What “You Teach People How to Treat You” Means

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.

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14 Comments

  • I consider myself a good woman by all accounts and have been told by people close to me that I’m a good person. But when it comes to relationships, I always get you’re a “bad person” attitude and treatment from men. I’m very loving, good listener, giving, never complain and I’m always very understanding even in situations most women would act up. But whatever I try to do to show them that I’m not the person they think I am, only makes them more sure that they know me and I’m a bad person.

    My last ex tells everyone I’m the worst woman he’s ever been with, and says nothing about his ex wife who cleaned him out of everything he owns. I took care of him and lent him money when he had nothing. I never asked for the money back but he paid it all back when we broke up because he says he wants to cleanse himself of me. How is what I’m doing teaching them how to treat me? You tell me.

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    • It’s sad that this is your experience. I’m tempted to go the “conventional” way and blame it on the men but the reality is we teach people how they treat us. We may not always be responsible for how others treat us but if person after person treats us the same way, it says the problem is not with the other person but with since we’re the only common denominator in all those experiences.

      Trying to be good may exactly be the reason you’re thought of as “not” a good person. You can not see and therefore cannot help others see your innate goodness when you’re too busy trying to be good. If you truly believed you’re a good person, there’d be no need for you to “try” being good. Anything that involves “trying to be” screams “NOT!” that’s why there is the “trying”. It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t come across as authentic. It’s not attractive.

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  • Its very true… I attract men who treqt me horribky always hopin to get their affection now married, if I gain weight my husband treats me like utter crap!! It upsets me so much and im so insecure.I.allow him to treat me this way… my mind set is if he doesnt eant me heavy than he doesnt deserve me smaller either

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  • first of all, thank you for this insight and countless other life changing articles! now i need to learn to change this but at the same time find a balance within myself and my overly independent vibe.

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    • As the article says work on letting 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.”

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