I’m going to give you a hypothetical situation, and I’d like for you to tell me whether or not you can relate:
You meet someone new, and become interested in them. You go on a few dates, and really enjoy your time together. Things start to get a little more serious, but in the back of your mind you’re asking yourself: “Why are they interested in me?”
You feel a sense of insecurity creeping in, and tell yourself that in order to keep their attention (so they don’t get bored of you or lose interest), you’re going to have to earn it.
So, you start to make sure you do everything ‘right.’ You sacrifice your own best-interest, or plans, or hobbies, in order to do what you think makes them happy. You change your schedule around for them and essentially begin to mold yourself to what you think they want.
If your answer is yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, I spend a couple of decades of my life approaching relationships in this way. I would feel as though I needed to constantly sell myself to women in order to keep their attention (I go into deep detail about this in an episode of the New School Romance podcast).
I would think that if I pulled off the throttle, even for a second, and stopped showing them how much I wanted to be with them, they would immediately walk away. I felt as though I was holding on to an anvil hanging over a cliff, and that it was entirely my responsibility to keep it from falling.
The real issue here is that you’ve not developed the self-worth necessary in order to understand that you do not have to sell yourself to people. The right person is going to recognize your value without needing to be reminded of it all the time. In fact, if you do consistently remind them, it almost seems like that value is an illusion.
Consider someone who always tells you how cool they are or how much money they have. Odds are, if they have to tell you, it’s not true.
Here are five reasons you need to stop fighting for attention from the person you’re dating:
They don’t actually get to know YOU.
Think about it – if you are always bending and molding yourself to someone else’s wants or desires, how are they actually going to get to know who you are and what you want? All they are really seeing is a reflection of themselves staring back at them, because you’re doing whatever they want without inserting your own opinions.
Some people do this to avoid conflict, others do it because they are far too easy going. Some, even do it because they think if they ‘rock the boat’ the entire relationship will crumble.
These things are only valid in your own mind. It is a clear sign that you’ve not yet developed the confidence to understand that you matter, too. And the person you’re with should value your opinion on an equal level as you value theirs.
You will eventually lose your identity.
I have heard too many times from too many people that they have been in relationships for multiple years, and are completely lost when it ends. Why does this happen?
It happens because they submit themselves too much to what everyone else wants and they don’t stand up for their own values or beliefs. When this happens, you essentially sacrifice your own individuality – so if you suddenly find yourself being single again, what is there to fall back on?
Now you don’t know how to function without being able to rely on the other person to make the decisions, or make the plans, or to give you the validation you’ve required from them. Not a good scene.
You actually HURT the relationship.
Ah, the irony. You do these things for other people because you want to keep the relationship intact, and then wonder why it all falls apart.
It falls apart because a relationship requires two people in order to work. Two individual presences. Two insights on the world. Two people to work through arguments and challenges.
If you are simply a shadow of your partner, there is really just one mind governing the relationship, and one following along – this is not the path to a happy, healthy, solid partnership. Plus, it’s very easy for someone to get bored if the person they’re with is not a self-standing individual with their own passions and viewpoints.
You open the door for cheating to occur.
Absorb this before you read any further: There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for cheating. I don’t believe cheating warrants a second chance, I don’t believe there is ever a good reason for it, and I do not believe the person being cheated on should ever be blamed. Let’s just get that out in the open right now.
So, then, how can I say this behavior opens the door for cheating? I will tell you.
If you are the person who is being ‘sold to,’ then it is very likely you will be bored and unfulfilled in your relationship over time. It may seem great to have someone who does everything you want to do, at first, but eventually you realize this person is just like a puppy dog who follows you around and bends to your every whim.
This can get frustrating, monotonous, and just generally lame. Again, while nobody should ever cheat, I have seen it cause people to look for challenges and fulfillment outside of their relationship.
If you are the person selling yourself, eventually you are going to feel undervalued and underappreciated, because if you give too much, the other person will just get used to receiving all the time. And, you likely will not stand up for yourself, so the pattern will continue.
You will feel as though you are more lonely than when you were single, and start looking for affection and validation elsewhere.
You never actually live a fulfilling life.
This took me a long time to understand, but it is perhaps one of the most important things we can internalize: You need to be able to live a full, happy life, regardless of your relationship status.
If you are always living your life on other people’s terms, then you are never going to figure out what it is that truly makes you happy and fulfilled. Do you remember being a kid and pretending like you couldn’t step on the floor because it was lava? So you would lay down couch cushions and jump from one to the other…
That’s essentially the same thing we are doing in our adult lives, but we are doing it with relationships. We think that singledom is some travesty that is going to burn us for life – so we just jump from relationship to relationship in order to avoid it.
The problem with that is, we never learn how to create our own happiness and stand on our own two feet. Being able to do this is absolutely essential to finding the right relationship and the right partner.
The concept of ‘you complete me’ is cute and romantic, but it’s not realistic. A relationship is not about two people who complete each other, it is about two people who are already complete, and fit into each other’s lives like puzzle pieces.
Have you ever tried to make a puzzle with pieces that have bits missing? There will always be holes and it will never form a full picture.
Be yourself, love yourself, and create yourself. The right person will love everything about you that the wrong people took for granted.