When we find ourselves going the extra mile for people who wouldn’t do the same for us consistently, we have lost sight of our value. I’ve seen this play out through the years not only in my own relationships, but in many others, too.
I think at its root, the reasons vary as to why some of us are willing to go over and beyond for others when they don’t do the same for us. For me, it was a way I showed someone love and I felt like I had to be flexible, “reasonable” (my definition of reasonable at that time was far from what is actually reasonable), fair and amenable. I actually felt guilty if I didn’t give someone what they wanted or if I didn’t feel comfortable letting someone close to me borrow money. Instead of saying no, I would sort out in my head how I could “make it work”.
But the truth is, I wasn’t like this because I was just “too nice”. I not only lacked healthy boundaries, I lacked a true sense of self and did not value myself, time or money. And I operated this way in my closest relationships.
Now sometimes you do give more in a relationship, and in a healthy relationship it happens on both sides. There is a natural ebb and flow, and it isn’t one sided.
Because this tends to happen to us in our closest relationships, let’s look at the foundation of what a healthy relationship looks like. This is my list and I go into depth on each one here.
1.) You can be happy and whole on your own.
2.) There is trust on both sides.
3.) Each person is authentic, and they love and respect who each other is at their core.
4.) You both know how to effectively communicate.
5.) Each person takes personal accountability and responsibility for their own feelings, actions and thoughts.
6.) You treat each other with respect.
7.) You both welcome boundaries and aren’t offended by each other setting them.
8.) Each partner makes the relationship a priority and actively puts forth effort.
9.) You both know how to resolve conflict.
10.) Both show gratitude and appreciation for each other.
Numbers 7 and 8 are crucial. When you set personal boundaries, the people in your life should be okay with it. There shouldn’t be any anger or drama. Pay attention when people react with anger and hostility to your boundaries. If someone reacts this way, they do not respect you.
In a healthy relationship, each person makes the other a priority and puts forth effort. And sometimes your partner is going to be super busy and you’re going to have to pick up the slack there and many put forth more effort. But your partner is also willing to do the same for you and shows that on a consistent basis.
What we need to remember is that if we don’t see our own self-worth, we will always choose people who don’t see it, either. I always say this – we teach people how to treat us.
Make sure you are valuing yourself, time, money and the things that make you happy. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Know yourself and what are dealbreakers for you. And remove yourself from people who treat you like your time doesn’t matter, like your feelings are worthless or like your soul is replaceable.
And if you find yourself struggling with how to remain empathetic and loving in your relationships, while creating boundaries for yourself, you are definitely not alone. I wrote a list of questions I ask myself to help formulate boundaries that you can check out here.