We don’t start out co-dependent. It isn’t a natural trait. It is something we learn, and that is modeled to us. It is a way we learn to survive and cope sometimes too. “The Codependent has adapted their behaviour in order to get their needs met in a setting where someone they cared about was unable or unwilling to take care of themselves and their own problems. After progressively taking on the care taking role the Codependent somehow forgets to look after their own needs and deal with their own problems. As a result even if they physically break free from the person who is dependent on them they take their Codependency forward into future relationships.” – Basics of Codependency
I started dating when I was 13. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had good filters back then. I would begin dating someone, and fairly quickly, know that I did not feel like it was the right relationship. I would feel icky when I was with them. And so I would end the relationship. Often, the man would hang on, or hang around. I would begin to feel guilty. Who was I to hurt this man? or the next? or the next? I dated many men for short periods of time.
Obviously something was wrong with me. I was not good at commitment. My standards were too high. I was judgmental. I needed to be more accepting, tolerant and open to love.
It did not occur to me that I was exercising good judgement. That I was respecting myself.
““There’s a side of him that’s so loving and caring. When he hugs me and doesn’t let go, and how we laugh…we’re so good together! And then, sometimes, he acts so strangely. He withdraws. Then he’s back…I don’t know what to do.”
We give so many chances to people who aren’t worthy of it.
We overlook problems and let things slide.
We make excuses for non-excusable behaviors.
We give a lot of bad things a pass because of the apparent good ones.
Because someone has a kind and affectionate side, too?
Because they tell you nice things and sometimes make you feel special?
We miss seeing the forest for the trees.
If a person has a loving side but also a jackass side, it should be a huge red flag for you. Their inconsistency should sound a massive alarm.
When dating someone, look at the bigger picture. You need to see the good and the bad—the complete deal you’re getting. Before that, decide what part of the deal is unacceptable to you and you won’t turn your head away from.
Not calling you, treating you with disrespect or neglecting you should definitely be on that list.” – Elephant Journal
Instead, I learned to accept being treated disrespectfully by people, and to find ways to explain away their behaviour. I was proud of how tolerant and loving and accepting I had become. It was a sign of spiritual growth, wasn’t it?
And so, in three significant relationships, I allowed myself to be treated disrespectfully, felt the pain, and added to it by judging myself for not doing a better job at accepting him.
That is not to say that any of those men were bad people, or that I blame them. Only I can be responsible for my boundaries. Only I can be responsible for how I allow others to treat me, and how I respond in a relationship where my needs, wishes, and value are not respected. I know that each man might find a partner who does not find those behaviours that were problems for me to be concerning in a different relationship.
What are my boundaries in relationship? I find myself echoing the same ones in the article.
I never play games
I am done with playing games, calculating who called who first, how many times, playing hot and cold, he wants me but he’s making me wait, he’s cool, one day he’s “all in” and the next one “out”…
I will not show interest in any man who doesn’t show genuine interest in me.
The moment I recognize he’s playing games, he’s out.
I will be treated with respect
I want a man who proves that he respects me as a person and as a woman. He respects my feelings and my needs. He listens and treats me with respect. Not only that; he also respects his word. He respects our agreements and values our time together. When he says he’ll be there, he’s there. Any sign of disrespect makes me nip the relationship in the bud.
I have zero tolerance for Casanova behavior or me being “the other woman.”
No, no, no and no. I will not look at you ogling other women, flirting on every corner, or having 30 different female friends who are all your “super-close friends” (but whose names you barely remember) and with whom you’re very physical, touchy and tender.
Yes, I want you to treat other women with respect too—but not with an “I’d like to bang you” respect. There’s a clear difference between the two, and we women see it.
Oh, and yes—you already have someone? It’s complicated? Please, throw my number away.”
I am incredibly valuable. More importantly: my life is full and rich. If you do not add to my life, I don’t need you. I will not be in a relationship out of need. I do not need you to complete me. I have in my life only those who I want.
My Value Is Not In My Body
To you I sway like sweet waves of honey,and though the way my hips move to unheard music has you hypnotized,there’s more to me than curves to trace with your hands.
My value isn’t in the skin underneath your fingertips as you reach out to touch what tempts you.
Lingering there will not collect my worth, and you cannot kiss me enough to make it known to me.
I do not find value in your arms,
but my space in your bed is not my worth.
Nor is my space in your heart.
Love me for my body
and the way it fits in the grooves of yours and the way we glide together into each parcel of space.
Love me for the familiar scent of my
skin when you
close in on my neck.
Love me for the heart that
is pressed to yours
and the love you know it has for you—
not because I have told you
but from the undeniable richness of
our colliding energy,
the way your bones know the elixir
of their own marrow.
Love that it is safe here
and our unwavering honesty—
never has anything we cannot see
been so true.
Love me for the way I tease your mind
with my thoughts,
and how our dueling perspectives
amplify our senses.
But know that no amount of
attraction will detail my worth.
That while you place value on me,
and I on you
this love is not an exchange.
I do not give you my body,
touch my lips to yours,
feel my bones quake
because to be held by you
makes me worth something.
is flattering and
but I am not validated by it.
I am worth just as much with any of that as with nothing at all;
is in my Self
and the purity of my being alive at all—just as yours
should be to you.
- poem by Tiffany Anderson on Elephant Journal