Put the “rotten,” “no good” “jerk” in a box and seal him up for now. We know how he wronged you and what a miserable person he is. And we know you don’t deserve to be treated the way he treated you.
But let’s turn to YOU and find out who YOU are. He’s not perfect. But you’re not either. And sometimes, we forget to address the change that needs to occur within ourselves. Here’s a list of qualities that, if you have them or are prone to them, might need to be worked on BEFORE you can expect to meet someone healthy, loving and kind….
Lying– He lies, but you lie right back. Have you sunk to his level, or has he sunk to yours? If you’re prone to lying, YOU NEED TO STOP IMMEDIATELY. Lying is the act of putting distance between you and whomever you’re lying to. Not only that, but it’s an ugly quality. Honesty is scary, but it’s the mark of a deeply loving person. It says, I am willing to be honest with you because I am not afraid to expose my true self, and I have a great amount of respect for who you are.”
Cheating–You want a healthy, happy, passionate partner but you’re going outside of your marriage to find him (or her). What’s wrong with that picture? If you’re cheating, you will attract people who lack the value of honesty and loyalty. Right from the start, you’re compromising yourself. You must BE the loyal, devoted person you wish to find in the world. If you’re having trouble with your spouse of boyfriend, you need to work it out first, BEFORE seeking someone new. It’s like eating a huge ice cream sundae while you’re still working on your dinner. What’s the rush? Why be such a glutton. Finish your dinner first before heading over to get dessert.
Anger Issues—Anger is an important emotion. It tells you when something is seriously wrong, or that you are in pain or suffering. But anger, when directed at others, is hostile, irresponsible and destructive. At the relationship level, nothing positive is ever accomplished in anger. Angry people think they have a right to be angry. Sure, everyone has a right to feel anger. But no one has the right to direct it towards someone. If you are angry at your spouse, for example, because he does not treat with you respect or kindness, or he has cheated on you. You have a right to control your personal situation by leaving if it bothers you so much. But you do not have a right to scream and yell and disrespect someone. If you are a deeply angry person who carries a lot of anger within you, you need to get to the bottom of it and work it out. Your anger is barrier that will keep you from connecting to others in a more healthy way.
Blaming—It’s his fault I’m this way. It’s her fault I can express myself properly. It’s the company’s fault I didn’t get the promotion. The blame game is a pointless one. It removes any semblance of responsibility from you and puts it somewhere, safely outside yourself. It’s a childish act that keeps your ego intact and “pure” while pointing the finger at others to make them look bad. I didn’t know you had to do that. No one told me. Truth is, if you’re a blamer who won’t step up to the plate and own your actions and take responsibility for your own behavior, everyone can see it but you. If you are trying to forge a healthy relationship with someone, how can you bond with that person if you’re unwilling to take responsibility for your actions? Start owning up to stuff. Get in the habit of saying “It’s my fault.” It’s not as hard as you think.
Manipulating—Manipulation is one of the lowest forms of human interaction because it’s stealthy. It’s based on lies. I never understood manipulation until it was explained to me in detail, and so here it is for you: Your partner tells you he’s unhappy in the relationship and thinks it’s best to break up. You obviously don’t want to break up. But instead of vocalizing your sadness, or accepting that your partner has free will to leave, you suddenly fall very ill and the only thing that will help is if he stays the night. Manipulation. Or how about this one. You know how much he loves sex, so he offer to have sex with him if he’ll stay. Manipulation. You cry about your dead grandma and insist you need him by your side. Manipulation. Are you catching on? There’s only one direct route to stopping this kind of behavior and that’s recognizing that you’re doing it, recognizing your feelings in a certain situation and vocalizing them. Instead of using tactics to get him to stay, it’s your job (it’s your responsibility) to accept what he is saying and allow him to make his own choices. He’s a grown man. He knows what he wants. And you’re a grown woman. Sometimes relationships don’t work.
Gas Lighting—The textbook definition of gas lighting is “a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. For example, say you eat the last cookie in the cookie jar and someone sees you do this. If they approach you and say, “you just ate the last cookie!” and you deny it, your denying it is called gas lighting. Here’s another example. You get caught cheating on your partner. He has a firsthand account of the affair. Instead of fessing up, you deny it and say, “that never happened. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Gas lighting can make people go crazy and doubt their sanity. It is borderline evil in that the person doing the gas lighting is purposely avoiding to acknowledge a common reality. If you catch yourself doing this, stop. Gas lighting creates a very wide barrier for intimacy between you and everyone else.
Being Plain ‘ol Cruel—You get into a fight with your guy. You’re angry. He goes off to take a shower and you flush the toilet on him. Just plain ‘ol cruel. And childish. He pisses you off and says some off color remark; you hit him. Cruelty, violence, hatred begets cruelty, violence and hatred in a relationship. Unless you’re partner is against it, which in that case, he’ll/she’ll just leave you. How can you blame him? You’re operating on a really low budget. Being “the bitch” is a defense mechanism. It’s nothing to be proud of. It’s not funny. And you’re not “cool” because you’re setting him straight. A healthy relationship is not conducive to any of these things, especially violence. If you think you have a violent, cruel streak, it’s time to address it immediately. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect or abuse. And you certainly don’t need to be a prisoner of your own bad behavior.
Using Someone—You wouldn’t like being used, so don’t do it to other people. Plain and simple. If you don’t like a person enough to be totally committed to them, but you love their status or how good they are in bed, this is abusive.
Communicating Poorly—Communication is the essence of who we are. Are you quiet, shy, soft-spoken, a good listener? Or are you loud, boisterous, outspoken and chatty? How do you speak? Do you curse like a sailor, speak Queen’s English, or somewhere in between? When you get angry do you yell and scream, or do you stuff it inside and refuse to talk? Do you call your partners names when you’re angry? DO you degrade him or her verbally? Are you verbally abusive? Do you listen? No, I mean, do you REALLY listen? These are all things you need to learn about yourself, because the way you communicate sets the stage for who’s interested in you and who’s not. It defines you. And it makes life easy for you or a living hell. If you find yourself frustrated, hurt or angry after conversations with friends or loved ones, if you feel as though you are not being heard, or getting what you want—it may be the way you are communicating. My suggestion: everyone reading this should buy a book on honing your people skills, even if you think you’re the greatest orator since Winston Churchill. What could it hurt? Chances are you will benefit.
Excessive neediness/dependent—Nothing says I’m not ready for a healthy relationship more than dependence on others. Relationships are not based on two halves seeking to become whole. Good relationships are based on two whole, complete people able to take care of themselves, who come together not out of necessity, but out of desire. When you need someone to take care of you the lines of love blur. Need is the higher goal, not love, and when that’s the case, everything else from love to all your core values (like being treated with respect, not being neglected, etc.), are shoved aside. When you need someone, they can abuse you, neglect you or avoid and you’ll stay. Why? Because your need to be dependent on this person is taken care of and so you lose sight of upholding your other values. Neediness is a trap. It can imprison you. When you become dependent on someone else, they are in control of your life. The goal of recovery is to become as independent as possible so that when you enter into a relationship you are able to sustain yourself if the relationship fails. You are also able to depend more on yourself for entertainment, finances, career, alone-time and general living. The more independent you are, the more desirable you become as a person.
Avoidant/Self-Centered– Is it all about you? Are your needs far more important than anyone else’s? If there’s an egocentric streak inside you because you simply don’t get enough attention as it is, this could be a big problem. It’s NOT all about you, so grow up. You are one among 6,775,235,700 people who share this planet and it’s time to stop focusing on getting your needs met every second of the day. Interestingly, in recovery, that’s all we advise people to do: focus on yourself. But that’s because Addicts never grew up. They were never able to grow through and experience the more selfish phases of their life, childhood through teenage years, when it’s acceptable to be egocentric. Recovery is a time to be selfish, to focus inward and to find out who you are. But when you are ready to date, and share your life with someone else, you learn that part of growing up means letting go of purely selfish behavior. You learn that being in a committed relationship means getting most, if not all of your needs and values met, but it does not mean that you get all of your desires met. Learn the balance. And make sure you recognize the difference. Because the opposite can happen: if you ‘re not getting your needs and values met, that’s not a healthy relationship. Then you stand to lose your identity.
Addicted/No identity– This is obviously the opposite of above. If you’re not getting most if not all of your CORE VALUES and needs met in a relationship, you are, plain and simple, giving up your identity, the very person you are. Read more about holding onto and maintaining values here.
Stonewalling– Stonewalling is a form of communication where you choose not to communicate verbally. It is the act of shutting down almost completely and not speaking to your partner, usually during a crisis or argument. It is meant to delay or avoid communication or it is used as a tactic to refuse to cooperate or come to an agreement. When you stonewall, or deliberately refuse to communicate with your partner, you essentially reject them and isolate yourself. This is how marriages fail. This is how friendships dissolve. And this is how individuals who do not know how to diplomatically manage relationships handle a situation. It’s dysfunctional and does not lead to intimacy.
I want to mention here that many times we find ourselves in relationships we really don’t want to be in but don’t know how to get out of. Many times we cannot leave a bad relationship because of our dependence or addiction to it. And so, we turn to faulty behavior like stonewalling to resolve crisis. We do this because, 1.) we do not love or have the best interest of this person in mind, or 2.) we do love this person (despite our incompatibility with them), and act out of anger or immature tactics because we never learned a better, more effective way to communicate. Ask yourself where you stand. Aside from your partner, how do you behave around others? Do you have many close, intimate relationships with friends and family that are solidly built on trust, respect and love? Or do you have trouble bonding with almost everyone? Are most of your relationships marked with hostility and frustration? Remember, communication and the way YOU behave in a relationship is JUST as important as it is in finding the right partner. In fact, it’s essential. Water seeks its own level. Be the person you wish to find in another.