Sometimes I wish men came with labels – narcissist, emotionally unavailable, unfaithful. That would save me a lot of time and energy from opening up my mind, body, and soul only to get hurt. But I would also have to be honest with myself and admit that even if I saw the bright, red label that clearly said “walk away” I would ignore it. It's like I couldn't just listen to the warning signs; I had to be in the relationship and experience the pain of it ending in order to know that it wasn't going to work. Then I would tell myself "at least I tried".
I used to think that I could change the men I dated. Or maybe I thought I could fix them. That I would finally find the one who realized how beautiful and amazing I was and that would be enough for him to want to be in a committed relationship with me. My series of failed relationships should have been a sign that things don’t quite work that way. That sometimes people just are who they are. And regardless of how much I held these men down, supported them, cooked, cleaned, and loved them, I could not make them into something or someone they weren't.
I like to think that I am a good woman. I would even say that I have high self-esteem. So for the life of me, I can’t understand why relationships have always been a struggle and why I always seem to attract men who are clearly no good.
As women, we sometimes think that we can change the men we are with. If we meet a guy who isn't quite ready for a relationship or is unsure about whether or not he wants to be in a relationship, that almost becomes a challenge for us. We go above and beyond to prove how amazing we are and why we are worthy of the prize – the title of being called his girlfriend or wife. It's as if we get a sense of validation and acceptance from being chosen. Unfortunately, we sometimes choose men who are unable to give us what we want and need in a relationship.
Most people can only hide who they are for so long; it's only a matter of time before you begin to see them for who they really are. There are also a lot of men who are honest about what they want from the beginning. So where do we go wrong? We don't listen. We ignore the red flags.
Maybe you've been single for a while.
Maybe you finally met someone you feel a sense of connection to.
Maybe you think he's the one.
But he's been through some shit. He has trust issues from his previous relationship. Or just doesn't feel ready for a relationship. You tell yourself that he just needs time – time to see that you're different; time to see how good you two are together.
But how long are you willing to wait?
Because regardless of how hard you try and how amazing you are, it's quite difficult to change someone's mind once their mind has already been made. And when someone shows (or tells) you who they are the best thing to do is to listen. But oftentimes that's easier said than done – especially when you have feelings for that person and certainly if you have been intimate with that person.
When two people come together and form a relationship on an emotional or physical level, a connection is also formed on an energetic level. That energetic connection can, and oftentimes times does, remain even after the relationship ends. To further complicate things, when a relationship ends many of us blame ourselves. We feel that we weren't good enough for the other person to stick around or to try harder. We feel lied to. We feel disposable. So now, in addition to being connected to the relationship and the emotions surrounding the relationship, we also have limiting beliefs about ourselves, about men, and about relationships in general. It's no surprise that we find ourselves in a repetitive cycle, thinking that if we try harder, things will be different the next time. But we continue to choose men who are unfit from the very beginning.
It's a lot easier to walk away from a relationship that doesn't serve you when you have a positive self-image and know your worth. A woman with high self-esteem and self-worth is a woman who knows she deserves to be treated a certain way and is not willing to settle, make excuses, ignore the red flags, or lower her standards. While many women appear to be confident on the surface, deep inside they struggle with feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or thoughts of not being good enough.
Self-confidence can be defined as your belief in yourself to set and achieve goals. Self-esteem includes the ways in which you think about yourself, feel about yourself, and perceive yourself. Self-worth is the degree to which you feel you are loveable, valuable, and deserving of everything you want in life.
When we find ourselves trying to prove that we are worthy of a title or commitment, oftentimes we are also trying to prove that we are worthy of love. And because self-worth, like self-love, cannot come from someone or something outside of ourselves, we often find ourselves in a never ending cycle where it seems that nothing we do is ever good enough.
Is there a part of you that feels you're not good enough? What would it take for you to know that you are? Good enough for a committed relationship. Good enough for the salary you desire. Good enough to be loved and accepted for the person you are – without having to jump through hoops or go above and beyond to prove it?
What would it take for you to love yourself enough to walk away from the relationships that don't serve you – the moment you see the red flags?
If you've tried self-help books, affirmations, or therapy but still find yourself struggling with the same issues and repeating the same patterns, you have limiting beliefs, or you need additional support, consider signing up for the Conscious Connection workshop. Click here for more details.
The Relationship You Desire Begins With You,
Confessions of a Therapist