If you have to convince someone to like what you like about yourself and to notice what makes you special, then they are not your person. Run a mile, or many miles, in the opposite direction. Like so many of my clients, and perhaps like many of you, I struggled in past relationships with being valued for my strengths. I had this weird disconnect between the worth I had in myself, and what I settled for from others. It’s like I had to dumb myself down to make them feel good about themselves. For me to have the relationship I wanted, I believed I had to make that happen. By proving my worth or convincing the person I was with to really see me and our relationship as valuable. Just typing that out makes my stomach turn, but the reality is that so many of us do this without even realizing. These beliefs and lack of boundaries are so nuanced that when they play out we don’t see them for what they are - inappropriate and self defeating.
I had an ex boyfriend who refused to laugh at my jokes or acknowledge my sense of humor. There were so many issues in that relationship in hindsight of course, but during that time of being clouded by my lack of boundaries, that was one issue of which I was clearly aware. He would put me down instead of build me up. He required nurturing and attention from me, all the while he got to tell me what was wrong with me. I would find myself saying things like “you don't understand, there are so many people out there who think I’m amazing and funny and would love to date me.”
I was angry with him and myself for this issue. I knew I was special, but instead of listening to what I was saying and thinking, I instead worked extra hard to try and drill my special'ness into his head. That should have been all I needed to decide to end the relationship but, like most of you, I stayed. For MUCH longer than necessary. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self:
“Listen to yourself little Kimmy. You are saying all the right things! If you really listened to yourself you would hear that you are saying that you are undervalued and minimized, but you are not listening to yourself. You are not hearing your own words.When you say to him “why don't you think I am funny, so many people think I am amazing and want to date me” what you are really saying is that he does not appreciate you or deserve you. Now that you know this, you can’t avoid it out of fear, guilt or obligation. You need to stand up for yourself and put your needs first. He does not value your unique special'ness and it DOES NOT MATTER WHY. What matters is that he doesn't. Plain and simple. So, now do what you need to do, and leave. End it.”
The problem when we do not take ourselves seriously or we do not acknowledge our issues seriously, on our own, is that we defer to the person we are with to fix the problem. Yes it would have been great if he could come around and love and treat me the way I needed to be treated. But life does not work that way. It's our responsibility as mature independent adults to acknowledge our issues and validate them with addressing them head on and developing a plan for correction. Had I honored the issues about him putting down my sense of humor etc, I would have been able to uncover the hoarded mess of issues for which I was avoiding or making excuses. I did not do this until years later. Even then, I did not have the right information or guides to point me in the right direction. I put the puzzle pieces together on my own. Too many of us have to do this, and its not necessary. There is an easier way. If we start a new conversation and take the shame out of our experiences, we can see things more objectively. Let me help you complete the puzzle sooner, with more ease. This includes everything that selfishladies is all about: boundaries, self compassion and confidence. Stop internalizing and start seeing things for what they are, rather than a reflection of you or your self worth.
If you are dating someone who does not like the things you like about yourself; someone who does not recognize your uniqueness and build you up, then you are not in a compatible relationship. You are not the problem, the relationship is. You have not failed, the relationship has run its course. Do not enable this dynamic by taking personally their lack of attention and blame yourself for it. This is not an invitation for you to work harder at making them see you and notice you. Bring it to their attention and see what they think and if they make any changes. If it's short lived and the undesired behavior persists, then leave. Believe in the very special'ness that you want them to believe in, and honor that about yourself and trust that those qualities will get you through the breakup and clear the way for you to enter a new and healthy relationship. Their inappropriate behavior is NOT a reflection of your worth, or your worthiness for respect or affection. You are worth it. Period. So instead of internalizing their behavior, rather empower yourself to see them for who they are, wish them well, and move on.