Relationships require a healthy balance of giving and taking, reciprocity, respect, commitment and effort but sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships where we’re constantly overextending ourselves to other people as they do the bare minimum. We do that out of love or wanting to feel needed or trying to prove our commitment to the other person but whatever the reason is, it rarely gives us what we need in return, if anything, it leaves us feeling empty and unappreciated.
I’ve seen a pattern where people do that repeatedly in different relationships and expect different results. The problem, I’ve realized, seldom lies in the other person but it mainly lies in us. In how we teach people how to treat us, in what we allow and accept and what we don’t, and in setting clear boundaries and standards for others to respect. I’m not saying that it has to be an equal give and take but it has to be mutual, reciprocal and leaves you feeling satisfied and content instead of frustrated and undervalued.
We often hold on to relationships that are not working for us just because we don’t have faith in ourselves that we can find the love we want. We’re afraid to repeat the cycle all over again. We don’t want to lose the people we care about or risk changing the dynamic of the relationship but that’s exactly where the problem is. The ‘dynamic’ we’re afraid to change is exactly the one we need to drop because it hasn’t yielded the outcome that we want. Our patterns are not working for us and continuing to change partners, not patterns will only create more of the experiences that haven’t worked.
Sometimes this also signifies that we may have a deeper wound we need to attend to, a part of us that still needs healing. Maybe it’s something related to our childhood or how we perceived love that triggers us to attract partners who don’t go the distance or match our efforts but it’s always beneficial to choose the road less traveled and work on these issues instead of succumbing to the circumstances and trying to be the only person moving the relationship forward.
Therapy can always help us get to the root of these issues and uncover the underlying problems that keep us stuck in the same vicious cycle so we can learn how to pick healthier patterns in our future relationships and avoid the old ones. Don’t be afraid to have expectations or set boundaries in your relationships and don’t be afraid to walk away if you’re the one doing all the work in your relationships. This is how you break the cycle. This is how you change the pattern.