The 12 Lessons in Life listed here are very important to me. Among them is the statement: Never make someone your priority when to them you're only an option.
They are very powerful words which should be heeded every day of our lives, coming as they do out of simple self-value. In any relationship, we should be a priority, every time, not be an easy option that anyone can cast aside or ignore whenever he/she wishes. That is so debilitating and destructive. When we have little self-esteem, when we hold ourselves in low regard and when we lack self-respect we tend to put other people above us in needs and value.
We might be in a relationship where:
* the person won't commit;
* the boyfriend/girlfriend makes regular excuses for not being able to ring us or see us;
* we instinctively feel our loved one might be seeing someone else;
* partners deny us love and affection and take it elsewhere;
* we feel alone and neglected.
But do we do anything about it? Do we get out of there fast or clearly put our own needs on the table? Not at all. We continue to make excuses for our pain and frustrated hopes and expectations, and to make excuses for our partners. We suffer in silence, and martyrdom, while continually hoping for something else to happen, even when we feel deep down it won't be forthcoming, while becoming increasingly unattractive in the process through worry and stress.
Many people, especially women, sit and bear it, hoping daily that the person will change, that they will begin to treat them better. That they will eventually be No.1. Even when these women (and men) can clearly feel that they are a low option for their lovers or partners, that they come last in the diary, the schedule, the job, the scheme of things, they still hang in there taking the crumbs that fall off the table instead of being the main bread themselves. Such a situation, where the relationship is clearly imbalanced, is not good for either person.
Consequences of being an option
First of all, for the uncaring partner, such attention and acceptance feed their ego, reinforce unwanted behaviour, place them in a perceived higher status and encourage them to continue in the same vein of treatment both inside and outside the home. By being allowed to treat another person as dispensable they get to set the rules, to set the tone of the relationship, to set the degree of connection, and ultimately dictate the results, exactly in the manner they desire. Most importantly, it encourages them to take their partners for granted and to mainly please themselves. Theirs is not a partnership of reciprocity but a self-serving one which suits their intent and boosts their esteem. Why should they change it?
Second, for the person on the receiving end, it keeps them feeling anxious, low in esteem, impotent and inadequate. They are kept feeling trapped, not in an equal partnership, but one where they are relegated to second-best. It deprives them of other love, affection and attention they could be getting from someone else, it cements their perceived low-esteem in their own eyes and, worst of all, over time, it robs them of self-love and self-respect. Usually, such partners would say that they 'love' the other person who treats them as an option. But true love does not hurt, harm or neglect. It is the greatest force of empowerment in our lives. Once we love, the object of that love is a priority, truly, because that is all we care about: showing that lover just how much they mean to us. There is no place for options in that relationship. They become an indispensable part of us.
We only make people, who treat us badly, priorities in our lives when we have no self-love. We believe we do not deserve anything better because that person is the best we can get. We stay put, perhaps for convenience and full of fear, while dying inside from anxiety and neglect. Not realising that as long as we keep reinforcing the behaviour we do not like, keep reinforcing ourselves as dispensable options, keep hoping for better that never materialises, we will never become a priority for anyone, least of all, for ourselves.
What are you like towards your date, spouse or partner? How do you treat the person you most value? Try this QUIZ
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads."