Familiarity breeds contempt. And, as fate would have it, there is no greater familiarity than between long-term romantic partners, making the entire emotional farmland fertile grounds for needless tragedy.
I try and remain realistic about being taken for granted. It’s probably going to happen at some point, even in the best of relationships. But there can come a time when becoming the scapegoat for someone else’s baggage becomes unsustainable. Here are a few timeless examples.
It’s Always Your Fault
If you are made to feel chronically guilty, there’s a pretty good chance you’re being used as a source of on-demand stress relief by your partner. What starts off as the occasional (and arguably understandable) peak of stress, can turn into a chronic trend unless it is confronted early on.
The problem here is that most of us would rather shy away from potential confrontation and let these outbursts dissolve over time, than risk making an issue out of it — potentially making it far worse.
Up to a point I do agree, all long-term relationships will involve a measure of compromise. However, it can be taken too far.
- If the blame games are making you question your self-worth.
- If the blame games are impacting your self-esteem.
- If you feel powerless when it comes to sculpting the relationship in a way which favors you.
- If you are left hoping that time will solve all problems, despite not having any real indication that it will.
If any of these conditions have become a staple of your relationship, it might have become patently unhealthy for all involved. It is unhealthy for you because you remain the victim of ongoing emotional abuse, and unhealthy for your partner because not confronting it will simply reinforce the behavior (which is the common plight of trying to be the “nice guy/gal”).
There needs to be a separation between the understanding of our partner’s needs, and the defense of our own (they are not mutually exclusive). Should either of these pillars erode, so too will the relationship.
You Are Made To Feel Unworthy
This can be a tricky sign to diagnose because our own insecurity can greatly impact how we judge our partners’ actions. However, if isn’t just a case of poor communication, and your partner habitually kicks you down in order to pick themselves up, it’s time to see their actions for what they are. Insecurity.
The best defense is offense, and this is especially true of ego-driven partners. They may subtly try and manipulate emotions in a way which makes their partners dependent on their ongoing approval. Cementing emotional dependency and crushing their partner’s individual needs.
- If you’re made to feel useless.
- If your relationship seems like an endless quest to win their approval.
- If you can’t get anything right.
- If the fear of failure has dampened your desire to act.
- If you aren’t the priority you wish you were.
In all of these cases, bear in mind that any kind of dependency is fundamentally an illusion. A fortress of cards aimed at defending insecurity. Once the mind games fail to elicit the reaction they are hoping for, the rewards cease and the insecurity becomes manifest. The truth is, they need you to validate their self-worth, not vice-versa.
Your affection is being taken for granted, should it cease to flow gratuitously in their favor, they will be reminded of just how much how much they took from you.
It’s In The Details
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, most cases involving being taken for granted stem — understandably — from routine rather than spite. It is all too easy to forget that love needs to occasionally be re-affirmed. A little reminder now and then which can be communicated via a small detail. Even a simple thank you can serve as a reminder that we are not taking the relationship for granted. It needn’t be anything dramatic.
Despite the gloomy outlook of the two main points above, I really do feel that most cases can be ironed out with a little reshuffling of the cards. Sometimes taking some time apart is the perfect memory jog. For others it is re-establishing crystalline communication. For others still, a heated argument (opening the emotional flood-gates).
In all cases, something clearly needs to give, the only losing strategy is to rely solely on “tomorrow” as the much anticipated miracle-maker we’ve been longing for. Because it might never arrive.