Do you wonder sometimes if you are settling in your relationship? Do you pick people who have a whole lot of issues thinking that maybe you can ‘fix’ them? Perhaps you tend to be attracted to people with problems, “bad boys”, or just non-committal types? Or maybe you just don’t think you can do any better and you date anyone who is attracted to you regardless of issues?
Picking the Best Strawberry
Picking a mate is a lot like picking a strawberry out of the container – or it should be. When you open the pint of strawberries, do you go for the one with fungus on it? The one that is squished in the corner and severely bruised? Or perhaps the one that is completely under-ripe? No, you don’t. Why? Because there are other ripe, delicious strawberries in the container. And why would you force yourself to eat a strawberry with fungus on it when you can have that wonderful ripe one? I hope you see where I’m going here. Why do we pick people with a slew of issues that are so obvious, when we could have someone who has their shit together already and will be a wonderful mate? Stop picking the yucky strawberries!
Worthy of the Best
Why do we do this though? Why do we overlook the good people and pick the ones with problems? It’s all because of our own feelings of self-worth and self-love. If we don’t feel worthy of better, we are willing to take less, because we think it’s the best we can do. We tolerate and overlook so much in unhealthy relationships because we deeply believe we can’t do better, and that we are probably lucky just to have a relationship. I know because I’ve been there, in a very unhealthy relationship. You sometimes also get to the point of feeling you are “in too deep” at this point and can’t get out, whether it’s marriage, kids, property, finances – you feel tied to the other person in ways that feel inescapable.
When I was first married (and let me tell you that I knew on the day that I got married that I was making a mistake), I felt so trapped. He was controlling and manipulative. I was verbally beaten down and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. I really thought this was the best I could do, too. And the further the marriage went along (buying cars, homes, dogs, etc.), the more trapped I felt.
I was pretty hopeless and sad most of the time. But after a period of years (I was married 8 years), I started to rebel against him more and more. I started to see that I wasn’t meant to live a life of misery, and maybe it was worth fighting for a better life. At first that meant a lot more fights with him, but finally, I decided it was worth making a mess of my life for a bit to get out of it. And it was truly a mess.
It took several years to get through the divorce, selling our home, dividing the finances, and of course dealing with his angry phone calls and emails. But in hindsight, it was SO worth it! I made the right decision. I even wish my ex well on his journey ahead. The whole experience made me stronger and I’ve learned from it.
Escaping the Rotten Strawberry
Let me tell you that nothing is inescapable. When you realize you have chosen a ‘rotten strawberry’ and you need to get out, that’s an amazing step toward self-love, and you CAN do it! It may be that you will also have to make big changes, deal with overwhelming obstacles, or just go through struggles to get where you need to be. But if you are even thinking about it, you are moving toward stronger self-love. When your self-love or self-worth begins to get stronger, you will see everything in your life with new eyes, which often means you need to make changes. Relationships are just one aspect of this, but it’s often a huge one for us. And if you can make the leap and make changes, you will bring better things (and people) into your life.
I personally think the key is to also take some time between relationships, and to gain some clarity on things. I have always found that time and space give me room to grow and to see the errors I’ve made. We need to stop blaming the other person and start to own up to the fact that we not only welcomed that person into our lives, but stayed with them for whatever duration, and allowed them to mistreat us in whatever ways they did. We CHOSE it. Don’t go into victim mode. Yes, there may have been bad things that happened, but if you stayed, it was your choice. So, own up to that, and decide that it’s time to choose differently for yourself. To choose better! To respect yourself enough to only invite unconditional love and the wonderful relationship you deserve into your life.
Digging Deeper into Self-Love
I wanted to give you some food for thought here on your relationships. These are all signs of lower self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. These are things you need to notice. Because it’s important to recognize it, and stop blaming everything and everyone around you. It’s all about you and what you allow in your life. Your feelings about yourself and your life are affecting your choices. It’s time to decide that you deserve better. And it’s also time to stop looking outside yourself for love. When you find it within yourself you won’t need that constant validation from others anymore. So think about these questions:
- Did you know in your gut that dating your current or past partners was a bad decision, or have you felt this along the way with things that happened – but you ignored the feelings?
- Do you feel like you are stuck in your relationship? Like you are a victim of your partner? Or that you just can’t get out of your current situation?
- Do you jump from one relationship to the next? Trying to avoid that lonely feeling? Do you need to be in a relationship to validate that you are loved and even lovable?
- Are you feeling disconnected or even lonely in your current relationship? Are you trying to make something work that no longer works, or you have outgrown (with increasing self-love)?
- Do you know in your gut that you are in an unhealthy relationship you need to get out of, but feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing so?
- Have you taken a close look at the people/relationships you choose and noticed any patterns or underlying issues that you need to change or explore further within yourself?
- Do you spend time alone? If so, why not? If you can enjoy time alone, you are on the right track toward self-love. This is a huge first step. Whether you are cooking, meditating, walking, painting, or riding a bike – if you can do it alone and enjoy the time, that is a really big step. It’s a sign that you love spending time with YOU, and that’s self-love. If you enjoy time with yourself, then you value yourself. And that’s a big step toward feeling that your time is valuable, and only worthy of a great partner – because you would be happier alone than with a bad one.
Noticing, Changing, Loving Yourself
I would hope this brings you some food for thought. A chance to observe yourself and your relationships (past and present). To really notice your thoughts, your choices, your gut feelings, and your own feelings of self-worth. While self-love and self-worth affects every area of our lives, I find that it’s often most obvious in our relationships. Our choices in partners (and how they treat us) tends to reflect back to us how much we value ourselves. (Of note, this is often true in our friendships as well.) So take notice, and start to take steps toward making any needed changes in your life around your relationships. Just make sure to give yourself love through it all.
A book you might enjoy is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
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