The Way You Treat Yourself Sets the Standards for Others-Sonya Friedman
It’s been years since I have worked professionally with women in abusive relationships. I miss connecting with women and finding out what’s important to them, hearing their stories of strength and survival.
I got my chance. Some weeks ago, I received an e-mailed invitation from Michael Weinberg of Wizpert to join his crowdsourced compilation of blogger expertise. So I did it. I signed up and can be found at http://wizpert.com/lizbethmeredith.
Now, a few times a week, I open a space in my schedule and offer an ear. I keep hearing a familiar trend:
I just learned my boyfriend is married after a wonderful year of dating. He didn’t tell me. I found out through a friend. Now he’s stopped calling me. How can I stop missing him? I wish he and I could talk. I wish I didn’t miss him.
My boyfriend knows my first relationship was violent, so he never hits me. Usually he’s good to me, but then he calls me names. Once he told me to step into traffic and kill myself. I don’t understand. I don’t feel safe. How can I save this relationship?
I’ve been dating a coworker briefly that my family objects to. I’m in graduate school. My family doesn’t like that he has tattoos from head to toe, and that he’s never looked beyond work at the local grocer. I wish they weren’t so judgmental, so I’m going to take a break from my family. He’s moving in with me now. I do worry that intellectually, he doesn’t keep up with me and doesn’t value what I do. How can I be less judgmental? Am I wrong?
I’m left to wonder why we as women are so committed to twisting ourselves into a pretzel in order to maintain relationships that are not good for us.
Are we still so financially dependent?
Is it the biological clock, quietly urging us to go forth and make babies that trips us up and helps blind us to the realities?
Then I look back into my own youthful dating experiences, and remember the desperation with which I clung desperately to dysfunction after my violent marriage ended. The marriage and family therapist who was two-timing me. The humorous alcoholic Prince Charles look-alike who no-showed for half our dates.
Truth be told, it wasn’t until I was an older woman, financially more secure, and with zero possibility of further procreation that I made consistently better choices based on knowing my worth.
What do I want young women to know?
Dear Young Woman,
You are special. You have a unique contribution to bring your world. You deserve to be treated well. You deserve rich lifelong friendships. Hobbies. A career.
I hope you like yourself. Self-esteem is something that fluctuates like weight, but is your responsibility and yours alone to manage. Low self-esteem won’t cause you to be a victim of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, but it will put you at risk for staying in it.
Things can get better with time. You will learn that you may fall in love with someone who is bad for you, but as an adult, you will choose what you know is right above what your emotions dictate.
Beware of the date that wants all of your time right away. Who keeps you away from family and friends. Who begins to work on killing your feelings of self-worth with small putdowns about your character and your abilities.
If you’re feeling confused or downright depressed, do reach out. You are not alone.
A relationship can be a wonderful thing, but it will never be everything. It cannot fulfill all of your needs.
Do take the time to get to know you. Set your goals for yourself. Who do you want to be? What qualities do you want to bring to a relationship? Then and only then, when you know your own value will you be able to define what qualities you’d like your partner to have.
Take your time. Discriminate. When seeking a partner, you’ll need to be comfortable searching for a person who shares your values and goals. You are worth it. And keep in mind that there are far worse things than being alone, like being lonely and undervalued while in a relationship.
If you put a small Value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise your price. Unknown
What advice would you give a young person in search of a relationship?