Some people are wired to be helpful. They see something that needs to be done and immediately do it. If they know someone has a need or desire, they automatically step in to fill that void. In a potential relationship, even in a budding friendship, this may be a mistake. If you’d like to see me discuss this topic, the video can be found here.
What I’m suggesting is that you hold back on doing a lot of the things that come naturally for you to do. The reason is this: you do a lot for someone only to realize later that you were taken for granted, or your deeds weren’t acknowledged or appreciated. You walk away after everything is said and done thinking, “I’ve done so much for this person and it didn’t mean anything to them.” It’s hurtful to feel disposable, rejected, and like you’ve put in so much hard work for so little in return.
Someone may keep you around simply because they enjoy the benefits of your actions. I’m suggesting you hold yourself back a little bit. Give enough of yourself to show you’re interested and then take a step back. What you’re looking for is to see how the other person responds to you, your words, and your actions. If they seem satisfied with what you’ve given, don’t give more. If they show appreciation and reciprocate, do a little more. Create a situation where your efforts and energy are matched by the other person.
I want to challenge you to think about why you do what you do. I’ve heard countless times, “I gave them everything. I did so much for them. I cleaned their house. I cooked for them. I fixed their car. I mowed their lawn. Whatever they asked me to do, I did. I also did things they didn’t ask me to do because I thought they’d like it. And, after all of that, after all that time, they told me they didn’t think we were compatible or they didn’t want to be in a relationship with me.”
My questions to you are: Did they ask you to do what you did? Did you offer to do things and they accepted your offer? Or did you do those things because it’s in your nature to be helpful? Be honest with yourself. Chances are you didn’t do most what you did for them, you did it because of who you are as a person.
Changing your mindset on this will 1) help you not feel taken advantage of and, 2) step back and not jump into fulfilling a perceived need or want in another person’s life. Don’t fall into a victim mindset listening to your friends tell you how much you did for that person and how you deserve better. The key is finding someone who appreciates you for “you.”
The reason for stepping back is for someone to see you for “you” and not through all the physical things you do. Give the person time to see your personality, your heart, your views on various topics, and not only see you being busy catering to what you perceive their needs or wants to be.
As mentioned above, pay attention to whether or not the other person is matching your energy and commitment to the friendship. Are the actions they display balancing out your own? Are they appreciative of the things you do? Do they acknowledge your physical effort? You don’t have to fulfill every need you notice. It’s not your job to attempt to fix things in that person’s life.
I understand all of this is challenging to those who are givers and doers. However, it’s important to hold back a bit. If they get used to what you’re doing in the very beginning, you may start to feel unappreciated, disposal, and taken advantage of. You may notice a pattern of them asking you over around dinner time, and them saying they’re hungry because you’ve established a pattern of cooking whenever you go there in the evening. Or them apologizing the place is a mess because, at this point, they know you’ll automatically start to clean.
Watch for patterns. Listen to how they say things. Pay attention to their reactions when you accomplish a task. Worst case scenario is the other person starts to feel entitled to have you do certain things. In the above examples, if you didn’t start cleaning up, or if you suggest they place a take-out or delivery order, they may say you’re acting different. They’ve become so accustomed to you doing things that when you don’t do them, they question why. They may even remind you of when you’ve cooked and cleaned and express not understanding why you’re not doing it now.
To avoid later questioning what that person may think of you, slow yourself down. Their feelings for you will reveal themselves over time. You want them to like you and want to be with you for “you,” not for what you do.
Comments always welcome. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the above article.
Have you found that you need to hold back on being your full self when building a friendship with someone?
Have you been on the receiving end of someone giving themselves to you in the abovementioned ways? How did you deal with it?
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