Nobody owes you a relationship 

I am occasionally reading a family forum where once in a while there is a topic about new girlfriend of a man who has chosen to leave his family (of course with the question as to how they can potenially every be happy with this guy knowing he left his former family). Maybe I am not the best to give value judgements here, because no one has ever left me because of some new woman (men were so miserable with me that they did not need a new woman to help them :D). I can understand the feelings of betrayal and disappointment when you are being lied to or cheated on and I think both the new woman as well as man should be held accountable for that (in case there was a parrallel relationship). However what I do not understand is the kind of mentality which I often think follows such posts, which is thinking as if these men owe it to be with the wife.

I think this kind of mentality is very dangerous and I have seen it with my ex best friend as well as my mum in relation to me. Mostly in their case they imagined that because of what they had done for me and because of our history together, they could treat me however they wanted and I somehow owed them my company and loyalty. I am a very loyal person as well as very grateful to everyone that has ever done something for me or showed caring. However, there was a point where even I had enough.

In my best friend’s case there were examples such as me going to my home country for two days and she lamenting about me not allocating her the exact time she wanted. Whereby she just asked why the hell I bothered to come at all if I do not even have time to meet her. Mind me, the next time we met, she was mostly criticizing me and telling me what I do wrong with my life. So that was the point where I understood that she does not put any value to my loyalty. She takes me for granted and even more so, she thinks that I ought to be loyal and offer my company to her. What happened to my mum was pretty much the same.

So every time I hear someone accusing their ex for being an asshole for leaving them, I get suspicious. If someone is unable to point out a single mistake they did in the relationship which might have caused their former partner to leave, I can fully empathize with the leaver. Quite honestly, I would leave as well. It is difficult to be together with someone who thinks that they are never at fault and is so keen on blaming everyone else, besides themselves. I understand if this is a period, but if someone meets me one year after their breakup and they are still mainly convinced that their ex is an asshole and they were the greatest partner ever, then I will try to distance myself from this person.

In my mind people who have the entitlement complex are dangerous. They assume that just because this other person once chose to be with them, that somehow makes them entitled for their love. No, it does not. You actually need to keep treating this person nice; you have to actually listen to them when they are trying to communicate about potential relationship problems. They do not owe you a relationship or family. There is no reason why your problematic behavior should somehow be ignored. If they leave, it is probably because of you both, not only because they were unable to be a good partner.

 

Advertisements

Relationships with entitled people

Do you have people whose every phone call makes you shiver and want to run miles away? Well, I realized that for me such a person has been my mum. And then my ex best friend and perhaps one of my exes and a few other people… What joins all these people together however is a sense entitlement and the very demanding attitude they have taken towards me. The underlying idea seems to me the following – they assume I owe them my love and well lets face it submission since they provide me certain other services. It really is a contract where as a gratitude for some protection or what not I become the person satisfying their needs. When these needs are not satisfied, logically I get an angry reaction.

My ex best friend contacted me recently after two years of total silence. This was a big one. I was just there in shock, trying to figure out what to do. Finally I did something which I am still so proud of.  Namely asked if anything in her attitude towards relationships and friendships had changed over the years and if she thought that there was some evidence which confirmed that we could get along today.

I assume that it was a shock for her. People like my mum and my ex best friend do not think that way. They think you owe them something and that it is just a matter of time till you come back to them because you are so dependent. It surprises them if you choose not to return. It surprises them even more if you actually start setting boundaries and also setting demands on them. Somehow control is lost.

For years I was an errandboy for my mums needs. Whenever she would call with another demand, I was there to run and please. Being in her proximity made me nervous because there was always some hidden expectation which I never realized and which would make her explode. Through my reaction to my ex best friends contact I realized the pattern was the same with her. I felt like I needed to conform and realize her needs and demands without words being expressed.

I am not saying these were one sided relationships, not at all. After all I got my protection, I got some caring and whatever else that I wanted. However, I am realizing that I do not need the benefits anymore. Not if the cost is having to be constantly alert to someone else’s needs and having to be ready for an anger outburst if I have not attended to their needs.

So essentially I feel I have made great progress because I am actively choosing to say no to demanding and entitled people in my life. After so many years, I do not really think I will end up in another relationship or friendship with such a person.

Why some people act entitled?

I am currently visiting my mother and that has given me so much food for thought. Today, inspired by a recent event with my mum, I wanted to talk about entitlement.

The event in itself was following. My mother asked me to help her with something. However it quickly appeared that she had most her days booked and she in fact had only very few times she could do the chore. Instead of telling me, OK fine, I must have made a miscalculation here, she started blaming me for never helping her and resorted to her room where she sat pouting the whole evening. This behavior just puzzled me so much, because there were so many things wrong here. I mean…..

If you ask someone a favor, in my mind you are going to be accommodating towards this person and you do your damnest to agree on a time that fits them. What you definitely do not do is to demand that they cancel their plans. Finally if they refuse, you do not go into pouting mode, which only lets the helper know that you are unable to take into account their needs.

So I concluded that there are some people that just feel entitled. Mind me, my mum does not feel such entitlement about other people, but she feels it about me. She feels that she is entitled for accommodating and nice behavior from me, irregardless of how she behaves herself.

And now comes the moment of honesty. My ex told me numerous times that I acted entitled during our relationship. I never understood what he was talking about. In my mind he had issues with people’s expectations (and he did). However, I am now starting to see his point of view. So why did I act entitled?

I acted entitled, because I thought asking people for things made me inferior. It set me to the position of one man down, so I did not do that with strangers, but in relationships, I thought I should not have to do that. This imaginary position of inferiority made me feel so bad that I would rather go around and tell him what he owed me than actually ask for things. Of course, my ex would also go around telling me constantly what he had done for me, so this did not help with my feelings of inferiority.

Anyways, based on my own behavior, I assume that people who act entitled feel extremely vulnerable when asking something from someone. In order to avoid feeling vulnerable, they would rather go and aggressively demand it, because then the other people do not see that they are actually in need of help. Instead they show as fighting for their rights or whatnot. Anything but not weak and vulnerable. I think, at least for me, understanding where this entitlement comes from, makes it easier to deal with it.

How do people deal with uncertainty in relationships?

Sometimes I wonder how people survive the dating period. You know, you do not have any kind of security, everything seems to be out in the air. Or even, how do people survive any kind of waiting period, waiting for their partner to be ready to get married, waiting their partner to be ready to have kids whatever..

I think my trust in people has never been my greatest strength, but my last relationships have made me just so insecure about people around me. Seriously….First, I move to another country for a guy who then starts doubting whether he wants to be together with me. I mean not that such doubts are ever nice, but such doubts are definitely not nice after you have discussed how many kids you want to have or which kind of house you would prefer. Somehow the security which you thought was there is swiped underneath you feet….Then I have a long relationship with a guy who just makes his own plans and lets me know that he has now planned to go to foreign country for two months, furthermore, he also does not bother to communicate much during this time. Finally, I date with a guy who just disappears without saying a word. My trust in guys is destroyed, I am afraid…

Other people seem to manage just fine, which makes me think, am I somehow with my negative thinking creating these scenarios. Does my insecurity scare these guys away? Or do I choose guys who are insecure about me by definition? I have no idea. Actually I have no idea anymore how I would be able to sustain my trust and cool during the dating period after so many negative experiences.

Even though part of me means that I should work with my insecurities and just learn to accept that I do not know where life takes me, there is another part which says – but if a guy cannot even offer me any kind security in terms of where this relationship is going, what good is he? Maybe trying to keep my cool is what lead me to such situations after all, maybe if I had trusted this insecurity, I had broken off these liaisons way earlier. You see my struggle here?

Honestly, I do not have an answer….The only thing that I can say is that I have not felt myself secure with a man for a very long time.

Believing that we deserved to be treated badly by our parents

Every therapy starts with the therapist trying to explain to the patient that there is an alternative way of being fostered. That there actually was something wrong with how we were treated. Every therapy ends with the patient finally understanding it on an emotional level…..

It is easy to read books and rationally understand that our parents messed up. I mean, on a rational level we understand that probably our parents beating us were not really right or kicking us out or what not. But I think on an emotional level almost every therapy patient believes we actually deserved to be treated that way.

Take me for instance. As someone who internalized guilt, I have been in the habit of excusing other people’s behavior. When my ex was verbally aggressive, it was because he had his issues. He had his ADHD, his shame whatnot and I was too needy, I should have not been that way. When a guy that I recently had a developing courtship disappeared suddenly, I understood him, because well, he was feeling like a failure in his life and he needed to gain confidence in order to be available for the relationship and I pushed him too hard. Finally, I understood my mother’s violent outbursts, I mean she was working so hard and I was not cleaning up at home, I was lazy, I was not talented enough. She had her own reasons.

I never allowed myself to be sad. I never allowed myself to blame them openly for how they treated me. I never held them accountable. Instead, I directed the blame back to myself, relentlessly searching for all the things I did wrong. The thing is, you can always find things you did wrong. The problem is when you start thinking that because you did things wrong you deserved to be treated that way.

We all make mistakes, but the victims of childhood abuse are punished for their mistakes and for things that were not even their mistakes in a gruesome manner. Over the years they start believing that this is actually what they deserve. The cycle goes on as we expect the same kind of behavior from our partners. Furthermore, we do not even allow ourselves to feel pain for our partners treating us badly, because in the end we brought this bad treatment upon ourselves, did we not?

Well, I am slowly trying to change the court. I am trying to actually start holding others accountable for at least half of the standards I have held myself accountable for over the years. I am trying to not assume that when other people treat me badly it is because I deserve this. Well, I am speaking in present, but actually it is a future plan….

Feelings of unimportance

Today I am going to talk about something which is rather painful for me – namely the feeling of being unimportant. I have felt unimportant for my friends, my parents, my boyfriends, you name it. I have no idea how much of it is the result of this deep seated need inside of me which longs for someone who would finally make me feel like a priority (a need which can never be fully satisfied) and how much of it is related to me choosing particular people into my life. However…..

I am sad to admit that I spent most of the time being together with my ex feeling unimportant. On some occasions I can surely see that the problem was mine, however in many situations, as I realize now, he really behaved in ways which would leave anyone feelings dismissed. So what did my ex do?

Well lets start with the fact that he planned trips to his home country without telling me. He just told me a day or two in advance that he is now going. Moreover, when in his home country, he always protested loudly against having to schedule times meeting me. Rather, he wanted to have fun with his friends and mostly just avoid talking to me (note that sometimes his visits extended to several months). Throughout the relationship my ex let me know that communication is something that he does for me. He thought, he does not need communication and furthermore talking to me does not give him any satisfaction. Finally, my ex most of the time did not bother to let me know if he was late (we are talking about 2-3 am late), instead he would purposefully ignore my calls (no I did not call ten times in a row). I am guessing it made him feel important and powerful, knowing that I was worrying about him.

These are all activities which I think are not OK in a good relationship and these activities uniformly communicate – you do not matter. I could continue the list, but I think it is unnecessary. But the feeling of not mattering runs deep in me – why else would I accept such behavior. Furthermore, I not only accepted it, I secretly hoped that one day my ex will realize how valuable and important I am. How he will tell me that he needs me too. How he will tell me that he actually wants this relationship, he wants me…

This is in fact the main issue with such feelings of unimportance. We keep choosing people who make us feel unimportant and then hope to convert them. We hope that by showing to those who put low value in us what we are worth finally helps us to feel redeemed, significant….all things we never got to experience during our childhoods.

My feelings of unimportance are painful and I have only recently come to even realize how big of a role they have played. For years I have tried to mask these feelings with addictions, replacement activities…whatever just to keep the pain away. The disappearance of the pain through these activities is however an illusion, because the pain always comes back. So now, slowly, I am daring to talk about these feelings, daring to at least get a vague idea about where they come from. I am not fully ready to immerse myself in this experience, but step by step….

Why I am uncomfortable with dating – inability to say no

So, for the past days, I have been mulling over my potential issues related to online dating and the guys going into chasing mode. I think I am starting to finally understand what my problem is.

I do not know how to say no. In my childhood saying no was not really something that was acceptable. Me defending my interests or borders was interpreted as aggressive and rebellious and this was to be pushed down the minute it was seen. By the age of seven I had become so docile that when visiting someone I was afraid to ask where the toilet was. I was afraid to say when I had some pain or when I did not want to eat what was offered. Basically, I was afraid of creating any kinds of waves or attracting any kind of attention to myself.

This inability to say no lead me becoming a victim of child molesters. These guys know their game, they know whom to choose as a victim. Even though I was never sexually abused as a child (at least I think I was not), I became a head target for 50 year old guys, simply because they sensed my inability to say no. So all kinds of things happened from these guys touching my knees to dry humping. Luckily since I was never alone with these guys and never agreed to go anywhere with them, the worst never happened. However, I need to thank god that I was not particularly popular among teenage guys, because I swear to god, I would have just plainly done everything they told me to do.

So when I talk to guys in the internet, I suddenly become this little child again. I cannot tell them when they have crossed the borders. I am too scared to make any waves. I am too scared to make myself heard. So I am afraid that as I go on a date with someone, this pattern will just be exaggerated and I will just plainly agree doing whatever these guys want me to do. This has happened plenty in my relationships, why would that be any different on dates?

So I need to somehow take care of my vulnerabilities before I can go any further with my dating.

Is workoholism really a problem?

My mother has lived her life working. She spends her weekends plotting a new project, she spends her evenings thinking about some work tasks and occasionally she likes to complain how everyone is so dependent on her and expects her to work so much. I always want to say – of course they do and you actually like this feeling of importance. It compensates for your inner feelings of unlovability. But instead I listen and try to be emapthic as I was throughout my childhood.

Our society glorifies workoholism. It attaches all kinds of negative connotations to other kinds of addictions such as food addiction, alchoholism etc., but workoholism is glorified. I took over my mother’s habit to use work as an escape mechanism. Only lately have I started to counteract this habit and pay attention on other things in my life. At first this came with an immense guilt. I felt like I should be working instead of taking some time to rest or talk to friends or whatnot. Then it came with great feelings of insecurity, because lets face it, areas where you do not invest, do not develop. At the age of 25 I started to first cook for myself. At the age of 28 I started to first take some better care of my body – not going to work when sick. About the same age I started to put more attention to what I was wearing. All these things….

It is still a process I struggle with. Work feels safe and just about the only area where I can feel competent and in control. Most other areas in my life I feel completely incomptenet, mostly because they were never developed. As a 31 year old, my social skills are still somewhat lacking. My way of coping with emotions is problematic. My handling of finances is wanting. I am still learning about basic tips on how totake care of my appearance. All these things that a lot of people learn from home, I never did. Furthermore, I needed to break some heavy barriers to even get to the point where I could spend some time doing these things.

When someone comes from a family of alchoholics, they get societal sympathy. It is uniformly agreed that what happened at their home was dysfunctional. When someone comes from a family of workoholics, not only is the dysfunctionality aspect never talked about, furthermore they might even get the idea that their family values are something worth celebrating. Noone says to a child of alchoholics – you should really be proud of your parents or you should learn from them. On the other hand workholic is set as an example and noone questions whether this is a good and healthy example to set.

My mother did not teach me basic stuff like brushing my teeth. She did not take care of me when I was ill. She did not bother to be emotionally there for me or hold any kind of significant conversations with me about me (most conversations we had were about her work). She did however teach me that it is OK to let your work frustrations out on a child. It is OK to neglect your needs and just work. It is OK to take extra work even if you do not need it. It is OK to work during vacation, well, actually vacations are overrated anyways. It is OK to not do any sports at all. It is OK to eat random junk food, because you do not bother to pay any attention to this. It is OK not to have any social relations. It is OK to not clean the house. Finally, it is also OK to let people down because of your work.

I therefore think that workholism should be taken much more serious than it currently is.

In a relationship with narcissist?

All  – my mother and my two exes show some signs of narcissism. I find that the definition of narcissist as someone who is hiding their true self behind some grandiose false self is quite fitting. It has taken me some time to actually start perceiving these behaviors and narcissistic traits, because I never questioned those.

Lately, with a little bit of distance I am starting to see such behaviors more clearly in my ex. I notice certain manipulative behaviors. For instance, my ex finds it necessary to fill me in, in terms of how many women flirt with him. Hell, he wrote a separate message to tell me. Actually, he was telling me also in the middle of our relationship about some women that flirted with him. This to me seems like a behavior which is catered towards showing ‘how wanted guy he is’.

Another behavior that I have recently noticed is his lack of regard to my feelings. When I actually tried to communicate my feelings in the relationship, my ex repeatedly said that I was overly dramatic and everything circled around my feelings in the relationship and his were never taken into account. Now, I cannot comment on how much I took into account his feelings or not, because obviously I am not an objective judge for that, but what I can say is, if he was really constantly taking into account my feelings over his, then his reactions would not have so often entailed telling me how insignificant those very feelings were. Namely there is a certain discord between him telling me how he never dared to go against my feelings and openly telling me that I was a drama queen. If he really had been so afraid to confront me, he would ha never be able to tell me something like this.

Now another thing, which I have pointed out repeatedly in this blog already was that my ex really did not like when I brought out his negative behaviors or traits. Mostly I thought it was just because he could not accept blame, but now I am coming to see that me pointing to these very weaknesses was actually threatening his false image. I was pointing too much to this vulnerable self that he was trying to cover up. My ex is still pointing out to me that he does not like to analyze himself and he does not like to deal with his feelings. In fact, he hates me doing this as well. I used to think this was some fault of mine – being overly obsessed with these things (ex also openly blamed me for that). Now I see this in a different manner, in fact if you have an open and loving relationship you do open up about these feelings and vulnerabilities. You do not see someone who tries to help you open up as an enemy.

There are multiple other behaviors which I am starting to see, but I will leave these for the next post.

One-sided expectations in relationships

I have always been a very flexible person and also rather accommodating. Being often hampered by fear of disappointing other people, I usually did my best trying to anticipate their wishes and confer with those. When someone got angry with me for not fulfilling their expectations, I was quick to feel bad and apologize.

Recently I have noticed myself getting angry at people who come in and demand something from me without any regard to fulfilling their end of the deal. I am starting to finally realize that expectations should be mutual, it should not only be me fulfilling their expectations, but I too, can have expectations on others.

Let me exemplify this with couple of cases. I have a boss who, as I now understand, often turns to me at the last minute when she needs something to get fixed quickly. This has led to me putting in weekends and extra hours just to get things ready. So yesterday she turned to me again with one of such issues telling me that I had made promises in finishing some task and now it was my job to figure out how to finish it together with other tasks. I got angry, because this task was meant to be finished by the end of this week, however, my boss herself could not complete her tasks earlier than today and assumed that I would somehow magically make my part happen within few days (counting weekend). Her accusations on me not fulfilling my promise were skillfully neglecting her not being able to fulfill her bargain of the deal.

Another example involves a friend who just couple of days ago was angry at me for brushing her off when she was trying to describe her problem via phone. It was an inconvenient time for me, but nevertheless I apologized. The same friend, when I tried to tell her about my medical issue, which is a tad more serious than her problem, was as unemphatic as ever. Moreover, she found that she has nothing to apologize for, because I called the wrong time. I am still angry at her.

These two examples illustrate something that has been going on for years. Namely, me quickly apologizing when people accuse me, not thinking if maybe their accusations do not comply with how they themselves would react in similar situation. Furthermore, it also illustrates the pattern of me trying to fulfill other people’s expectations without setting any demands on them from my side. It somewhat feels like a lightbulb has turned on in my head.