Do You Feel Lost Without A Relationship?
BY LIZ SEITZ
Our ability to connect intimately with others is what makes us human. Several years ago, Dr. Joyce Brothers published an article touting the benefits of "a good love life."
The three main benefits Dr. Brothers listed were:
- You have better odds for living longer healthier lives
- You have better immunity for warding off colds and infections
- You have a better outlook in general.
She goes on to remind us of the importance of romance and really paying attention to each other’s needs and feelings. So, she didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. She simply confirmed that people are relational beings and we’re better off together than alone. One thing Dr. Brothers didn’t highlight is that in spite of both genders’ need for intimacy and connection, women more than men tend to use relationships as a measure of their self worth.
In the 1830’s, Lord Byron wrote, “For men, love is a thing apart, for women it is their whole existence.” Sadly, this is still true for many women today. Even though we have made significant progress, we still rely too heavily on others for our sense of self and in doing so, give all our power away.
Because we feel validated through our relationships, we let other people, decide how we’re going to feel about ourselves. Often we do so without question. We don’t stop to consider if they’re worthy of holding that much power over our self-perception. Does anyone deserve that amount of influence in your life? Now, there’s nothing wrong with desiring a healthy relationship and reaping the benefits of positive connections. However, if any relationship determines your self-worth and value in the world or controls your emotions, it’s a problem. While we are all affected by painful relationships and loss, we risk emotional safety when we become too dependent on others. The result is usually that we feel worthless, desperate, and destroyed without them.
Your significant relationship should not prove your worth, but it should accurately mirror what you see and know to be true. The bottom line is this: Women who respect themselves, know, and like who they are choose healthier intimate partners. So, the best defense against an unhealthy relationship is to work on yourself. I know this is not a very popular idea, but it’s the truth. When we know ourselves, we understand our inherent value and are less likely to engage in risky relationships.
If we bring a healthy self along with our hopes, dreams, and goals to a relationship, then the other person can be a source of comfort and strength in weaker moments. All of us have times when we doubt ourselves or have a bad day. These are fleeting lapses in self-confidence when your partner can love, support, and encourage you and you can do the same for him or her. But, if we’re bringing nothing but neediness to the relationship, then we’ll drain the emotional energy out of it and cause resentment and heartache. You’ll feel deprived and abandoned when you don’t get the love and attention you crave and your partner will lose respect when he or she realizes how much power they hold. Eventually your partner will feel frustrated and overburdened. He or she may grow weary of carrying the responsibility for your happiness. It’s a lose, lose situation. When it comes to dating, be a chooser, not a beggar. I’m not suggesting you restrict yourself to an uncompromising set of standards. Perfection doesn’t exist in any relationship, but know yourself, decide what you want, and then find it.
A woman often has a sixth sense about what a partner is seeking from a relationship. She may then work hard to obtain and maintain his affections, but never ask if he is truly right for her. Does he have what she needs from a partner? Instead of discovering her own answers, she may convince herself that he is the only one for her. She may begin prioritizing the needs of her partner over her own: A true recipe for relationship disaster.
Another danger of low self-esteem is it locks people in bad relationships. They come to accept poor behavior as a substitute for meaningful connections and eventually compromise their personal values. Accepting too much or not receiving enough from your partner is not healthy for you or the relationship. What's worse is, over time, we teach people how to treat us. If we continually remain silent about unacceptable behaviors, we essentially reinforce the very behaviors we don’t want. Self-worth and self-confidence don’t come from snagging another partner. They both develop as you face your fears, own your insecurities, and work to overcome them. In the end, you will have a more accurate perspective of your self and the value you bring to the world.
Instead of running from your insecurities or hiding from them, embrace your autonomy. Get out there! Discover who you are; feel your feelings, even the painful ones, and learn healthy self-care so you won’t be as likely to settle for less than you deserve. Relationships need to be based on give and take. When two people share and grow alongside each other, both can find the relationship enriching rather than a matter of survival.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.lizseitz.com