Question: You write in one of your articles that “we teach people how they treat us”. I somehow get what it means but do not know how it relates to my love life. I’ve been in several relationships but all ended because I felt that I was doing all the work in the relationship with not much input from the men. What hurt me most is that the same men treated other women they were involved with the way I wanted them to treat me only that they didn’t treat me they way they treated them. It’s not like I ask for much. I’ve always taken care of myself and don’t understand how I’m teaching men to treat me the way they have treat me.
When I read where you say “we teach people how they treat us”, I wonder how that could be in my situation since I made it clear to the men that I wanted them to treat me as special. Can you please explain more what “we teach people how they treat us” means?
Yangki’s Answer: First of all, you sound like a special woman to me — and should be treated as special.
It is however, true that “we teach people how they treat us”. How you do the teaching can sometimes be subconscious but often it is something that is learned behaviour. From what I read in your question, because you’ve always taken care of yourself with not much help from others, you consciously or subconsciously do not expect anything from anyone. You’ve learned that no one is going to be there for you, except you.
When you get into a relationship, you don’t expect the other person to give you what you want and right from the start of the relationship (and without being consciously aware of it) make it clear (in words or actions) that you (and only you) can and will take care of you because you don’t expect to be taken care of — at least not to your satisfaction.
For example: On the very first date, you insist on paying for your coffee or dinner, and when your date tries to be a “gentleman”, you declare how independent you are, and even get “emotional about it. Months later, you find yourself not only paying for all your date bills but also doing all the work to make the relationship work. Even when you ask for help on something personal or related to the relationship, you follow it with “It’s no big deal. I can do it myself” , “If you don’t want to do it, that’s okay”, etc.
Even if deep down inside what you really want is for someone to be there for you — to put you first, to worry about you, and make you feel special etc. subconsciously what your energy (and words and actions) is saying is “I don’t expect you to be there for me and take care of me. But don’t worry, I can take care of myself.”
The irony is that this “subconscious energy” often attracts people who will not be there for you, and won’t take care of you. And even when you do attract someone who is capable and wants to be there for you, you don’t know how to allow them to be there for you and/or take care of you. You don’t trust that they will or can (at least not to your satisfaction). So you do it all by yourself even when that’s not what you’d have preferred.
Some people can go living the frustration of feeling like “nobody cares about me” all their lives. They go from relationship to relationship looking for someone to be there for them but not allowing anyone to. Others turn their frustration to trying to “force” it out of their partners — nagging, demanding, complaining, playing mind games etc. but it never ultimately brings the satisfaction of knowing that someone wants to be there, take care of you and make you feel special.
It’s only when we let go some of our beliefs, assumptions, expectations and habits that are not serving us that something begins to shift — and often to our pleasant surprise.