3 Reasons You Give Too Much In Relationships (And How To Stop)
Your identity and passions are the very things that draw someone to you in the first place. So, why do you sacrifice them when you get into a relationship?
Someone I coached once told me that he identified as a “people pleaser,” and these tendencies made their way into his relationships.
What he would do is essentially mold himself to whatever he thought the woman he was dating at the time, wanted.
To his surprise and dismay, this usually had the opposite result that he expected:
She lost interest.
It’s confusing, isn’t it? You do everything that you think someone wants and it seems to push them away rather than pull them closer. Why could that be?
And moreover, why do you keep on doing it?
Here are 3 reasons you’re likely to sacrifice your identity (even if you don’t mean to), and how to stop yourself from doing it again.
1: You start to prioritize the relationship over YOUR interests and passions.
I’ll be the first to say that I believe your partner should be one of your highest priorities in life. If you hope to build a future alongside someone, they’re going to be an enormous (perhaps the biggest) influence on what that looks like. The love and devotion you have for this person can easily be overwhelming at times and as a result, you want to give everything to them.
Sometimes, we can fall into patterns of being so excited about this that we want to spend all of our time with him or her. It’s okay to skip poker night this week…eh, the girls can wait. You’ll just watch the replay of the game, no biggie…
Here’s the catch: The interests and passions you had before the relationship are some of the very things that attracted your partner to you in the first place.
They liked that you were independent. They love that you have a passion for music, or cars, or art, or knitting.
So, when we begin placing the relationship and our partner above the very things that made us attractive in the first place, we begin to drift away from the identity that they fell in love with.
The result is the experience that my friend above had — lost interest.
The answer is simple: Keep doing the things you love.
The person you’re with will (and should) support your interests and passions (as long as they’re not hurting someone or jeopardizing the relationship). In fact, they’ll probably encourage you to get out and do more of it.
(For the love of all things holy, just get out of the house!)
But seriously, though, understand that being a well-rounded and interesting individual is the very foundation of attraction, and by revolving your entire life around your partner, you are shedding every dimension of yourself except for the one that involves them.
Keep doing the things you love, continue living your individual life, and bring them along for the ride when appropriate.
When you’re doing things that you are passionate about, you radiate happiness and confidence. You get into your “zone,” which is magnetic and attractive.
Building a life that you love isn’t just a method for getting into a relationship, it is something that should continue whether or not you are in one.
2: You get so excited, you miss the red flags.
If you’re even reading this article, this probably applies to you.
It’s safe to say we’ve all been there before, because it’s very easy to get so infatuated with someone that we completely overlook the warning signs, especially if they’re “small.”
The trouble is, the small things you overlooked in the beginning of a relationship are often the very things that cause it to end, eventually.
And, how do things look through rose-colored glasses if there are “no red flags”?
Perfect. They look perfect.
What do you want to give to a relationship that seems perfect?
The level of excitement gets turned up to 10 and every waking moment is spent thinking about Kevin or Kathy and you do everything you can to make sure they know how interested you are so they never doubt your feelings…
All the while, you’ve been letting their poor behavior slide, lowering your standards, and accepting sub-par treatment without even realizing it.
You maintain your composure and boundaries at work, so why can’t you do the same thing in love?
Emotions. Emotions are the reason.
This isn’t a “women are emotional” commentary because this happens to men as well. Hell, it’s happened to me plenty of times.
When we get too far into our heart we tend to push our brain aside and tell it to shut up. We pretend we don’t hear it warning us about that thing we just saw (or…didn’t see). And then, all of a sudden, these red flags are waving so brightly in our faces that we have no choice but to acknowledge them. Except now, we’ve gone so far down this path that the breakup is far more painful than it ever had to be.
If only we’d paid attention…to ourselves.
As the old saying goes: “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”
Maintaining your boundaries and standards in a relationship is a challenge caused by the very reasons outlined above. This is why, once we’re free of the other person’s influences, we ask ourselves why we never noticed these signs all along.
In order to maintain our clarity and composure, we need to be willing to remove the rose-colored glasses now and then and take a real, uncensored inventory of how things are going.
What do you love about this person? What is bothering you? Are the things that bother you eventually going to be dealbreakers? Are they dealbreakers today?
And here’s the trick: Be honest with yourself about the answers.
The questions don’t do any good if you lie to yourself.
Ask the opinions of people you trust, and openly listen to their thoughts. They may see things that you don’t, and perhaps they’re too nervous to tell you. Or, they’ve already told you and you just refused to listen.
Remember: Your trust, respect, and love have to be earned and deserved by the right person. Stop giving them to people who don’t give the proper effort in return.
3: The person is great, but the relationship isn’t.
Relationships aren’t just based on how you feel about the other person, but how the other person makes you feel about yourself when you’re together.
I coach a variety of successful women who are, not surprisingly, looking for a driven and ambitious man.
So, when they meet someone new, all they talk about is how great he is. His accomplishments, his drive, his ambition, his intelligence, his charm.
While all of these things are great…none of them make him a good partner.
None of them guarantee compatibility.
None of them mean that he’s actually a good person.
None of them mean that he will treat you right.
Yet, they get so caught up on the PERSON, that they dive in head-first, even if he’s not good for them.
That’s one of the hardest lessons to learn: You can have to good people, and they may not be good for each other.
But, it’s also one of the most important lessons. The man or woman you’re interested in could be an amazing individual, but a sub-par significant other. The two are not the same.
Pay close attention to the things that really signal compatibility:
- Do you share similar visions for the future?
- Do your values and worldviews align?
- Can you trust this person to stand by you in a time of need?
- Are you willing to stand by THEM in a time of need?
- Are there religious or political differences that may become a problem?
- Do they listen to you, or just wait to respond?
- Does your relationship go deeper than just physical attraction?
- Are they kindhearted?
- Would you trust them to watch your pet?
There are many aspects of a relationship that require harmony between two people in order to flourish. Someone can be great on their own, but flounder once commitment is on the horizon.
Understanding that this is always a risk of starting something new, is a key piece of knowing whether you need to walk away, or if it’s safe to continue.
It’s paramount to make sure your investment in someone is on par with their investment in you. Not just because of how you feel about them, but because of how your union works to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Being a giver in a relationship is not a bad thing, and none of this means that you should stop being your genuine, caring, generous self. What it does mean, though, is that if you consistently find yourself being taken advantage of, then raising the standards for the people you let into your life.
Romance is not dead, it is simply reserved for those who raise the standards for those they give their time to.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.