How to Be Smart in a World of Users
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
But before I do, be forewarned – you may be offended, disgusted, or even downright furious.
You might be driven to kick yourself at the obvious simplicity of it all once I lay it out for you.
Or, you may say to yourself, “Who does this woman think she is?”
Nonetheless, I’m going to say it because it’s not easy to come across this information unless you spend hours combing narcissism and codependency sites, and even then, it’s not always laid out for you in the way I’m about to do for you…
Here it is – if you want to know if your partner appreciates you, you should stop being so nice. You see, while you may pride yourself on being overly giving and a hard worker, your nice and giving nature may well be what holds you back, at least when it comes to meaningful relationships.
No duh, right? I mean, you’ve probably realized by now that people often take advantage of you when you try to be nice to them. But, I’m not talking about the friend who calls you for emotional drive-bys – you know, the one who vomits all of their problems onto you and hangs up feeling refreshed, while you are left feeling antsy and slightly annoyed. (Although that’s a great topic for another article.)
No, I’m talking about the guy or girl you just started dating or perhaps have been seeing a while.
Maybe they’re never happy – you work your butt off to appease them, while they sit on the couch barely noticing your efforts, hinting around about your wonderful future together as they take another bite of pizza during their Netflix marathon.
You, on the other hand, have put in many long months of struggle and sacrifice working for that dangling carrot they call a future, yet they never really commit to you or put in their fair share towards the relationship.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking to yourself, “If I just show them that I think of their needs before they have to ask for anything, they’ll see me as good relationship material”. You buy all of their favorite foods, take them to their favorite restaurants, and buy them special gifts ‘just because’.
You hold out hope that they’ll see your value, but instead, all you get is a bored yawn when you sit next to them on the sofa.
Puzzled, you’ve started putting in double-time because you think maybe the stuff you’ve already been doing for them isn’t enough and if you do more, it’ll be painfully obvious that you’re the perfect person for them.
If you’re wondering what gives, I’ll tell you.
If you’ve been giving 150%, while getting nothing in return, your partner is a User (and probably a Narcissist).
The sad truth is that they don’t need to change or commit because you’re already doing everything they want and taking care of their every need.
You’re effectually rewarding them for their lack of respect and commitment!
I know it’s hard to swallow. I remember how I felt when I realized I’d been taken for a ride while being made to believe there was a happy future out there on the horizon.
All that time and effort down the drain.
I had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to.
How to find out if your partner is a User
If you’re not sure where your relationship is going, pull back on your efforts. Stop being available all the time.
And while you’re at it, start doing more things for yourself.
After a while, one of three things will happen:
1 – If your partner is a manipulative user – or worse, a narcissist – they will experience an injury when you stop catering to them. They took everything for granted and expected you to do those things for them because of their sense of entitlement – knowing that the only thing they had to do in return was whip out the ole “seduction of the tongue”, telling you everything you wanted to hear while delivering nothing in return, save for their World Title for Couch-Riding. There will be name-calling, blaming, and more attempts to get you to play into the “Possibility of Commitment” game. (If you’re married, they may promise to stop cheating if you’ll just go back to them.)
2 – The person who took so much, yet gave so little will reflect on how much they’re missing out on with your being gone and realize they need to step up to the plate. No name-calling, no blame-shifting, and no ridiculous excuses. They’ll realize that your leaving was your way of placing yourself in the “High-Value Category” and they’ll start seeing you that way, too. (this is only possible with non-narcs).
3 – You won’t hear from the person again. If this happens, it doesn’t really matter ‘why’. There could be any number of possibilities, but instead of focusing on the fact they haven’t called, realize that the Universe, God, fate (whichever Higher Power you believe in) has opened up a pathway for you. You won’t have to worry about sinking any more time and effort into a relationship where you wouldn’t have been appreciated. Isn’t that a comforting thought?
Turn red flags into deal-breakers
Whichever of the above scenarios plays out, there’s one thing to be mindful of. Going forward, you’ll want to make a list of deal-breakers and stick to them. No more turning a blind-eye or working harder to prove your worth. Deal-breakers are non-negotiable. You don’t have to throw them out on the table on the first date, but you do want to make them clear if someone crosses the line. A deal-breaker list may look something like this:
- I will not accept name-calling
- I will not accept infidelity
- Communication should be open and mutually beneficial
- I will not accept anyone being mean to my children
- I will not put in the work of two people to keep the relationship going
- I will not stop talking to friends or family at a partner’s request, whether verbally or forced through punishment
- I will not be in a relationship with someone who constantly talks about other people behind their backs
Those are my personal deal-breakers. The list isn’t long because most other things can be negotiable and agreed upon through open and respectful communication. Your list of deal-breakers might be similar. Maybe you’re vegan and you want your partner to be vegan, too. If so, that’s something that shouldn’t be open to compromise.
The bottom line
If you want a truly healthy and loving relationship, your first line of action is to stop accepting anything that devalues you and your sense of right and wrong.
If you want your relationships to change, you have to be willing to change what hasn’t been working for you, even if that means walking away.
Because the cold, hard truth is, you can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and your circumstances.
That doesn’t mean that a healthy and loving relationship won’t have its ups and downs. All relationships do. Just look at lovebirds…they sometimes get annoyed and peck at the other, but two minutes later, they’ve snuggled on their perch again.
They worked it out in a mutually beneficial way.
What about you? Which lovebird will you be? The one snuggled up with a respectful partner, rocking a content look on your fluffy face, or looking like a plucked chicken because you’re constantly stressed – or worse – because your feathers were pulled out by your disrespectful, demanding partner?
The choice is yours.
Copyright © 2017 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved
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