A few years ago I was attending a “girl’s night” complete with wine, games, face masks, and in-depth conversation.
The topic of our significant others came up and as if on cue, everyone started complaining about their partner and all of the things that they did wrong in the relationship.
Now, I am by no means innocent of this kind of behavior. There is no doubt in my mind that I chimed in with the negative qualities of whomever I was dating at the time because it was simply what everyone else was doing.
As the complaints continued, every single woman at the party was told the same lament over and over by their friends.
“You deserve the absolute best and if he can’t give it to you, someone else will!”
None of us brought up what we could do to improve the relationship. We all simply agreed that we deserved the absolute best.
I don’t like using the word “deserve” to be honest, as I believe it has gotten me in trouble in the past. Time and time again I would start dating someone and all I thought about was what they were providing for me.
We need to have more honest dialogue around the reality that we don’t automatically deserve “the best” from someone regardless of what we are doing and putting into the relationship.
You cannot expect someone else to give it their all if you don’t do the same
Early on in my current relationship, my partner did so many wonderful things for me. Planning our dates, cooking dinner, cleaning our apartment, and thoughtful birthday gifts became normal… but I didn’t return the favor for him.
I got lazy and allowed him to fully take the reigns without offering to do my part. After a few months of dating my partner was honest enough to be fully transparent with me (something I am very lucky for) about how I wasn’t putting much effort into our relationship.
I truly cared about him, wanted things to work, and realized that I had just assumed that I deserved to be treated a certain way and thought I could sit back and let everything fall into place.
The reality is that my partner has his own needs and I needed to learn what those were so that he wasn’t feeling neglected in what was supposed to be a mutual partnership.
If you continually mistreat your partner they shouldn’t stay
Several years ago a girl in our core friend group started dating a new prospect. We were all excited for her because she had gotten out of a long-term toxic relationship and the new man that she was dating sounded absolutely amazing.
The first time that we met him was at the tail-end of happy hour when a group of us were together.
He had driven all the way across town to drop her off and was driving back after just a couple of hours to pick her up so we begged her to let us meet him before they left.
The moment that he walked into the bar to meet us, our friend started being extremely rude to him. When we asked him about his job she told him not to start on about his, “boring day.”
When he went to order a drink she berated him saying that they were about to leave. His face turned red with embarrassment as we all told him to order one and that we wanted to get to know him.
Her treatment of him baffled all of us and after we left all I could think about was how nice and kind he had seemed, and that she didn’t deserve to be with him if this was how she was going to treat him moving forward.
Relationships are going to ebb and flow but you can’t let one person carry all of the weight
Recently I was talking to a friend whose husband is an executive at a technology start-up. He has to work extremely long hours and although he tries to help as much as he can at home, she accepts that certain things are never going to be completely equal because of his workload.
This is something I have struggled with because my partner also works at a technology start-up and often has to work late nights.
Because of this, I will often do extra household chores during the week and he does more on the weekends.
These days, I like to think of relationships as a bucket. If one person is pouring themselves into the bucket, they will become exhausted and resentment will build.
For a true partnership, both of you have to be pouring into the bucket and asking yourself what you are putting into the relationship.Only then can we claim that we deserve the best because we are truly giving it our all.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash