It is commonly said that relationships should be 50/50, two people coming together and making a whole. What we sometimes need to clarify though is that people should feel ‘whole’ within themselves before entering a partnership.
Codependents often lack self love and have low self esteem, and searching for a relationship before doing the necessary work to heal, can be a recipe for disaster. If you are seeking validation and love from the outside you are giving all of your power away. Narcissists or other manipulative individuals can sense low self esteem and are quite happy to take advantage of it. In the beginning they will validate you, place you on a pedastal and make you feel complete in a way that you never have before. After reaching dizzying heights in the initial stages, this will soon come to an end. You will then be left feeling desolate because the person who once seemed to adore you now looks at you with disdain, criticises you, and lets you know that you always miss the mark. This is why it is important to know your value and to love yourself before being in a relationship.
Anyone can fall in love and put their better judgement aside in the early stages, however, when bad behaviour becomes more frequent and red flags begin popping up, this is the point when we should be able to take a step back and realise that something is amiss. Often when abuse or manipulative and toxic behaviour begins to creep into a relationship and goes ignored, it is because this behaviour is similar to behaviour that we witnessed in childhood. For example if you had a narcissistic parent, a partner who displayed similar traits would feel familiar to you. You would not be turned off as much as someone who had not witnessed that behaviour before.
Which leads me back to the title that “You are 50% of every relationship that you have in your life”. This must be remembered because when we notice toxic behaviour and remain in the relationship, this is a choice and one that cannot be ignored. If it goes ignored then it will be repeated. Once you settle into a relationship and there are more joint responsibilities, children, or assets it is harder to leave, but honestly ask yourself if there were red flags and warning signs before you even got that far.
Your partners behaviour may be truly unacceptable, I am not disputing that. However if you only focus on the others persons bad behaviour you miss the chance to learn a lesson for yourself. There is no power in being a victim, only in doing the work. Below I have listed some questions that it may be helpful to ask yourself:
- Did you ignore any red flags?
- Did you listen to your gut feelings?
- What initially attracted you to this person?
- Do you honestly feel heard, seen, loved, appreciated?
- When you are annoyed about something do you express it or do you expect your partner to guess?
- Are you passive aggressive with your partner?
- Is there anyone from your past that your partners behaviour reminds you of?
- Do you feel trapped?
- Do you have boundaries in your relationship or have they been trampled on, or were they non-existent anyway?
It is worth taking the time to ask yourself all of these questions if you find that you are in a relationship that has taken a turn for the worst, or that you do not want to be in. These questions allow you to become present and evaluate. It is easy to become disgruntled and either think about or talk about all of the horrible things that our partner has done, but it also has to be accepted that you have allowed it.
Another great question to ask yourself is, would you have stayed with your partner if they had displayed their current behaviour in the first month of knowing them? If the answer is a resounding no, then you know that the person you were before this relationship would not have put up with this. Which means that overtime you have changed your standards for what you deem to be acceptable. It is not always possible to leave a relationship quickly due to different circumstances, or if there are children involved, but the first step is to be aware of what is really taking place.
If you begin to take some of your power back and control the only person that you can in this life, yourself, then things will begin to fall into place. Of course if a relationship is abusive then you need to leave as soon as possible, but if you are not under threat and you would like to work on things, the only person you can work on is yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts.