Most people don’t realize this but a relationship, even when it’s with family, is a lot like a business arrangement. Even one with your best friend. They get the privilege of telling you all their problems and in exchange you can tell them all of yours and they will ALWAYS be on your side, no matter how wrong you are.
Or perhaps you have an agreement with a fellow parent at your kid’s school where if you have an emergency, she will pick up your kid or vice versa. Those arrangements are normal, healthy, and functional. In the business world, we call that a trade (in business it’s still taxable, by the way).
But what happens when it’s one sided? As in you call your friend and she spends 20 minutes telling you about her problems and when you take a breath to start about yours, she says, “oh, sorry, got to go!” or you always pick up her kids but she never picks up yours even when you are in the hospital.
I bet if you are still reading this you stayed friends with someone even after they did as described above and you still listen to their problems, maybe even have their kids in your car right now.
Why do we stay in one-sided relationships?
Most likely, childhood wounding and training you received from your family of origin.
Raise your hand if you know you were raised by at least one, possibly two narcissists? I intuitively see a lot of hands out there.
To a narcissist you are just a cast member or character in their play with a very distinct and defined role. Mom may see you as the person who takes care of all her problems. Dad might see you as his little confidant and friend without regard to what you want or need.
And for that to work you need to be trained at a very young age that your needs aren’t as important as someone else’s, that your main role is what you can do for someone else.
In fact, if this is you, likely you were taught that you were lucky to get their attention at all and as a result you traded your time and obedience to their needs for a few words of praise and the occasional token of love. And if you refused to do what they wanted then love was withdrawn. Which my friend, is why saying “No” is so hard now, you fear on some level losing that affection and trading your time, energy, and emotional attention for a few “You are the greatest” and the very occasional support or kind word seems fair.
But that seems unfair!
You betcha, it is, but when that training starts young then it’s a hard one to let go of. But for the sake of your self-esteem you must start right now by fixing the imbalance. Here’s how:
-Identify who in your life takes advantage of you. You already have a name in your head, I know it.
-Figure out how to balance the scales. Do you need to pull back and do less? Do you need to be too “busy” to help them? Is there an email or text you need to send right now setting a boundary?
But, Jill, if I do that, they won’t be my friend anymore.
You betcha again: And that’s not really a bad thing. I know it stings at first because it feels like you are being rejected but creating healthy give-and-take relationships is an important part of love and connecting with others.
Yes, others may get mad at you when you set a boundary but at the end of the day, this old dynamic doesn’t work well and isn’t healthy for either of you. Relationships need to be equal and both parties need to respect that.
Working on creating balance in relationships is one of the healthiest and more important things you can do in your life, and demanding equality in relationships will make your life better in all areas.
Trust me on this, you are worth the extra work and remember …
You are loved.
Jill K Thomas CHT
Soul Connect Hypnotherapy
Author of the books “Tales from the Trance” & “Feed your Real Hunger”
Appointments available Globally by Video Chat