid of him thinking or talking badly about you because you "gave up" on the relationship?
-afraid of just saying NO, I don't accept this anymore?
I have said "yes" to every one of these. And because of that, I wasted time. Valuable time. Time that I could have been happier. Time I could have spent improving myself. Time I could have poured my love on someone else. Don't do that to yourself. You are worth so much more that he/she is making you believe.
Don't waste your time trying to analyze his behavior. Don't try to make excuses for her behavior. Your gut is telling you that things are not right. You don't feel good about yourself and bottom line, that's never okay. See it for what it is. You already know, and if you were waiting on someone to tell you what to do, allow me: Let him/her go. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
You are more than this relationship. You are more than who you are around this person. Reset your boundaries and stand by them. Treat them as your signal light. Green for go, yellow for caution and red for heck no!!
Teach others how you want to be treated. Decide for yourself how you want to be treated and then become that person. Be true to yourself and others will follow your lead.