“I want the whole cake. That’s right, I want the whole damn thing. I’m tired of the crumbs and can no longer only allow myself to take small bites. So why is it that I keep gladly accepting the stale slices of love and affection when I know I deserve more?
Obviously this really has nothing to do with actual cake. I’m referring to relationships. Love, affection, attention—matters of the heart. Baffled is the only word I can think of to describe why I’ve spent so much of my life trying to move on from people who don’t appreciate me yet throw to the wayside the ones who do. To be naïve of these things in my younger days was one thing but the more conscious I’ve become of the self-destructive relationships I cling to seems to only make it more painful. It’s a deeper lonely, one that leaves me feeling vastly ashamed because I know it is self-created.”
This was written earlier last year from the heart as I struggled to understand the importance of setting boundaries. Unhealthy (romantic) relationships were something of the norm for me during my teens and early 20’s. Thankfully, I moved away from them but during this slightly tumultuous time I found myself slipping into old self-destructive habits.
The relationship that inspired the above was entered on the wrong terms—the mindset that even being with the wrong person was better than being alone. I was acting out of pure fear. Fears I thought I had pushed past already—of abandonment, of not being worthy enough to be loved properly. By letting my fear guide me I prevented myself from standing in my own power. I chose to mask my needs for the approval and acceptance of someone and it was digging me into a hole of misery.
The Problem: No Boundaries
One of the many problems with my situation was I had failed to set any boundaries from the get go. Though don’t get confused—a situation like this, where I clearly pushed past all the red flags waving franticly in front of my face, most likely couldn’t be saved by boundaries. However, if I had been clear from the get go on what I would and wouldn’t accept from a partner, this whole story wouldn’t probably exist.
Relationships without boundaries are a sticky situation. If you haven’t experienced it you’ve at least witnessed it. The girl or guy who jumps when their partner says, their lives cautiously planned around the other’s agenda. A friend who’s clearly settling for less than they’re worth, putting up with all sorts of shenanigans. Or, the worst (IMO), the entering or staying in a relationship to avoid loneliness.
Learn The Lesson
As someone once told me, lessons keep repeating themselves until you learn them. Not setting or creating unhealthy boundaries in relationships tends to be a chronic thing vs. a one-time situation—at least in my personal experience and observation of friends and family. Recognizing relationship patterns in your life, especially those that leave you stumped as to why they keep happening, is key to learning exactly where you may need to start setting boundaries in your life. Once you become aware it’s as if a little light goes off in your head each time something similar happens and you’re more in tune with the situation.
Find What Boundaries Mean To You
At the end of the day, setting boundaries really has a lot less to do with other people and a whole lot to do with yourself. You can’t change people and if you’re still trying to get others to adjust to your version of reality you’re fighting one hell of an uphill battle. Boundaries create the opportunity to acknowledge what it is we really want in our relationships.
Your needs and wants are important and they deserve to be met but I can personally tell you that will never happen if you display otherwise to the world. You have to say what you mean and mean what you say.
The positive thing about having gone through negative situations is that we can use what we learn we don’t want and channel that into creating a vision of what we do want. Setting boundaries means we show up for ourselves and stick to our word. As we understand what that means us individually we gain a sense of empowerment along with an increasing amount of self-love and respect.
There is no need to waste our precious life waiting on others to change or trying to change for someone else. Making our needs and wants a priority isn’t selfish, it’s a necessary step to creating the foundation of a healthy relationship.