Working with clients, over the last 20 years, and joining it with personal experience, I’ve seen how lopsided relationships can trigger a host of feels such as: resentments, jealousy, exhaustion and competition, as well as hurt and rejection.
If the support in a relationship, be it a friend, a group, or more intimately as a couple, isn’t mutual, if it is most often one-sided, and you find yourself always being the giver, hoping, balancing, and being extra supportive, or seeking approval from said group(s) or individuals, or if a relationship lacks reciprocity, respect & consistency – therapeutically I have found these situations as a signal to take a deeper look, step back, and stop putting yourself in the line of abuse and ask yourself:
What is the energy under the, e.g., hurt, manipulation, or angry? Are you being dismissed, ignored, criticized and belittled? What is the feeling beneath being restricted from the so-called ‘cool group?’ Why do you think it is “cool?” And then I might ask myself, do I even want to be affiliated? How is this hurting my soul? Is this a source of nurturing or abuse?
I can often feel a wall of resistance, aloofness and guardedness from people, way before it becomes a conflict and yet I don’t always readily listen to my intuition. Human nature is so fickle. I’m learning. This reminds me how important we need personal boundaries to protect us, and to feel safe.
In relationships, respect, caring and support is a mutual exchange. It’s also not linear, and the undercurrents can be rough however, it can’t be a one-sided effort. We don’t need people or groups in our lives who reject, ignore and dismiss who we are. And this can be sensed as deeply covert, or obviously overt and yet when we feel it – then it is our truth.
There’s a sense of freedom when we let go of those who diminish us. I’m much more comfortable holding hands and hearts with down to earth -- real people. Who are intelligent in their being, wise, caring, diverse, giving, and introspective. This to me is the essence of relationships: respect, love and consistency.
Carolyn Riker is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in private practice. She is also an author of three books. Her most recent book is "My Dear, Love Hasn't Forgotten You."