Super Busy. Really? Who are you? World leader? A super hero? The most important person in the world, ever? In today’s post, I’d like to explore whether being super busy is really code for being too busy for a relationship.
In my practice, I am hearing more and more about people waiting around for someone to become un-busy. I’m not disputing that being busy is a very real experience, but as excuses go for why you’re letting someone off the hook for being emotionally and physically unavailable in your relationship, not making an effort and keeping you on the fringes of their lives while you wait for your ‘time slot’, it’s actually not such a good one.
Not only are they using a lame excuse to manage down your expectations or to even passive aggressively communicate that they want out or that things are casual, but when you use this as an excuse to yourself, you’re talking yourself into managing down your own expectations.
Let’s break this down. Does being “super busy” mean;
– They’re so busy that they couldn’t find two minutes in their day to pick up the phone?
– They’re so important that you’re not important?
– They’re ‘insanely busy’? Doing what? Saving the world? Running a country? Helping the hungry and the poor? They haven’t had five minutes? Wow. I bet they’ve found 5 minutes to sleep, use the bathroom and/or social media.
Being super-duper-busy all the time whether it’s them offering it up as an excuse or you’re making the excuse for them, is a rather big hint – it’s telling you that they don’t have time for the relationship and certainly don’t have time to meet your hopes and expectations, so you should be making an exit and moving on to someone and something where you’re more valued and not in their ‘queue’.
Many moons ago, ‘dated’ (and I use this term loosely) a guy who was always telling me how busy he was. I used to call him Busy Bee. He would go on and on and on, and I’d say “Wow… you must be really important at work…” or “How do you cope with such a hectic schedule?” After a while he realised that I was mocking him and would at least muster up some embarrassment when I’d refer to him as Busy Bee. I even asked him if he was working for MI5 or running a small country somewhere.
I don’t buy busy. I’m not saying that people don’t have busy lives, but using it as an excuse for why you don’t make an effort is bullshit. Behind every excuse is the real reason and the real reason is that aside from considering themselves to be ‘super-important’, they also don’t want to make the effort. Whatever they’re busy at is a crutch and it’s one that they cling on to that prevents them from getting ‘too’ intimate and ‘too’ committed ensuring that they don’t have ‘too many’ responsibilities.
Before you go thinking it is about you, it is not. I wouldn’t go thinking that your inadequacies are what are causing them to fill up their schedule. It’s not about them making time for the ‘right’ person; it’s about them not only being available but also having the decency and a reined in enough ego to not actually think crumbs are acceptable.
There are many people who work very hard because they’re busy building up a company, studying or on the fast track in their career, but there are also people who act like they’re ‘critical’ and work very long hours because it helps them to avoid their feelings, themselves, and even relationships. Shock horror, but there have been people who have founded companies, built them up, studied, been on the fast track of their career and many other things, who have also found and made the time for a relationship.
If you are reading this and this is sounding familiar, it’s a good time to ask yourself just what you think they’re busy doing and how if you’re already making excuses for their busyness and writing yourself out of the relationship that you deserve, do you expect to actually have a full on relationship with this person that will actually go anywhere?
They’re just not that busy and they’re just not that special that you should be “Oh little old me must wait around patiently because they’re so important and busy”.It can be very easy to buy into the whole ‘super-busy’ excuse if one or both parents didn’t have time for you, or you got lost in the shuffle of being one of several children.
You are deserving of being a priority and don’t let anyone tell you that being low on their to do list is what being a priority in their life looks like. Instead of waiting around for them to be less busy, it’s best that you make time for you and tell them that if they don’t have the time for even the basics right now, they surely don’t have time for a relationship. I know of lots of busy couples being busy together. You know what being a priority looks like. We all have the same amount of hours in our day.
Ok, so I borrowed this title from an episode of ‘How I Met your Mother‘. It sums up perfectly today’s topic; people pushing for late night render-vous. Asking to meet up late at night is seldom for a cup of cocoa and a chat…
Imagine that someone with whom you’ve recently become ‘acquainted’ cancels the date, and then suggests that they can come over to your place later (read circa 11pm) because they just want to see you.
A) Find it uncomfortable and don’t entertain it because (1), if they cancelled a date but now can actually see you, you begin to wonder what is really going on here, (2), it’s late at night, and (3) even if they won’t admit it, it’s highly likely that there’s sexual intentions, which you are not ready for.
B) Find it uncomfortable but offer to meet during the day or earlier on in the evening and then if they decline or keep going for the late night stuff, flush any future interaction at that point.
C) Think, ‘Wow, they must really like me if they want to see me at night and hang out with me at my place. They obviously can’t wait until daylight.’
D) Think it’s strange but then doubt yourself. ‘Maybe I’m a prude. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions and all they want to do is come over and chat and watch TV. I hardly know them and yes it is odd that they want to come to my place, but I don’t want to appear rude and distrusting so I’d better say yes.’
Note: For those of you who know me or have been following my blog, my answer is A or B
There will always be people who will swear on the Bible that the reason why they’re asking to come over to your place is just to ‘chill’ or that the reason why they only talk to you late at night is because they’re ‘super busy’. Hmmm – I smell bullshit. Reasoning like this is actually even more of a reason as to why you should decline. If they are so busy, where is this going to go? Also, whilst some people will tell you straight up what they’re truly intending, most won’t because you’re likely to say no and/or they’re trying to preserve a certain image of themselves. Avoid nasty surprises.
Odds are that a late night meeting isn’t for a cup of cocoa and a chat. You’ll either know this through experience or just from awareness of your own boundaries. It’s one thing to be naive out of genuine lack of experience but it’s another thing to try to convince yourself that it’s not what it is. If it looks like shady and walks like shady – it is shady.
Are they really trying to tell you that they have absolutely no daylight or earlier evening time in the next week or two? What are they? A vampire? Of course, you could do the whole ‘I’m Going To Be The Exception’ and ‘This Could Be One Of Those Few Times When It Really Is A Chat’ self reasoning, but really, stop and ask yourself, where is the late night emergency??
If they also ask to meet at your place, that is just very odd. Your home is your home and not a drop in centre which is open all hours for any waif and stray to swing by if they feel like it. The sad thing is that if you are a default people pleaser, you may feel bad about saying no (even when you really want or need to) and you will end up agreeing against your better judgement.
What happened to Stranger Danger and being a bit street smart? I’m not suggesting that we see a predator in everyone, but you need to be stranger aware and you certainly shouldn’t allow your libido, people-pleasing, any dodgy assumptions and other people’s opinions and projections to run your show.
If your gut tells you no, then it is not something that you need to explain or justify. Some people lack the experience to recognise the sexual undertone to certain types of situations and so may not understand your own judgement on the situation. Others may project and assume that you should never leave any dating stone unturned, and can’t fathom why you don’t say yes to every offer. Some people are totally OK with the late night thang and if you are too, that is okay. Just beware what it is that you are signing up for.
If the late night caller is used to people jumping to their beat and people being flattered to get any invitation at any time, that doesn’t put you under obligation to accept their invitation, nor does it make you prudish if you say no. They may protest that, ’I can’t believe that you think that it [sex] is what I’m looking for!’ and then you may feel guilty for thinking such a terrible thing and second-guess yourself and then either kick you after you’ve slept together or convince yourself that you’ve scared them away and kick you some more.
If somebody really wants to get to know you, they’ll meet you at a mutually agreeable time and place. Sure, you may have to work around each other’s schedules a bit but they will want you to be comfortable. They don’t need to invite themselves over to your place, especially repeatedly, in the dead of night because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that this has some safety concerns and may be a little bit (or a lot) premature, even if it feels as if you ‘know’ one another after only a short time.
Decide what your line is on situations like these in advance.
Are you OK with chatting and sexting with people late at night when you could be asleep or laying real bricks in real life relationships instead of building sandcastles in the sky? Are you OK with having virtual strangers over to your place or meeting them at night? Are you comfortable with ambiguous situations? If not, decline with no explanation. It’s pretty obvious what your reasons are. These situations can unfold with both sexes but admittedly it’s weighted towards men. If a guy doesn’t ‘get’ why a woman who hardly knows him doesn’t want to invite him over to her place and certainly not late at night, that’s a red flag. Time to abort mission and don’t stop on the way out to educate him.
Persona refers to the image that someone displays when they are mindful of what they want others to think of them and/or mindful of the consequences of showing their true selves. Different modalities of psychotherapy may refer to the persona in different language, such as the False Self, the Ego etc. I will use Persona throughout this post to refer to that ‘good side’ that some people seem to willingly show others…just not you.
When it appears that someone presents an entirely different person to the outside world than that which they are with you, a few things may begin to happen. You may blame yourself for their behaviour; or you may question whether you’re imagining your experience with this person in a private forum; or you seek validation from they by trying to get like for like treatment. You may wonder, “What is so wrong with me that I get their shadiness and dark side but others don’t?” It can feel as if everyone else is far more appreciated and they’re not even having to put up with what you do, leaving you fuming about the fairness of it all. Why do these people get their good side?
There are a couple of things at play here, which are important to remember as they put what is going on into context. First up, your self-identify has become based on their treatment of you. Their behaviour equals your worth and you can become convinced that you’re “not good enough”. Underlying beliefs about your perception of what you deserve are validated and reinforced by continuing to engage with this person and not seeing their behaviour for what it is. Theirs.
Image matters to them. They are curtailed by the restrictions and boundaries of how they are perceived in a public forum because they do not want to risk experiencing consequences or exposure. They may feel and know that they are not experiencing boundaries and natural consequences with you and so they feel safe in continuing in or escalating their behaviour. The natural consequences are not there. It’s not that they cannot control what they do because they do control themselves outside of your relationship, but with that, they feel that they have to. They are very aware of their image and consequences.
Do not assume that they are a “saint” with others. Others will also experience this person’s ‘game face’ and passive aggression. My guess is that you are too busy blaming you to see what’s going on or even to recognise how inappropriate their behaviour is regardless. People who have a well honed public persona and get dark and chopping behind the scenes, think that they’re good at concealing anger, resentment, frustration and playing the game. However, hold in mind that whoever comes into contact with them will experience various degrees of their boundary busting behaviour. Strangers or acquaintances may only ‘know’ them on a superficial basis. They’ll have experienced charm or bought into hype or image. There are also those people who:
- Have had issues with them (or are aware of their actions with others) but they either stay out of it, rationalise it, or shelter him/her from the consequences.
- Have similar boundary issues so are not going to call out this person because to do so would mean that they’d have to acknowledge their own issues.
- Have experienced the same treatment as you, but you are unaware of because they’re edited out of this person’s history and so you don’t know of their existence, or they’ve been silenced.
- Have experienced the same or similar treatment to you but are now in the ‘harem’, hanging around and hoping to collect some validation.
The bottom line is that they don’t like to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing for fear of someone connecting the dots and working out that they masquerade as someone that they are not. In much the same way that you take responsibility for their feelings and behaviour, they use the same reasoning to avoid responsibility, insisting that they don’t behave this way with others – “I only act this way with you” or “You bring this out in me”– and so insinuating that you’re the problem. They fail to acknowledge that they behave this way with you because they know that they will not experience consequences and that they specifically choose people by recognising certain indicators that they feel gives the green light to be and do their worst. For example, if when they say or do something inappropriate, you withdraw or go into people pleasing mode, they know that they have an opening and after that, they just chop away.
They don’t acknowledge that the reason why they bust your boundaries isn’t because you provoked it but because this is what they do and they’ve set this situation up. If you’re in a romantic relationship with them, they have a habit of choosing partners where they can behave similarly. If they’re a bully at work or in friendships, they exploit what they feel is a loophole.
They don’t acknowledge that actually, while you have your own end of things to address about boundaries, they may have systematically said and done things that have messed with your head and affected your ability to create the consequences. In addressing your boundaries, you won’t change who they are; but it would rid you of them.
They also don’t acknowledge that they redirect past and present anger, frustration, resentment, fear etc at you that they haven’t been able to directly express to it’s rightful owner. They know, on some level, that they can’t express their true selves with others, so they create a drama with you in order to release the feelings, knowing that there are little or no consequences. If you are buying into this whole, “I provoke him/her into it”, you are offering a Get Out of Jail Free card and colluding with their distortion and avoidance of responsibility. You’re also hankering for the image rather than accepting the truth.
A Persona is what a person puts out when they’re mindful of being watched or mindful of the consequences of showing their true self. Their true self is what they get up to behind the scenes and when they don’t think that they’re going to be caught or when there is no threat that that they’ll experience big consequences of someone seeing what they are and creating consequences for their behaviour.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing with these ‘Others’. What matters is what they’re doing with you. Knowing that others receive equal or worse treatment will not make you feel better. If you want to change how you feel, your focus should be on building boundaries so that you can build enough confidence to protect and distance yourself.
You are not creating this person; it’s who they are. Step out of that Game.
I’ve been doing a fair bit of work recently in my practice on boundaries and strengthening Adult, so wanted to share some thoughts with the People Pleasers (read Rescuers) amongst us of the importance of going on a People Pleasing Diet. Let’s talk about why might want to consider giving up trying to please the Unpleasables.
It’s painful when the realisation hits you, that when it comes certain people in your life, nothing is ever good enough. You could agree with everything that they say and do everything they’ve requested with exacting precision and they’ll still do the equivalent to you of saying , “You missed a spot…”. Nothing is ever enough with The Unpleasables and if you try to do ‘everything’ you will only lose sight of you and your boundaries. Quite simply, no one is that special!
Usually, you can trace the first Unpleasable in your life as exacting and critical parent or caregiver. If your perspective on that behaviour and how you respond to it hasn’t changed now you are an Adult, you’re likely to have felt similarly with a similar boss, ‘friend’ or romantic partner.
It will feel like the most natural thing in the world to be a people pleaser if it’s all you know and if you equate happiness and worthiness with pleasing somebody all of the time. If you associate other people’s displeasure with you being inadequate and ‘provoking’ their behaviour, it will be easy to put what happened in childhood together with what is happening now and form the conclusion that it ‘must’ be you.
It’s also easy to trick yourself into believing that ‘other people’ are able to satisfy an Unpleasable. Not only is this a fantasy (which personalises their behaviour to you), it would also be of benefit to remember that being perennially dissatisfied is their decision.
So what does trying to please an Unpleasable look like?
- It’s being a child and trying really hard with something and your parent criticising your efforts. “You got 93%? You didn’t get full marks. What did you do wrong?” “You got 100% – it mustn’t have been a very hard test then!” “You got a C, you should have got a B….why didn’t you get an A?”
- It’s giving a gift and their “Is that it?” attitude or being openly mocking or critiqued about it. Then, if you buy increasingly expensive gifts and they say that you’re a “show off” and “wasting money” or you buy what they ask for and they go, “I wish that I didn’t have to ask what I want…”
- It’s working for someone who takes the credit when you do well, blames you when they do badly, doesn’t encourage you, doesn’t give any feedback, expects you to mind read them and then says “You’d do better if you communicated better with me” so when you try to talk to them or ask questions, you’re told off for not being more “autonomous”.
- It’s that partner who you’ve become afraid of putting a foot wrong with, who then complains about why you not more relaxed after they’ve chopped away at your sense of self. Nothing is ever right.
The Unpleasables have an overblown sense of entitlement that ‘everyone’ is responsible for their satisfaction. Yes, they may be trying to make up for a deficit from their past and be deeply unhappy people unable to draw on their own resources. However, it is not your job to compensate for their past or their problems.
Trying to please The Unpleasables is essentially like throwing your energy into the abyss. Whilst you twist yourself in knots trying to gain validation, attention and love, you completely deplete you of everything. There’s no tipping point. In the end, you may wind up dependent on them for your worth, happiness, security and identity.They’re dependent on you too though because they draw their energy from you, which is why you feel drained.
The Unpleasables need to look inward and examine their own behaviour and the way in which they conduct their lives instead of blaming everyone else and trying to enforce their ‘entitlements’. The harder you try, the more you reinforce this idea that their actions are acceptable because their crazy-making demands are being rewarded.
It’s a sign of immense insecurity when a person is an Unpleasable. Instead of putting them on a pedestal, recognise their criticisms and inability to ever be pleased as a weakness not a strength. People pleasing will cause you to do things for the wrong reasons. You have to make a very conscious choice to stop and then keep making the same decision every day. This diminishes their power over you while increasing your own power over you.
The person who cannot be pleased is the same person who has little gratitude for what they do have because they always focus on what they don’t have and what they don’t have is distorted anyway because they never acknowledged and appreciated what they do have and the efforts of others in the first place.
Stop trying to be perfect in the hope that they’ll be pleased – learn how to please yourself.This is your life and it’s time to get on with the business of learning how to please you and meet your own needs. Your role in life isn’t a scapegoat or to constantly be on hand to make someone else feel better about their own eternal turmoil. Whether you devote your life to an Unpleasable or choose to step back and into your own life, they’re still be an Unpleasable regardless. Only one of these options empowers you to find your own happiness independently of their chaos. Choose wisely, choose you.
Someone recently shared with me how shocked they were that a former girlfriend had forged a relationship with them by pretending to be everything that they had needed from a partner at that time. Of course, this worked for a while, until the mask slipped and the real person emerged; critical, negative and enraged that after everything she had done for him, she hadn’t gotten what she wanted. What the what?!? He struggled to understand why someone would have a hidden agenda in order to get that which they want. Why do people do stuff for shady reasons? Let’s explore…
It is the hidden agenda and the I’ve Been a Doormat For You So You Should _________ traps that I am addressing here. It is this type of ‘help’ along with ‘giving’ that sets many people on the path of being a modern day Florence Nightingale, where they make their whole purpose in life to become the solution for someone else. Let me be clear, genuinely providing assistance to others and helping others is something that we could all aspire to. However, you already know that I’m not talking about that kind of help.
Sometimes we have to learn not to get involved in Other People’s Business by making ourselves the solution and the salvation to their personal problems. When we see ourselves as the external solution to someone else’s internal issues, it’s because we’ve busied ourselves with their business (in the context of our own agenda). Then, we’ve gone and prescribed ourselves as the ‘medication’. Even if you make something that is none of your business into your business, it still doesn’t make it your business.
If we dig a bit deeper, the truth is that we make ourselves the solution to the problems of others because we think that other people are the solution to our problems.
If you like to feel needed and don’t know how to assert your own needs, you could get caught up in focusing on becoming indispensable to others. This is deriving ‘worth’ from the approval of others and gaining validation from having this ‘purpose’ and/or seeing what appears to be fruits of our labour. All of this is a distraction. I’m not saying not to help others but help really isn’t help if you expect something back. That is called having an agenda.
If you feel angry and wronged after you ‘help’ and ‘give’ to people, it’s time to examine your motives and what you truly expected. Would you give the help if you didn’t think that you would get the perceived / expected reward for it? If the answer is no, then don’t do it. Don’t. If you wouldn’t jump in if you didn’t think that you were going to get a relationship or the opportunity to ‘collect’ at a later date, then restrain your ‘helping’ hand.
And to those of you who are still confused as to why someone bends over backwards in the beginning to appear submissive but then doesn’t transpire to be all that they pretended to, I say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone who morphs into everything that you want and holds themselves out as the cure for all of your pain does not do so just because. They do it because in becoming the all singing and all dancing “perfect partner’ for you, they hope that you will accept/validate/take care of them. Usually, they continue the charade without complaint for a while. However, they will end up erupting over a sense of feeling taken for granted after playing doormat and over-giving. Why? Honestly, because they expected payment for being all that you told them that you wanted, whether consciously or otherwise.
Even if you change yourself in order to be someone else’s solution and to maintain a relationship, this does not actually control how they may go on to behave. It isn’t necessarily going to ‘make’ people do as you want or expect and it doesn’t mean that they ‘should’ meet your needs. If your form of giving involves assisting people in avoiding their own personal responsibilities, that’s not help. If your idea of ‘making things better’ for a person is pretty much wiping out all reason and responsibility by being a willing victim, that’s not help. If you’re ‘improving situations’ by enabling someone else’s issues, yes you guessed it, that’s not help either.
When you try to fix/heal people and build your whole relationship on your secret agenda, it is neither healthy or mutual. Arguably, you can only know true help once you can help yourself, because at least then you know that you’re not looking for secret salvation from inappropriate sources.
Get acquainted with your own line so that you know the line of others.
I’ve come to realise that there is a common thread in what it is that keeps some people stuck with their thinking and behaviour. That thread is a carefully woven one of obligation and entitlement, but dressed up as becoming that which they think the other person wants and pleasing them as a way of getting their own needs met. They either feel duty bound to help the ‘helpless’ and play Florence Nightingale, or they are stuck in a thought process that rests on a sense of, ‘after all that I’ve done, why haven’t I got what I want?’
If you end up being burdened with duties and a perennial sense of obligation to be and do the things that will ‘please’ others, it will often be at your own expense. There is a core issue here too – entitlement; what you may believe that you have a right to receive, in exchange for being or doing certain things for someone else. For instance, when we’re a people pleaser, there is an underlying expectation that in exchange for suppressing your real self and real wants, you can catering to other people’s needs and wishes and trick/coerce/lure them into unwittingly giving validation, attention, love etc, or (at the very least) minimise or avoid conflict, criticism, disappointment, and rejection. We spend our time being and doing the things that we feel constitute a “good person” or a “good girlfriend/boyfriend”, even if some of those things involve having no boundaries, and then feel cheated that we’ve gone to these lengths and haven’t won the ‘prize’ of the other running along with the covert agenda.
Many of us carry the belief that if we love someone, that it entitles us to their reciprocation, especially in situations where our lack of boundaries is causing us to effectively punch below our weight with someone who doesn’t treat and regard us as the worthwhile and valuable person that we are. There may also be the belief that love gives us the power to change a person or that if a person claims to have feelings for us, that this ‘should’ give us the right to change them too.
Why do we sometimes get stuck on a person or situation? Aside from struggling to deal with hopes and expectations not being met (disappointment), it’s also to do with perspective on the situation. When you start uncovering the beliefs that are driving this stuckness, there’s a lot of ‘shoulds’ in there, and behind these, is also the perception of what they should have been able to do or receive. When things do not work out, you may wonder what is wrong with you?
As I have said in previous posts, it is not about our worth or having the power to control other people’s behaviour and feelings with our pleasing. Where we really need to go back to is the question of what is it that we feel entitled to? This may well be where we are harming ourselves with our perspective.
Of course, when we examine our beliefs around this, we can evaluate whether we’re being fair and reasonable to us. For instance, if we weren’t into a person but they’d set their sights on us, do we think it’s fair for that person to feel entitled to us and to pursue it even to the detriment of their self-esteem or our own? I’m guessing your answer is no. So in the same way, if we feel entitled to a person, are we putting our vision of things ahead of reality?
There is a big difference between choosing to do something based on people pleasing/having an agenda and actually having a moral/legal duty to be or do something. Likewise, there is also a big difference between need and want. We have a need for companionship and intimacy but that’s not the same as having the desire to possess something. When a relationship doesn’t work out, that isn’t the end of that part of life forever more. The need for a relationship can be fulfilled in a different way with someone else, as long as we’re not telling ourselves that the only way that the need can be met is with our desire to possess what may be a toxic person.
Always reevaluate decisions to give help if not getting the hoped for reward would change the desire to do something in the first place. If a sense of what you ‘should’ get or what people ‘should’ do as a result of what you’re being and doing, is driving a lot of your thinking, behaviour, and choices, it’s time to come back to base. Cut out the ‘shoulds’ and open yourself up to feeling better and moving forward. Don’t should yourself.
“To those who have given up on love: I say, trust life a little bit” Maya Angelou
It has been a challenging year. I’ve been reflecting on my journey this year and the place in which I find myself now and wanted to share some thoughts. In looking at what we don’t want, we should look at what we do want. It is worth remembering that what you focus on, you manifest. So ask yourself, what are you looking for?
There are men out there who will respond to your text messages. Men who will initiate conversations because they want to see what you’ll say next. There are men who will never be too busy or too preoccupied to wish you good morning, regardless of whether you are in a different country or only a few streets away. Men who call when they say they will (because they want to) and those who surprise you with their curiosity about even your monotonous days. There are men who aim to be the last person you talk to before you sleep and the first name you see on your screen when you wake up. Men who show up on time, or even early, and men who are genuinely excited to see you.
There are men who want to go on dates. Real dates. Men who want to take you out to their favorite restaurant and will never expect you to pay, but will always appreciate the gesture. There are men who want to talk to you for longer than a drink after work and longer than what’s enough to get you upstairs. There are men who you won’t have to convince to see you. Men who aren’t purely motivated to be your sexual company, but just love being around you. There are men who won’t wait three days or even three hours to ask you out again. Men who have grown past games and cryptic messages that you don’t have time or energy to decode. There are men who simply and truly just want to get to know you.
There are men who want hold your hand in public. Men who enjoy walking around department stores shopping for things they can’t afford but love the feeling of your fingers interlaced with theirs. There are men who love sitting next to you on the train just so they can look at your face, even if they notice the uneven lines and imperfect skin in the terrible lighting, because they see all of you.
There are men who want to be your boyfriend. Who want to introduce you as their girlfriend to their friends and to their families. Men who aren’t emotionally unavailable, who are ready for a relationship, who aren’t ripe with excuses why the timing or the situation, the feeling or the possibility just isn’t right. Men who don’t blame yesterday on their immature inability to develop something today and imagine tomorrow. There are men who wouldn’t pass on the chance to be yours because they know how amazing, how special, how superbly wonderful you are, and that they’re lucky you want to be with them, and only them. There are men who don’t hesitate on commitment. Men who want to grow with you and learn with you, love you the best they can, be with you as long as you allow them to. Men who don’t reply “thank you” when you say those precious three words. There are even men who say that incomparable phrase first, not second.
There are men who are proud of your successes, not intimidated by them. Men who are amazed by your determination and passion, who see the things inside of you that you can’t notice yet, or decide to ignore. There are men who believe in your future as much as they believe in the world you can create together. Men who want to witness your bad times and your good, be there when you fail and celebrate when you find that sense of belonging that we all look for, but never know quite what it means until we stumble across it. There are men who know to kiss your forehead when you’ve had a rough day, men who remember you don’t ever take advice in the worst of situations, but you’ll want to hear it in the morning. Men who remind you of all the things to come and promise to be there when you get to the top of that mountain you’re climbing. There are men who really mean that and are there at the peak and in the valley. Men who are simply there.
There are men who listen. Men who linger on each and every word you say because they know they will never know too much about you, and are intrigued to always learn more, regardless of how long they’ve known you. There are men who have the ability to put your needs before their own, who remember the first time they noticed something different about you. Men who like the way you look right after a long shower or the gym, when you’re dressed to go out and when you’re chilling, hair back and no makeup on. Men who see your insecurities but find them only a small part of what makes you beautiful. There are men who will remember your birthday, the day you met, the moment they knew they loved you and when you made them want to be a better person. There are men who love your thoughtful heart as much as they’re turned on by your soft body. Men who know how hard you like it, what part of your neck gets you going and that sometimes, you really just need to be spooned until you fall asleep. There are men who will accept you for whatever you are and whoever you are. Men who will stand by you and fight for you. because they know you’re worth it. Because they know you’d do the same for them.
There are men who will spend weeks, months or even a year planning the perfect way to propose. Men who not only realise how special that moment will be to you, but how important of a story it’ll be to the children you don’t have yet. There are men who want to watch the wrinkles form around your eyes and especially around your mouth, because they’ve spent decades listening to that laugh they love come out of the sweetest smile they’ve ever seen. Men who will leave you notes by your morning coffee or send you sweet – or dirty – text messages at work, even after you’ve been married fifteen years. There are men who will adore all of the things that make you a woman, even when those things bear babies instead of nights of sexual release, even when those things drag instead of rise to occasions. There are men who truly, honestly, completely will love you.
There are so many men out there. But you’ll never meet them if you don’t let go of the guys you really don’t want to find the men you really deserve. The men who are waiting to meet someone just like you.
This may sound strange (coming from a therapist) but I absolutely believe that sometimes we can waste our time explaining and discussing us with someone who does not want to listen, or is incapable of hearing us.
Imagine, if you will, the following scenario. Please note that this scenario can equally apply in reverse: Woman thinks she has met her Prince when in fact, he is anything but (which deep down she possibly suspected, but ignored). From the point at which he begins to act up, it becomes a quest to ‘change’ him and to get him to understand things from her point of view. He does things such as disappearing, standing her up, lying, cheating and his words and actions contradict. What would you do? There are some people (in my experience, usually women) who would keep talking and explaining why they do not accept these actions.
Women Who Talk and Think Too Much syndrome is when you just can’t stop discussing, explaining, questioning, arguing, debating, and yes, sometimes talking to your partner. When that is done, you switch to ‘thinking’ mode, where you try to think out your relationship to a 100% outcome. In essence, what is happening here is that inaction in relationship is covered up with an urge to ‘communicate’. It is an overload of communication except there is very little ‘exchange’ of anything.
How do you tell if you have this syndrome? In short, if you sense you are with someone who is treating you less than, and you’re still trying to ‘figure him out’ and you’re still trying to ‘talk him round’, or you’re near losing your mind trying to explain to him why his latest actions are so wrong, then you may well have it. When you have the syndrome, you have become a woman of indecision.
Let’s break this down. If a man isn’t treating you in a decent way, why do you think that repeatedly getting angry, telling him how you feel,telling him what he’s done, and telling him pretty much everything that is on your mind, is going to make a difference? For this discussion to be worthwhile, don’t you need to have an ounce of thought and empathy? You need to ask, if he acted with integrity and if he empathised with you, or anyone for that matter, would he have put you in this situation in the first place?
In a relationship with good foundations, a healthy level of discussion is perfectly fine although you don’t want to spend more time discussing your relationship than actually living it. However, when a man shows you repeated disrespect and there is really only one of you in the ‘relationship’, why are you effectively blowing out hot air?
Talking is useful, but it doesn’t solve anything if no action comes from it. The reality is that with men who are unreceptive to anything you have to say or who hear what they want to hear anyway, it is a complete waste of your time to:
- Keep have ‘defining the relationship’ talks. If you have to keep defining, it isn’t defined.
- Keep explaining why his treatment of you is unacceptable. If he’s treated you badly for the 18th time, why are you explaining to him what he has done yet again? He knows. He also knows that he can continue to do it without any real consequences.
- Keep telling him what things could be like if only he’d change and be as you expect. This is simply not going to happen. He either is or he isn’t and that is the danger with only seeing the potential in someone, rather than taking note when someone shows you who they are.
- Keep telling him that you love him – Do not make the mistake of believing that telling someone you love them will give them reason enough to treat you decently. If someone repeatedly disrespects you, it will give him reason to think he can do as he likes…
When all is said and done, at some point, you are going to have to do something. Change does not come from staying in your comfort zone.
Have you ever been a victim of your own great expectations? Whilst it is perfectly normal to have expectations to some level, if you find yourself in dubious relationships or constantly disappointed by those around you, you may just be caught somewhere between under-expectation and over-expectation. After a while, this can become rather like putting your bucket down an empty well.
We all have personal core values and use boundaries to know our limits and teach people how to treat us. We need to go out into the world with a reasonable level of trust and adjust accordingly, we should also go out into the world with reasonable levels of expectation for results.
If we under-expect, it may be because we believe that it it all that we deserve or we can’t do better. Such beliefs will attract in people that cater to these beliefs. Sometimes, we may not expect too much of others because we don’t want them to expect too much of us. Unfortunately, while they may deliver on your level of under expectation, if you have little or no boundaries and are not aware of what you are communicating about yourself, you’ll have people who will even manage to under-deliver on your already low expectations.
In the same vein, if we over-expect, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure because of unrealistic expectations. These communicate that you’re high maintenance, emotionally demanding, and possibly controlling. Sometimes, we may have high expectations because we don’t want people to get too close in case they discover the flaws that we try to hide from others.
Whilst it is more than okay to have expectations, the value in having them comes from recognising that there may be a difference between what you expect and what is actually happening. The value is also in doing something with the information, and sanity checking to make sure that your expectations are in line with the situation and not just something that you made up with no solid basis.
When you have expectations, it is important to know your own values and personal boundaries and recognise when things don’t match up. The only way you can do this is by opening your eyes, listening, and paying attention to actions. It is impossible to be aware of what is happening around you if you are in denial and building illusionary sandcastles in the sky. Where there is a difference between your expectations and reality, it is a signal that:
- Someone is not meeting your expectations because there are fundamental incompatibilities.
- Someone is not meeting your expectations because they’re unrealistic.
- Someone is not meeting your expectations because you get involved with people and situations that are the least likely to deliver on your expectations.
- Someone is exceeding your expectations – this is hopefully a good thing (although some people get suspicious and sabotage things…)
Above all, if your expectations are not being met, it’s important to ask yourself why. It may also a good time to ask yourself if you have ever communicated your expectations or whether you’ve just assumed them? You may argue that what you expect is only ‘normal’ but what is normal is all relative to the relationship. So, if your expectations are not being met, it is time to communicate your expectations to the other to find out whether they are actually capable of meeting them. They may be unaware that these are your expectations. They also have the right to tell you if what you’re expecting is unrealistic from them.
Expectations in relationships are a two way street – you can’t expect in isolation and just ‘expect’ that people will jump to the beat of your drum. Communication is two-way and expectation is one-way. Communicating your expectation gives the other person a right of reply and the opportunity to communicate their expectations too. This can be an opening to meaningful communication or it can be the opening to recognising that you both want different things and may have a difference in values. While this may be painful, this is a lot better than being disappointed when expectations that have not been communicated remain unmet.
Relationship insanity is choosing same guy/woman different package, carrying the same beliefs, baggage, behaviours and attitudes, and then expecting different results.Let’s say you’ve had the same expectations all of your adult life and so far, nobody has met your expectations. Do you keep expecting and hope that one day someone will make you the exception? Is it time to have an honest conversation with yourself and ask if what you are expecting (whether it is too little or too much) is realistic?
One of the traps that people fall into is that when people don’t meet their expectations, they don’t assess the situation and the ‘risk’ and work out what is going on. Instead, they adjust their expectations to fit in with the other person’s behaviour. Now it is one thing if you had some major epiphanies and realised your expectations were wholly unrealistic and you were killing a great relationship. However, it is quite another when your expectations get managed down so much that you expect little or nothing, and end up with little or no boundaries.
The key with expectations of people and expectations about situations is much like trust. They must be evidence based and adjusted to reflect positive and negative information that has the power to affect your perception of things. In the same way that you shouldn’t love and trust blindly, you shouldn’t expect blindly either.
We subconciously choose people that reflect what we believe about relationships, love, and ourselves. If these beliefs are negative, our fears and beliefs will show up in our relationships creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you don’t understand the importance of values, you will not only allow people to disrespect your boundaries, but you will also expect more from people than they are capable of delivering. This means that you will be perpetually disappointed.
Perhaps it is time to get conscious about your expectations, beliefs and how they are linked to your relationship behaviours, else you may just keep on expecting and believing that the problem is ‘them’. The responsibility to take care of yourselves and manage the risk is all yours. Expecting this from others may well be just expecting too much.
Some people jeopardise, sabotage and break the things that they love. Compulsively. Their way of feeling as if they love something, or to feel that it is valuable, is to put it at risk or try to break it.
At some point, they’ve learned to associate desiring something and it being of value, with uncertainty and risk to themselves. So, they desire something or someone the most when they’re unsure of whether they can attain it/them, or when they’re in danger of losing it. Some people will put themselves and even the object of their ‘affections’ to the test by risking losing it all. When they have it, they fear being hurt by it, so the cycle begins again. They may enjoy the power and the danger, even if the other person involved is actually going through emotional torment and it creates a lingering trust issue. People who jeopardise and sabotage that which they love need to know that they can lose what they love in order to feel as though they actually want it. Confused? You won’t be the first.
Relationships (and life) involves us having to be vulnerable. We make choices and decisions to commit, and there are often no guarantees that it will work out. Often, when we struggle to trust ourselves and others, what we’d really like is to know exactly how things are going to go so that we can eliminate or reduce our risk. Sadly, that is just not how life works. There is always the possibility that we can lose something or someone, which is how life works. When we say we’re going to commit to somebody, we can expect to be vulnerable in that. For some of us, not only does our fear of commitment make us feel conflicted over vulnerability in intimacy, but it may also mean that we spend most of our time ostensibly ‘in it’, but subconsciously looking for a way out or sabotaging it.
The sabotage begins when they start to get too close to their feelings and begin to feel uncomfortable. Even if it is not fully understood where these feelings are coming from, there will be an element of underlying fear, inadequacy, and even resentment. They may be confused at having of something of value and so they start to devalue it from a place of feeling unworthy. At the same time, once they’re in danger of losing and are out of control, they suddenly value what they have, feel worthy of ‘ownership’ and want to keep it. If they have to fight to regain their position, it confirms that they are worthy of that person (or thing). They may even feel as if the risk has somehow levelled the playing field. Some like to feel the sensation of jeopardising something and then swooping back in to fix it. They feel powerful.
Of course, when a person keeps jeopardising someone they love, even if it’s not what they consciously intended, it does sabotage not just the commitment but also the intimacy in the relationship. Where one is being sabotaged, then so is the other. By putting the relationship at risk, they actually get to control how vulnerable they are. No one can get close enough, so it would not hurt if they were to lose that person. Their actions also stop a person from truly knowing them in a deep way. Frustratingly and very painfully, a person who keeps putting their relationship at risk may also be taken back time after time and so is not experiencing a great deal of natural consequence. Gradually, they may lose respect for the person who is attributing too much value to them. They may take greater and greater risks and become increasingly careless, all while chasing the feelings that they associate with desire and love. These feelings that they chase are temporary, which is why, until the root causes of their issues are address, they will just lather, rinse, repeat. Just like people-pleasing only makes us feel temporarily better or even ‘safe’, the high from sabotage and jeopardy is also temporary – too much short-term thinking and avoidance. It’s exhausting, confusing and frustrating for all parties concerned.
If you have to keep running the risk of losing something to want it, then you do not truly value or want it. I’d suggest that what you want is a win and control situation, which isn’t really about being truly in control but more about avoiding feeling vulnerable.
A word to those on the receiving end of this – never give anyone the impression that there is no limit to what you will put up with because it says, ‘I don’t value me and you don’t need to either.’ Boundaries and treating ourselves with love and care says to other to value and respect you, or else leave you to be around someone who will, even if that’s just you for the time being.
If you’re with somebody who keeps jeopardising you and your relationship, there comes a point, when you have to realise that you can’t keep being gambled and put in emotional harm’s way to keep someone’s interest. It is neither healthy or mutually fulfilling. They’re too busy sabotaging things for the sake of their ego and keeping their own fears at bay when they could be forging a mutual, loving relationship. You have better things to do with your time than to be fighting someone to stop throwing away what you have.