When my friends tell me about situations like these in their lives, I get pretty cranked up. My Xena, Princess Warrior persona kicks into full gear! I get all riled up about how they deserve better and I'm happy to set everyone straight!
I have to admit that I've had more than a few of these painfully unfulfilling relationships in my life. I would wonder to myself what's wrong with me, am I not good enough to have a really wonderful relationship? The scarier question was why did I stay? Upon reflection, I realized that in most situations I was getting a little portion of what I wanted. Crumbs. Tantalizing bits of a good thing. Just enough to keep me hooked, hoping for more. I would say to myself, if I just give a bit more I'll be rewarded with something wonderful. Honestly, the reward seldom came.
Frankly, I was fearful of losing the little bits of love or attention that I got from these individuals. I used to think that some of a good thing is better than none. I learned that it's not. In recent years I gathered my courage and began stating my needs. I asked for what I wanted. In one situation I said that I wished that they would spend more time with me, to be made a priority in their life. With another person my answer to desperate requests to save them from imminent disaster was consistently "no." (don't worry, the disasters were pretty much drama created from lack of organization on their part). In the cases where the other party could not or would not commit on the same level that I had, I chose to let them go. It didn't mean that I held resentment toward them, I just let go of the crumbs. In the end it was a good thing.
Fortunately, I have some wonderful, solid relationships in my life. Reciprocity is the hallmark of these healthy associations; friends, coworkers, family members and others in my community. All are mutually supportive, each party considering the other. My best friend is the perfect example. She loves spending time with me, delights in my successes, is there when I need her, and she makes time in her life for me. And…I do the same for her.
Well, I'm pretty much done with clinging to crumbs. I am either going to find ways to make difficult relationships work or I'm going to let them go. Then…I will leave open the way for those who come bearing cake!