You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for love.
She came alone into my bridal salon, seemingly very rushed to try on a particular wedding gown and to place her order. I noticed how unhappy and tense she was and convinced her to take a deep breath and spend a little time with me for a brief “consultation.”
I knew the style she wanted was totally wrong for her slim figure and wished to help her make a better choice. She agreed, all the while nervously looking at her watch. I could clearly see that she was miserable.
Purchasing a bridal gown and planning a wedding is supposed to be fun, I told her. Why was she not enjoying the process? A kind word is all she needed, and she broke down and cried.
This is Caroline’s story: The man she was marrying was extremely wealthy and also very demanding. He was the one who had picked out the dress and made sure that she not “waste” her time trying on anything else.
This is what he wanted her to wear. He gave her only thirty minutes to purchase the dress and then get back to her house. He had her cell phone and her every move monitored and knew exactly where she was at any given time.
I thought to myself, “This is crazy.” The woman could have any man she wanted. She was an accomplished yoga teacher and extremely beautiful, intelligent, and personable. Surely she saw what she was getting herself into?
Caroline’s story is a classic example of women settling in a relationship that restrict and impair those who are willing to follow the rules set by their partners and have no voice of their own.
They give up their love, their passions, their friendships, and their lives for their partner. They fail to recognize the red flags that so blatantly stare them in the face.
A healthy relationship is supposed to add freedom and life to our existence. It is not meant to diminish us so that someone else can be made to feel better. It’s important to own your own power, have healthy beliefs, and speak your truth about yourself and your life to allow soulmate love to become your destiny. Giving up your identity for someone ultimately chips away at your self-worth and diminishes your self-respect.
You are worthy of love exactly for who you are. You don’t have to change, to prove yourself, to do anything except be yourself. In being you, you are worthy of tremendous love.
It’s so important to remember that settling in a relationship is not an option.
Here’s what you need never give up to be in a relationship:
1. Your sense of identity
Know that you are magnificent already. You may think that you’re not good enough, but don’t undervalue yourself or what you’re capable of becoming. You want to be with someone who appreciates you just as you are, even with your imperfections, because he really sees you instead of wanting to change you.
2. Your right to make your own decisions in your own time
Do what feels right for you and don’t give your power away. In relationships, there will be compromises, but even so, you must have the space to think and to do what feels fair. Give, but don’t allow yourself to be used.
You don’t have to settle, and there is no need to rush into any commitment if you’re not ready. Don’t allow others to control your happiness. Your instincts will guide you, so pay attention.
3. The right to choose who you let into your life
Any relationship that restricts you from seeing other important people in your life, such as your family and friends, and closes you off from the world is not worth pursuing. It’s time to break free.
This is manipulation, possession, and obsession, and it’s a far cry from true love. You are allowing yourself to be robbed of your self-esteem and personal freedom to choose.
4. The freedom to speak your truth
Sharing your thoughts and feelings candidly and with integrity and sincerity makes for a wholesome relationship. Your aim is to be heard and to be understood. Ultimately, it’s about being authentic, not giving away your self-respect, being true to yourself, and standing firm in your beliefs.
5. Your body image and self-acceptance
Believing you must change your body image to win another’s love does not serve you. Your decision to do whatever you wish must be for you and for your own health and well-being — not for another. It must be your conscious choice for how you want to be.
There is an unrealistic expectation in society that a woman must be a certain size, must dress a certain way, and must have certain material things to be worthy of attracting love. The media flaunts images of models who are sizes 0, 2, and 4, but in actual fact, 80 percent of women in the world are between sizes 14 and 22.
Accept your body as it is and be comfortable in your own skin. Language is very powerful because it’s a declaration of what you believe to be true, so only speak kind words about yourself to yourself. The man who is worthy of you will be one who loves the entire package you’re in without wanting to change a thing.
6. Chemistry, compatibility, and communication
It does not matter how cute or educated and successful your partner is; if you don’t feel the kind of sexual attraction that gives you that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are in the same room, then you lack chemistry.
Are you compatible as far as your morals and ethics, values and beliefs, religion and politics, educational background, and financial standing? All of these contribute to sustaining a strong bond and friendship. Communication is extremely important. Beyond what you see outwardly, you need to enjoy each other’s company and be able to communicate openly and engage in interesting conversations.
7. Your inner peace and joy
Never allow anyone to rob you of your joy. You have the freedom to sing out loud, paint your walls, write poetry, read whatever you fancy until the wee hours of the morning if you wish, love and laugh, sip your favorite wine, play your favorite music and dance, meditate when you want to, do yoga, do whatever it takes to bring inner peace and make you whole.
There is nothing worse than coming to the end of life and realizing that you wasted your life living on someone else’s terms, always tiptoeing, afraid to laugh, to sing, or to just be silly.
8. Your expectations for yourself and your life
Follow the path that makes the most sense for you, and always be true to yourself. Just as everyone has dreams and struggles, you too have yours. Living someone else’s idea for your life can result in resentment and misery.
Always be yourself and walk your own path. Your life goals matter, so make sure to communicate them clearly and allow your partner to share his as well so that you may support each other toward their fulfillment.
9. Your expectations of his commitments
A man who does not live up to the commitments he makes shows he lacks responsibility. In order to build a trusting relationship, your partner must live up to his commitments.
Does he do what he says he is going to? Does he show up when he is supposed to, or at least call ahead if he is running late? Or does he make you wait constantly? A man shows his love by the commitments he willingly makes and keeps.
10. Putting up with addictions of any kind
Addiction is anything that takes a person away from handling the normal responsibilities of daily life. There are many kinds of addictions — drinking, smoking pot, gambling, shopping, computer games, pornography — anything and everything that takes the person away from being present, from being calm or authentic.
Addicted people are unable to show up, to handle stuff, to be responsive in a loving way to your needs and requests. They avoid issues that need their attention and live in a world of make-believe. They become overly angry and full of rage if they are deprived or if they are in the throes of their addiction. Their behavior easily and often turns abusive.
There is not much you can do, nothing you can fix. This is their battle, one they must wish to overcome and master, and one they must be committed to overcoming. You can’t change them, and you can only be present and support them from afar, if possible until they are completely healed. Know that you are powerless over what that person is going to do.
Make a commitment to take care of your own self, surround yourself with your own support system, and establish your boundaries. Give them time to prove they are committed to their recovery and allow them to use their time to get their act together. You will know what feels best for you and make your own decision whether to stay or leave.
11. Your self-respect
Let’s face it: there are some dysfunctional men who love to control and manipulate. They can become very dominant and disrespectful and threaten you if you should go against their wishes.
If you don’t set your boundaries early on and train your partner to respect you then you’re sending the message that he can always expect you to be that way, and he will walk all over you. Maintain your integrity and uphold your self-respect. Assert yourself and instill in your partner a clear sense of respecting your boundaries.
12. Constant sacrifice
In your frustration and desperation, you feel that you must sacrifice for love; you feel like you have to give in constantly to the needs of your partner, to please him, in order to be loved. Soon, you end up having all this built-up anger and resentment because you’re running on empty and you realize that you’re really not getting what you want from the relationship.
You over-give and you do everything to earn his love. You have all the evidence that he can’t be the man you want him to be, and yet you stay and give more. You find yourself in the same predicament with everyone you meet because the pattern sneaks in even though you promised yourself that you were going to draw a boundary and take care of your needs first.
You have not learned what it is to receive love, and until you do, your relationships cannot shift and change.
Written by Rani St. Pucchi
Originally appeared on Yourtango
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