Some More Reflections

I find myself wanting to come here again tonight. Talked to ex, looks like she is involved with someone. She finally stopped traveling and is now renting a place on the ocean. While I suppose I should not care, I am glad she has a roof over her head and some more stability. If she is with another man, then at least I know someone else may be looking out for her.

I spent some time rereading my posts from just under a year ago, and I cannot believe how much has changed. I think of the person I was then, and the person I am is like another world I can only faintly think of in a dream.

Yet I am beginning to see exactly how I ended up in such a dynamic. In two words: too giving. I think the cure can be had in one word: limits.

I've noticed, in this relationship I'm in now, my tendency to always be kind, supportive, and giving. Immediately I noticed her willingness to receive these things, and even to take advantage of them. Doing these things creates an imbalance, and makes it so that the giving of your affection is assumed, and that your partners affection must be earned. Let this dynamic grow for years, and eventually you have a monster. Really, i thin kit works this way - people give affection to get closer to you. If you naturally put yourself too close, why would they want you closer?

Realizing this, I feel I have, however, opened up a can of worms. Now that I have the self awareness to reflect from a more distant perspective, I see so many things, and so many ways of doing things, that relationship dynamics feels different in a way that makes me a little sad: I see it now more as a game. That makes me a little sad. But now that I've established that my natural way of doing things will inevitably lead to disaster, then i must, out of self protection, see it something less natural than I initially assumed it to be.

It is very hard to go against you nature, but i see now that it is not the case that I am just "A real nice guy that attracted users." It is different - being overly giving CREATES users.

I think these ideas, though, are only valid if you are an over giver like me.
FilteringMachine FilteringMachine
31-35, M
9 Responses Nov 10, 2012

Thanks all for your comments - you are all saying exactly what is going on in my head - just way to busy these days to write like I used to! To me, I feel like the first step in feeling this self respect is to cut off the things that debase my self respect. Namely, the over giving, and over-desiring of affection. I think this is simply step one - to shut off the thing that drains my self respect: my need for approval from others. I've not been able to stop it internally. My desire to feel close is too great. So, I feel that stopping it externally, or at least reducing it, is the key.

I've actually been practicing this. Suppose a buddy cancels plans with me. In the past I would have thought 'oh no, maybe he does not like me anymore.' or 'did I make him mad?' When really, dude just had something that came up. Now when things like that happen, I just remind myself that it most likely has nothing to do with me!

I think another dimension to the problem is that I have, in ways, a very subtle nature, which is a problem. People don't pick up on what I think are obvious signals, and, because I assume others operate like me, I'm always picking up on what seem like obvious signals that are really nothing at all!

I've gotten to the point now where I can actually witness all this happening in a conversation, and I almost have to laugh at myself, asking, "how did I get this way?" But I also laugh because know I have the power to change.

The issue with having poor personal boundaries is that resentment can build up over any aspect of a relationship in which one feels that one is being short-changed. Its not exclusive to sex and intimacy. It could be relative effort in chores or child-rearing or who contributes more to the household expenses. It can leave the other partner in the relationship confused, especially if its paired with a mentality that since your partner loves you, he or she should automatically know what you want and need. What happens is that while one is being nice and giving and over-extending, inside somewhere, there is a clicker taking stock, counting the times, recording the imbalance until a point when the resentment spills over and becomes righteous indignation at the injustice of it all.

I see overgivers approaching me as just as dangerous as chronic takers/users approaching me. When someone starts to try to please me like you describe I have learned to walk away, just as I do if they don’t have flexibility and compassion and a sense of giving. It’s balance that is needed, simply enough. I walk away if their boundaries of self are wishy washy or they are more interested in approval than the actual relationship or lose themselves in the process.

Some of the red flags for people pleasers are very dangerous because they are what we all seek or want others to see in ourselves: someone who tells you that you are special or smart or particularly kind or talented or good or and so on. It sounds great but in actuality, it's a huge red flag. If the behavior is way off to one degree – way too respectful, way too loving, way too impressed, way too disdainful, way too… anything… that’s going to have problems. The people pleasing side of those things I specifically avoid and see as pretty insidious red flags now because they are stealthy.

The truth is “nice guys” and “good girls” hurt people too. Sometimes it’s simply by circumstance. Sometimes through carelessness. And sometimes it’s by people pleasing or seeking approval to the extent of not being true to themselves and they leave behind hurt and confusion. By letting their boundaries and their self-definition change in response to a new person entering their world or letting a turn of events or a new environment or circumstance drastically alter the person they are to the world – such as when you say you people please or work hard to gain approval in relationships – you are NOT being a nice guy. You are setting up a situation that is entirely unreasonable.

It is entirely unreasonable to think that you could spend the rest of your life people pleasing and seeking approval, sacrificing the real you in the process. At some point you are going to feel empty and unfulfilled, like you are being used and mistreated. Then your real self, whoever that may be (whether you know or not), will shine through and perhaps even a not so great version of your real self will be what appears out of the bitterness and hurt. We all have those pieces in ourselves, even “nice guys” and “good girls”. The person you were in a relationship with will feel surprised and confused because you have unilaterally changed the deal that, in all honesty, you both agreed to in the beginning. You agreed to seek their approval and take care of their needs above your own. You agreed to sacrifice yourself for their happiness when you decided to work so hard to please them and seek their approval.

The person you want to be is “liked”. The person you want to be is “desired”. The person you want to be is “accepted”. The person you want to be is “respected”. The person you want to be is “valued”. Those are not actually definitions of personality characteristics and are subject to the eye of the beholder. They are definitions of the way others relate back to you and see your reflection, not of your inner self. So do you not define yourself except for through the eyes of whatever person is right in front of you and their reflections back on you? If that is true then a person who is whole without you and does not need rescue, caretaking, guidance and overgiving would reflect back a very different reflection than the reflection you seek. Perhaps that reflection is what feels like love to you. That reflection certainly would not feed that need for respect, need for approval and need to people please in the short run but in the long run it is actually the only way to accomplish it. You cannot find what you seek through giving up yourself in the name of pleasing other people and expect to find your own self-respect, approval and pleasure.

I think that, in your current state of self-evolution, you would reject what you say you want in a partner. It doesn’t give you the reflection of the type of person you want to be. It’s not that all relationships or people become that way. It’s that the “nice guy” game isn’t authentic so yes, it does set up an unhealthy dynamic.

The way you’ve gone about this relationship says a lot about where you are. It is telling that you have chosen a partner so innocent, inexperienced and demure. Your value will again be in the role of caretaking and giving, not as a partner with equality. Your ex was a dependent type and you still talk about worrying if some other man is taking care of her or not… is she worrying about you at all? You must like to be the knight on a white horse. In this new relationship you picked someone who was not only inexperienced, but clearly exhibits a natural tendency to avoid and perhaps dislike intimate physical expression. Her naivety is not a good sign at all. Adults who like sex have had lots of it. If it was a cultural value she holds dear to remain innocent, then what would be her reason for starting to date and open herself up that way only after coming to this country? Many people have commented on the red flag of you potentially being taken advantage of in this situation. I see no need to revisit it.

You seemed to find the best thing about her being that she respects you to an exceptional degree. All that tells me is that you do not feel respected elsewhere. If you need that so much, then I think the lack you have is self-respect and a clear recognition of the respect you may have earned elsewhere by the things you have done that are no doubt respect-worthy. In other words, if you need external respect this badly to walk straight into a relationship that has red flag written all over it then you must really need that boost for a reason deep within yourself.

That is not to say that being giving isn’t a good thing. It does feel good to meet other people’s needs, but not at the expense of our own. It makes us feel better about ourselves and some of us love bringing pleasure and good feelings to others, but if done to the extent of losing touch with one's authentic self then it is all fake anyway.

If you overgive at the expense of knowing and/or acting honestly from your authentic self then you will find not be successful at love. At the end of the day the world interprets us in the way we project ourselves. If the way you project yourself when in a relationship is different than who you really are when outside of a relationship because you wish to please or find approval or if it changes continually, then yes, you are always going to find difficulty in finding authentic, good-hearted people to have relationships with. Those people will see your people-pleasing nature as dangerous and steer clear. So the ones who are left, by default, are the ones who are more agreeable to that kind of arrangement and you are more likely to have this dynamic.

Like ++++++++++++++++++

I could not agree more - you have very artfully expressed exactly what I was trying to say. Especially about what I want. Who do I want to be? Someone who is liked, respected, accomplished, and desired. That is very precisely what I want out of my life. Those are the things that make me happy. I've been very happy lately, because I have each one of those things. Naturally, I don't feel respected elsewhere. I lost my career trying to please my ex, who promptly decided I was not worth her attention once she inherited a quarter million dollars. If that does not make one feel like a worthless pile, nothing will. The profound shame I feel for allowing this to happen cannot be over stated. The following disrespect I eventually received from family and friends and former co-workers because of this situation was intolerable. I had to completely cut out some formerly very good long time friends because they disrespected me because of my situation. So, your statement about not feeling respected elsewhere is VERY true. I feel step one in freeing myself of this mentality is to stop being giving.

If you set out to be someone who is liked, respected, accomplished and desired and the way people value and assess those things changes, then who are you? It used to be a man was valued, liked, respected and accomplished for working a good job and paying the bills for a family but did little domestically to help out. Now that has changed; many men are now respected, valued and liked for being family men and helpful, equal partners with not as much emphasis on traditional roles. If you had defined YOU as the traditional role and people changed their judgment of that, suddenly you would not be quite so likeable, quite so respected, quite so valuable in your own eyes. If you define yourself by how other people perceive you, other people's value judgments, other people's beliefs you are always at the whims of the changing world around you. On the other hand, if you define yourself by YOURS you can always remain centered no matter what else happens in the outside world.

Change's comment: Like X 1000

Thanks Change - I needed to hear that today too. It has helped me with my own dilemma. A million thanks.

Fm, I think you are missing a major point here about the respect thing. I do not - and I doubt anyone here does - disrespect you because your ex was short-sighted and selfish. That is not about your failing. It is her failing. It does not make you less worthy of respect. In the past you have accused me of lacking respect for you, when I assure you that nothing could have been further from the truth. You have decided you aren't worthy of respect and, to you, her behavior and the behavior of some you were close with equals confirmation of it. therefore, you think and fear that everyone else agrees with that too. It's simply not true though. Having my own Achilles heels I sympathize. But don't buy into the belief that you are not respected. Just like I did not disrespect you when you thought I did, it's highly probable that you have more respect than you think externally. Internally though is a battle you have yet to win.

And Enna, you are very welcome. Glad to pay you back for many similar things you've helped me with.

Great point, CWDYG. I have gotten into a number of relationships/friendships/jobs because I was desperate. When I finally felt safe enough to let my own self start coming through, each one of them. fell apart. These interactions were hard to sustain and devastating when they ended. And all because it began on a false premise at best, and a lie at worst, of who I said I was. The last friendship to end this way landed me in the hospital. I swore I'd never lie again just to not be alone. I hope I'm strong enough to stick to it.

Again, simply do you like your eggs done?? Go find out. I like mine fried with the centres more firm than runny. My babe likes hers fried with the yolk a little runny. There is room for both versions in the skillet. And sometimes we like egg sandwiches with mayonaise. She likes her steak medium and I like mine medium rare. A real-ationship (that hyphen was deliberate) means finding out stuff about yourself and each other, not becoming a mirror to them.

6 More Responses

<p>The "I'm too nice" story is a comforting one - it lets YOU off the hook. It places the responsibility for any and all problems you experience in relationships squarely on the shoulders of the other person.</P><br />
<p>That is NOT self awareness. That is self justification.</P><br />
<p>You may well be a "giver" but that does not mean you do not bring other problems to a relationship dyad that are less than helpful. Real self awareness is when you can look at yourself and CLEARLY recognise the whole truth about yourself - and that includes acknowledging those aspects of you that are NOT great, those behaviours that are selfish, those attitudes or beliefs that are causing you to hurt others. . . . . . </P><br />
<p>I ask you to honestly look at yourself and say "I have never hurt anyone - because I am such a nice guy. I have always been the one who was hurt by others." </P><br />
<p>If you can honestly do that, then, sad to say, you do NOT know yourself very well . . . Because no person alive can say this. If you truly believe this to be true of yourself, then you have a very limited understanding of what YOU bring to a relationship dynamic.</P><br />
<p>I know you will think I am being harsh, but it does NOT serve you well to allow you to "wimp out" of personal responsibility. Being a fully functioning person involves knowing yourself "warts and all" and doing the very best that you can to deal with those aspects of your personality that are less than perfect. </P><br />
<p>If you allow yourself to believe that your problems are caused by being "too nice" it lets you off the hook for taking full responsibility for yourself. And if you go down that path, I suspect you will never find true happiness.</P>

White-Hot Sword of Truth from Enna! Like x1000

Hmm, interesting. No, I can't look in the mirror and say I've never hurt anyone. In all honesty there is rather a trail of broken hearts. First girlfriend (in high school) I left because I was frankly just curious about other girls. Second girlfriend (first sex partner) was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive - not only to me, but everyone around her. I put up with it because she loved intensely, and was smoking hot to boot. Eventually it was too much and I had to leave. And, I know it hurt my wife horrifically when I left. I never paint myself as perfect. But when it comes to relationships, I give too much. WAY too much. This is not a virtue. When I say "I am too giving" I say it in the same way someone might say "I am a alcoholic." I did not understand this until recently. So, I don't think it lets me off some 'hook,' rather, it IS the hook. It is my biggest problem in relationships (aside from liking sex), and it is very much my responsibility to correct that problem. The hard part is that it is a huge part of who I am. Those things are tough to change.

Filter, I can see you are struggling with this - as we all do. Recently I have faced a dilemma of a similar nature (although not in my personal life with Baz thank goodness!) and I too have found it hard to see the wood for the trees.

When you say "I am too giving" - ask yourself "why do I need to be so giving?"
I think you will find the answer in what Change as written above - because you need people to like you. And when you are giving, people DO like you!

The problem is that you are expecting the other person to reciprocate in a similar way - but, as you have found, that rarely happens. Then you feel that you have been taken advantage of - yet in reality, YOU offered the "niceness" and the other person is just responding to that. The fact that they fail to respond as you think they should is not actually a fault in them - nor is it a fault in you! Rather it is a mis-match of expectations.

As Baz says, "Your greatest concession becomes their minimum expectation." You think you have given a huge amount - as you surely have - but the person on the receiving end sees it as their "minimum expectation" (or entitlement) - instead of recognising, appreciating and valuing the fact that in reality what you have given is your "maximum concession".

May I suggest thaty you don't give up on being a giving person - because that would be foreign to your personality. But that you develop boundaries for yourself in which you accept that if you "over give" you will NOT be meeting your own needs.

I do understand, even though it may seem as if I don't, just how difficult and challenging all this stuff is!! Truly, it is a life long journey to know oneself and it requires constant challenging of yourself in ways that are MOST uncomfortable.

But it is a worthwhile journey - so don't let the bumps, the saddle sores and the tired feet prevent you from taking the journey. In many ways it is the only really worthwhile one that any of us ever does . . . . .

Filter, I would challenge your premise. Personally, I find your self-portrayal very one -dimensional - the uber nice guy who gets taken for an emotional ride and is treated like a door mat every time. By your reckoning, anyone who pairs with an extremely nice person will ultimately use them.

Comments both subtle and blunt by various members have raised your reactionary tendencies in relationship seeking. You yourself have observed that you are different when alone. It is your own boundaries with yourself which are sabotaging you. You don't know your own true North. Simple analogy - how do you like your eggs done? Ever watch Runaway Bride? Julia Robert's character does not know how she likes her eggs done - she always has them done exactly as whichever potential groom she is with.

Its your own authenticity you need to seek. Find out what you need and want in yourself and then you will get an idea of what you seek in a relationship. If you don't know at your core who you are and what you need and want, how can anyone else determine if they can meet them?

I don't really see it as "being taken for a ride." I think of it this way - when I create positive reinforcements for being used. In other words, I think that being overly-giving is not virtue. It is a vice. It is risky behavior. Of course, you are right - how can you meet anyone's expectations if you don't even know what they are? All challenging to think about. I used to think I wanted a certain kind of emotional support from a relationship. Now I feel like what I want is someone who is fun to be with, who likes me, maybe even loves me, and really enjoys physical intimacy on the same level that I do. I know that is not much, but it is a start.

I also was just too darn nice and giving in the past so I lost respect from former partners. Strangely enough I am now married to a lovely man and we are both givers. It works because it is mutual. The marital well never runs dry and he and I could no more change who we are then reverse our genders. Why change who you are? Find another giver and feel the mutual joy that is a constant.

I am a lot older than my husband but we are like two crazy kids together. We stepped out of the stereotypical relationship pool. From two different countries and backgrounds but life is great. Mutual laughter brought us together but giving to each other keeps us strong and deeply in love. All is in balance with us and if we disagree, we immediately discuss things and do not allow small issues to grow into larger ones. And another very important part of our marriage is that we really like one another as what we see is what we are as individuals. It does make a huge difference. Peace,D

So we attract certain types and vice versa? Or do we fall into patterns we are comfortable with. If the former woe is me for I am doomed to continue in this path. If the latter, I can change my behavior live my life and have a functional relationship that includes intimacy.

I've often wondered what kind of a scent I give off to attract users. I think some people can spot effusiveness, even when it is bottled up. It's just one short step over to enthusiastic caring. I have to agree with RWL about healthy boundaries.

We don't attract them. We are the ones who don't have the sense to immediately run away.

Be a giving person with a set of healthy boundaries.

That is my goal.