In relationships it is often easy to lose track of balance. It’s easy to find yourself in the midst of long term relationships that do not reflect your current awareness of your own value and worth. As we grow and change we sometimes find ourselves in the midst of mature relationships with people we did not so much choose as those who exist within our social or professional proximity. When we recognize that the relationships we are in no longer serve us, the good news is, just because a relationship is long standing doesn’t mean you have to stay in it. Below are some common challenges in mature relationships and some suggestions in how to proceed. I hope these strategies serve you!
Take Up Space
You are allowed to take up space. Any relationship that is predicated upon your being supportive to another person while taking no support for yourself is unhealthy. It’s time renegotiate the terms of the relationship. In relationships both parties deserve to have their needs met. Bending over backwards to assist someone else while they absorb your generosity and offer nothing in return is not a reciprocal or healthy relationship. If your relationship is entirely in service to someone else, that is not a relationship, that is a job. You need to quit unless you willingly plan to volunteer your energy, time and expertise for someone else’s gain.
Keep Some For Yourself
If the conversation is never allowed to be about you, it’s time to reconfigure your attention. Pouring into someone who can never get enough of themselves is a loosing proposition. You will continue to give. They will continue to absorb. And you will have nothing left for yourself. Instead, focus your attention on friends who may in fact reciprocate your care, love, and attention. When you realize that you have come in contact with a relationship vampire it is best to let that relationship go. We give in our relationships but we always keep some of ourselves to ourselves. Just ask Dolly Parton.
Accept Healthy Attention
If a person only notices your absence when it is in relation to their wants and desires, chances are they are not in relationship with you. They are in relationship with with a service you once provided. When someone only wants to get together when they have a task to be completed, they are looking for staff not friendship. Expecting you to be prepared to help them, while being disinterested and unavailable for events that are meaningful to you, they are using you. This person only wants to assure that your attention remains focused on them and their needs while refusing to meet your needs at all.
Anyone who threatens to abandon you or your relationship because it no longer meets their exact specifications is using fear to manipulate you into complying with their wishes. Do not fall prey to this tactic or you will continue to feed an insatiable hunger. Time spent together should be reciprocal and involves both people giving their time and attention to one another. Sharing connection is a gift that allows your bond to flourish and grow. When you find yourself planning parties, trips, and adventures for another person and are then told that, “you’re so hard to buy for, I didn’t get you anything.” OR, “Thank you for the thoughtful gifts, trips, and parties you threw for me but I am unable to return that favor.” This person has chosen this behavior. Unless you change your willingness to cooperate they will continue to take advantage of your kindness.
Make Healthy Choices
Giving to other people in relationships is a choice we make. We can be confused by the difference between sharing our love with others and giving to others so that they might like us in return. It is possible that we have lost our way. When we consider ourselves unlovable, we are willing to accept any connection, even when it does not meet out needs. Perhaps, our sense of self-worth was the problem all along – believing we are worthy and deserving of love and attention. Below please find a list of mantras to support you as you evaluate your mature relationships.
I am worthy of love, attention, and affection.
I am allowed to be the center of attention.
I am deserving of fun.
I deserve to be loved, cared for, and supported.
I want people in my life who care for me and not just what I can do for them.
I want friends and family that know and love me exactly as I am.
I get to choose my friends and family and I will chose those who love me for being myself.
I have intrinsic value. I am magic already. I will find friends who can see, appreciate, and celebrate me.