Recently, I’ve had some close friends who have struggled in negative relationships that have made them question their self-worth and lower their standards and expectations. To this I say, STOP! Stop doing this to yourself.
It saddens me that these beautiful, smart, inspiring women that I have the privilege to interact with feel they must accept poor behavior and mediocre treatment simply because they desire love and companionship. I too desire these things. As a 28 year old single female living in Utah, you better believe I very much desire these things. You could say it’s the greatest desire of my heart. But I have learned, very much the hard way, that such a good desire can blind us to some very bad things. Things that perhaps our close friends and family can see because they are emotionally removed from the situation that we simply choose to ignore in the name of love. Things that will not lead to that happiness we envision, but instead, find us curled up in our bed crying and praying, “Please God, why won’t this just work out?” Love is blind. So perhaps find yourself some trusted friends and family with the eyes to see what you refuse to.
It’s the Dumb girl (or guy... it slices both ways!) disease. We’ve all been that dumb girl or guy. Glance back at your life and pick out that time or two (or three) where now, because you can look back and see how you’ve progressed and grown and hopefully learned what a wonderful person you truly are, wonder why you ever wasted your time with a relationship and situation that only ever brought you personal pain and heartbreak. The scales of love-blindess will fall from your eyes and instead of begging God for "things to work out", you thank him for not letting you continue in a situation that would have never lead to any sort of happiness. Or, perhaps examine a relationship you are in now; what is your ratio of happiness to negativity? Are they even? Is one far outweighing the other? And for heavens sake, how long has it been this way? Of the 6 months you’ve been dating, have 5 of those months only ever been drama, negativity, tears, and confusion? And yet, all we can think of and all we remember is that one month where things were really great. Or, perhaps, we keep hoping for the tomorrow’s that continue to never come. You can’t change him. You can't change her. Only he can change him. And why would anyone have an impetus to change if their bad behavior is constantly reaffirmed by you, dumb girl or guy, that continues to lower your standards and self-worth simply to be around this person.
Self-reflect. When you are around them, how do you feel about yourself? Does she make you feel like a hero? Does he make you feel like the most beautiful, interesting woman in the world? Are all those good things about you amplified? Do you have a desire to progress and be your best self? Note - this is different than feeling guilt and shame of changing your wonderful you to be the person they want you to be - rather - it is a healthy confidence and desire for doing good things that should make you feel uplifted and able - not down-trodden and unsatisfactory.
Some might say, “Well, not all things are roses. There are always hard times.” And we are all realistic enough to understand that in every relationship , there will be challenges. However, I submit to you that I know some very smart women who make some really dumb decisions in the name of “well, every relationship faces challenges.” To me, challenges are my husband losing his job and though he is working hard to find another one, things are going to be very tight for awhile and we will make it through. Challenges to me are caring for a sick or disabled child, together, as companions. Challenges to me are learning to share your life with another person and understanding that there must be MUTUAL sacrifice and patience if you are going to make it through. Challenges to me are facing rough patches in a very long road of happiness shared together. Challenges are allowing each other to have bad days, of getting over your OCD tendencies and just accepting he has no concept of "put your nasty socks in the hamper", or her chronic lateness. Challenges are pit stops, not the entire journey. To me, challenges come and go but your overall love and respect for each other won’t diminish and in fact, should continue to grow. Disrespect, verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, and selfishness are NOT challenges. These things demean, diminish, and disrupt the goodness that companionship is intended to bring. To me, companionship isn’t the key to happiness, it is the key to an enriched life. A life already being lived. A relationship to add to your already existing happiness and elevate your life to something more fully lived. If a relationship is not more enriching than it is “challenging”, particularly in the first few months of dating, I submit to you that perhaps you should rethink that relationship before it’s too late. Before you are so blinded for your good desire for lovely things, that you continually dress the wolf in sheep’s clothing yourself. The wolf that everyone else can see is dragging you away from the happy, active, wonderful person you once were.
I also want to shout from the rooftops to all the women (and men too!) that I know: YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT! You are WORTH dates. You are worth forethought and planning. You are WORTH your doors being opened and you are WORTH physical boundaries and limits. Guys you are WORTH honesty. You are WORTH respect. You are WORTH time and energy and trust in the good you and potential you have. You are worth fidelity. You are worth loyalty. You are worth commitment and you are worth his/her undivided attention. You are worth someone being fully invested.
Ladies and gentleman, your time, your life, your interests, and what you do ARE important and YOU are worth seeking after. Someone who doesn’t believe that isn’t the someone for you. And though it is always easier said than done to let go, not necessarily of the individual, but the perceived chance at companionship, your individual worth and ultimate happiness is far too high a price to get “sorta” what you want now instead of having patience for a little while longer and getting what you truly deserve later.
Ladies particularly, truly, you deserve it all. Stop selling yourself short and believe it. Become the good woman that the good man you deserve will seek out. And good men WILL seek you out if you are being your best you while still accepting that we are all a work in progress. So stop wasting your time with the ones who don’t see your worth and prepare yourself for the one that ultimately will.
As for myself, I would truly live a happier life as a single person (gasp! The horror! The horror!) then locked into a life-long unhappiness with someone who I’m constantly having to prove that I’m worth more than what he sees. If you have to constantly remind him (or her) you are worth it - then he's DEFINITELY not worth it and its time to start setting your sights for what is right instead of what is available at the moment.