Do you feel that you have control over your life, but you are always getting stepped on? You go out of your way to show love, devotion, and perform grand gestures in hopes that they will be reciprocated. Instead, they turn out to be expectations. It stings the most when it’s a lover. But often those who are taken advantage of by romantic partners suffer at the hands of bosses, professors, friends and family too. If you’re never appreciated, or taken for granted more often than not, read on and you’ll know how to change it all around, and put some new direction in your life.
First, evaluate what you do for your lover and what they do for you. Writing two lists might make sense. Compare. Are you actually being taken advantage of? If your column takes up two pages with footnotes and addendums whilst theirs is barely two lines long, your lover has some explaining to do. Don’t get heated though. Instead, start to take a look at the patterns you take part in, in life. Do you get taken advantage of often, and by whom?
A lot of people are people-pleasers, so don’t feel bad. These people gain self-esteem from the gratitude of others. When they bestow their gratitude you get a bump. The problem is this person doesn’t often voice their own needs, wants and desires. No where do they feel more awkward at voicing their needs than with their partner. They secretly believe their own needs aren’t as worthy as others. But they are. So sit down with your partner and discuss how you feel with them. Tell them how hard you work on your grand gestures and how disappointed you are when they don’t reciprocate. Understand that they will be defensive. Don’t point the finger at them, or make them feel guilty. Just tell them how you feel and ask how they feel about that.
Approach it as a problem and invite them in. Have solutions outlined already. If your lover is resistant perhaps they aren’t in it for you, just for what you do for them. Assert yourself with your friends and at work too. Ask for what you want. Don’t overcompensate for past behavior. Be reasonable and ask in the right manner. But don’t back down. They may try to scare you off, but stand your ground. When you stick up for yourself others recognize it and you get respect. For more advice read the New York Times bestseller, The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D.