Giving so much for so little?

Every relationship requires give-and-take between two people, this simply means both parties investing in each other and both getting something back from the relationship. However if one person is doing all the giving and the other just takes, then it isn’t a relationship… at least not a fulfilling one. Have you ever gone above and beyond for a partner to realise that they’re not willing to try as hard as you are? Sadly, this dynamic can have disastrous effects on you.

When you’re naturally a giving person, you might end up falling into the trap of being in a one-sided relationship. There’s been times when I’ve had relationships start off really well (of it does, that’s why they call it the “honeymoon” phase), then suddenly I feel like I’m “carrying” the weight of the relationship, putting in way more effort in terms of resource (time, money, emotional investment). I’ve tackled this situation in two different ways; firstly by raising my concerns and waiting for things to get better, or secondly by “letting it slide” in hopes that things will improve (I really don’t recommend this!) Regardless of how I dealt with one-sided relationships, the end result was that I had to walked away. One thing I’ve learned overtime is: No matter how difficult you think it’ll be, you must let go of anything that doesn’t serve you/make you happy — relationships, people, jobs, etc.

How do we know when we’re in a one-sided relationship?

It sounds like a question with an obvious answer but when people are emotionally invested, they can lose sight of what’s actually happening. Out of nowhere those rose tinted glasses just fall onto our eyes, blur our vision and we start falling for “potential” rather that what’s presented in front of us. According to Kelly Campbell, a professor of psychology and human, you should look out for these signs:

ALL THE EFFORT IS COMING FROM YOU
When you find yourself doing most or all of the cooking, cleaning, planning dates, making all the romantic gestures, it’s an indication that the relationship is unequal. Make a mental note (or an actual note) on how time is spent, including who does what. This will give you a better understanding of the extent of the one-sidedness.

LACK OF QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
Everyone has busy schedules. We all need to allocate time towards career aspirations, family and friends, our romantic partners, and ourselves. Often it’ll feel like a challenge to get the balance right, but if you’re frequently suggesting “date night” to your partner and they show no interest or put it off for another time… this isn’t a great sign. A serious lack of “quality time” together can chip away at the partnership’s foundation, and ultimately compromise the level of happiness you feel when you’re together.

THEIR CALENDAR TAKES PRIORITY
If you’re constantly moving your commitments around or waiting until you know if your partner is available before you make other plans, then yes, this is another sign. You’ll feel like everything else is more important than you which shouldn’t be the case. If your partner only wants to see you when it suits them, then this displays imbalance in the relationship.

MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOUR PARTNER’S BEHAVIOUR
When you’re defending someone’s bad behaviour, it simply suggests that you’re compromising and sacrificing too much… of your dignity! Sadly we’ll lie to ourselves because we don’t want to face reality, or the truth is unbearable. Please don’t fool yourself by making excuses for them, your partner should be showing you the love and respect you deserve.

Well, I don’t know about you, but re-reading my post thus far makes me feel attacked and pretty upset! 😩☹️ It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that I’ve gone through the above bullshit, but I’m also thankful to God that I saw the light and found the courage to leave. If anyone is going through this current scenario, I urge you to read on and really think about your happiness above anything.

Before you decide to walk away…

One thing I go on about all the time is communication. Effective communication also involves the ability to listen to each other, understand and compromise. The issue with one-sided relationships is that more often that not, it’s just one partner initiating the talks. So when you do bring up the discussion, your partner may not respond favourably to the “problem.” Researchers have called this ‘demand-withdrawal’ which means one partner is initiating a discussion or requesting a change, while the other withdraws from the conversation. It’s always worth expressing how you feel before throwing in the towel. If your partner cares, then they’ll look to improve the balance and put in more effort, but if they don’t change after you’ve shared your concerns, then the partnership is likely not a good fit and you should consider moving on.

If the feelings are mutual, effort will be equal

Romantic relationships can be influential in many aspects of our lives, so when we stay in a unfulfilling relationship it can significantly impact our health and well-being. Balance in a relationship is so important, let’s use a set of scales as an analogy — when one side is putting in a lot more than the other, it will eventually tip and collapse.

Vulnerability: why we need to lean into discomfort.

Many people (myself included) find it incredibly difficult to be vulnerable, and judging from the numerous articles I’ve read, it seems to be a common fear. When we were young, we were carefree, rarely phased by anything; but over time factors such as our upbringing, our environment, our romantic relationships, our social circles gave us different experiences — both good and bad. Unfortunately at some point in life, people will hurt and disappoint us, so we end up building walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. At the same time, we’re unable to appreciate close relationships and intimacy… vulnerability is simply a double-edged sword. 

As humans we’re hardwired to connect with others. We live in families, we build families, we work in teams, we love as couples and thrive in friendships. It’s a scientific fact that our well-being is dependent on our connections. Yet more than ever, I’m witnessing more loneliness, more broken relationships, more disconnection… but what’s causing all of this? Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to new experiences, new people, and getting comfortable with uncertainty. It’s bloody terrifying but worth it, I trust that it creates many beautiful outcomes once you choose to receive with an open heart . The fact is, vulnerability is necessary. You can’t build genuine connections without it, but somehow society has turned it into a weakness.

I find it challenging expressing my emotions, I’m getting better but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’ve previously been told that I’m cold or dead inside, that my wall is ridiculously high, and that I always keep people at arm’s length. Yeah… this is partially true (I don’t think I’m completely dead inside). In relationships, I try my best to communicate my feelings but sometimes I feel like it’s forced or I get extremely uncomfortable. When I’m hurt or upset, I tend to either shut down or choose to let that person go rather than let them in because it’s “safer” this way. I guess the good thing is that I recognise my issue and I’m making a conscious effort to improve on it.

Part of my resistance to vulnerability came from the fact that I’ve had toxic relationships, I’ve been a toxic person and I’ve attracted toxic people. Some of my relationships were very unhealthy, then there were others where I realised a compatibility issue. I don’t wish to relive any of these experiences but it’s hard to ignore the woes, and the fact that there’s an obvious recurring pattern of my relationships breaking down again and again. After tolerating a load of nonsense, I began viewing my “failed” relationships as a warning sign to pull back, build my wall even higher and go in fully armoured ready for the next “battle” (if there were to be a next). Clearly this was the wrong way to look at things. Relationships should never be seen as a war (and one that I wanted to win every single time)… perhaps I just got used to the toxicity. Anyway I eventually changed my mindset and saw it for what it was — simply a mismatch of people, a redirection, a learning curve and a step towards personal growth.

“You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results.”

If you’re someone who also struggles with embracing vulnerability. I feel you. Being vulnerable is an ongoing process that we fine-tune over time. So as we take small steps together and slowly lean into the discomfort, here are some reminders on how being vulnerable can actually enhance our lives.

DEVELOPING EMPATHY FOR OTHERS
When I’m pissed off, it’s highly likely the other party will feel my wrath. However this usually lasts for a very short period; so when I’m calm again, my compassion kicks in and I try to see things from their perspective… even if I think they’re in the wrong! It’s so easy to judge people harshly, especially when pride and ego gets in the way, but learning to relax and allow ourselves to move out of our comfort zone plays a massive part in being vulnerable. We’ve all been guilty of getting so caught up in our own lives that we forget the world doesn’t revolve around our needs.

BE AT PEACE WITH YOUR PAST
Those who aren’t scared of being vulnerable have already made peace with negative memories from their past. We’ve all made bad decisions and mistakes but we can’t keep storing our energy there. Dwelling on the past means we’re not fully present. Likewise, we shouldn’t worry too much about the future. Living in the moment and appreciating all the amazing moments right now is what we need to be focusing on.

I AM WHO I AM
By accepting our qualities and our “flaws”, by feeling comfortable in our own skin; we’ll learn to accept all the things that make us special and unique. Being confident and our genuine self also allows us to attract the right kind of people in our lives.

BUILDING EMOTIONAL INTIMACY
Speaking of being your true self — vulnerability creates greater emotional (and physical) intimacy. Sure, this is relevant to romantic relationships but it’s just as important to drop your guard around friends and family as well. It’s what creates a deeper sense of love and understanding. For real connections to flourish we have to be brave enough to reveal all of our layers.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Brené Brown 

What impact has technology had on love and romance?

The evolvement of technology has changed our lives, it’s been said that society has become too reliant upon technology. With all sorts of information readily available at our fingertips; from weight loss, education, investing, cooking, travel, sport — technology is at the forefront of everything we do, so it’s no surprise we struggle to put our devices down! Even our approach towards dating and relationships, we’re in a world where we’re able to speak to multiple potentials and “test drive” them all before one is selected. Technology has not only altered how we communicate and connect, but also how we feel.

Dating in the digital age means you can pull out your phone and find a date faster than it would take to get glammed up for a night out. We’re living in a time where these technological advancements has made our lives easier and faster… but has it improved our chances of finding love and romance? Personally, while I can’t say for a fact that chivalry is dead, I can say that technology has introduced a few obstacles when attempting to forge genuine, deeper connections.

According to a recent study by eHarmony, 67% of UK adults crave more romance in their lives. By nature most people want to find the ultimate form of human connection, the kind that lasts a lifetime. People want love and they want to be loved in return. So it’s always a breath of fresh air whenever when I hear of a virtual romantic success story. However it seems there are far more stories on the trials and tribulations of why people have suddenly become so inept at making relationships last. Have we run out of time for romance? Has technology made people lazy in love? Is technology actually bringing us closer together or driving us apart? I have so many questions and not enough answers… nonetheless in today’s blog post, I’ve gathered together a few points (benefits and drawbacks) on how the Information Age has changed the dating and relationship realm.

DON’T WORRY, THERE’S PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA!
Ah the old cliché… typically used as words of encouragement after a breakup. However for newly singletons, there really are plenty of fish in the sea! These days it’s super easy to sign up to a dating site, and within minutes you’ll find yourself a pile of matches waiting to be swiped through. Online dating is great as it gives us access to many more potential partners outside of our social circle.

ERM, THERE’S TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA!
And while it’s great to have choice, too many options can be overwhelming. Research has shown that individuals who have a larger pool of potential partners were more likely to change their minds and choose a someone else to speak to within a week! There is also the aspect of people being overly judgemental, if it’s not the off-putting photos then it’s their inability to write about themselves well or it’s their terrible grammar/spelling. Regardless of what the minor “issue” is, pickiness can be problematic, thus humans have become easily disposable.

GREAT FOR BUSY BEES
For those who have less time to dedicate to meeting people, technology could be the very thing that’ll help you meet your ideal partner when it’s most convenient for you. A bit of downtime before going bed or perhaps during a less busier week… finding romance is just a couple clicks away.

SO NEAR YET SO FAR
For those in a long distance relationship, technology is a Godsend! Gone are the days when people had to wait for a long time before seeing or hearing from their partners. Being able to exchange video calls and text messages on a daily basis means long distances relationships have become stronger than before. 

BE SPECIFIC
If you want to meet someone with similar core values, faith, interests, background and preferences, there’s most certainly a dating app out there designed to fit your requirements. No matter if you’re after a quick hookup, a threesome, or an affair… you name it, the digital dating realm has got it. Did you know there’s a dating app for Vegans, for Vegetarians, for women who are really into men facial hair, for people who believe in the magic of astrology and obsessed with horoscopes, for farmers, for bacon lovers, for sci-fi lovers, and my all time favourite — the SugarD app! 😆👴🏻

ATTENTION ADDICTION
We all want validation in some form — for each match, each like, each message, we’re bound start feeling ourselves a bit! As the rush of excitement happens, the dopamine our brain produces spikes, so it’s not uncommon for people to get addicted to these “hits” and constantly check in for more. Sometimes people aren’t actually interested in the “match”, they just like what it does for their ego boost.

ROMANCE TAKES TIME… TEXTING TAKES SECONDS
Communication is now easier than ever before, but there’s an argument that it has also ruined romance. Emojis are no love letters, and text messages is where most people feel their partners are falling short. It’s seen as a bare-minimum form for communication, and unsurprisingly isn’t valued as highly as a phone call. Quick messages are great for firming up Friday night dinner plans, but for expressing heartfelt sentiments? Not so much.

FEEDING THE ANXIOUS MIND
Living in a fast-paced digital world where we can get instant responses, some individuals rely heavily on the timings and meanings of each message to get a better understanding of how the other person feels or where they stand. Trust me, sometimes it’s not that deep! Then you have the presence of social media… a tempting space for those who like to play detective — the element of “stalking” allows people to get to know someone before even meeting! Yikes! No matter what stage you’re at in a relationship, having the ability to keep tabs on the other person on a daily basis not only creates worry and anxiety for yourself, but it can also become an obsessive, unhealthy habit.

AVOIDANCE OF REAL LIFE INTERACTION
Technology tends to be used as a means to avoid having real-life conversations, and it occurs more often than you’d think! When it comes to uncomfortable conversations, people would rather take the passive-aggressive approach, making statements which they wouldn’t dare make face-to-face. Or in some cases, completely dismiss everything and “ghost” 👻

I’M SORRY… WHO ARE YOU?
You can talk to someone for days, weeks, or months before meeting someone face-to-face. And the problem here is hardly an earth-shattering revelation… people lie on their online dating profiles! Okay not everyone lies or is purposely trying to mislead you but when we get to know someone for a significant period of time from behind our screens, we end up basing our connection on feelings that haven’t been reinforced by in-real-life experiences — thus we don’t get to see the full picture of who they are. There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone and developing an attachment to them online, but it’s always best to solidify your relationship face-to-face.

Conclusion

When we look at how technology has shaped the dating landscape, the overarching view is pretty negative. However based on some of my points above, I believe technology for some has created a new etiquette to romance and has enabled us to cast our nets a lot wider, opening opportunities to meet people we’d otherwise would not have met.

I think there are other factors we need to consider when putting our thoughts across. The generation we fall in will cause a difference of opinion. For a true traditionalist, dating apps might sound daunting. Once upon a time, courtship meant focusing on one person, picking up the telephone and asking them on a date… and if you’re in luck, you might be greeted with a bunch of flowers on the first meet. Today, you simply drop a quick message which will go along the lines of: “Hey you good? Free tomorrow at 7pm? Wanna have dinner?” — then hope for the best. If that fails then there’s always option 2, 3 or 4!

The popularity of technology has helped us create many connections, but these generally lack quality and substance. Communication is so fast and easy now that it’s removed the ‘thrill of the chase’ and killed romance somewhat. It seems as though the “games”, the ego boosts, the non-committal attitudes/behaviours, and the time-saving efficient nature of modern dating has become more important than actually finding a partner.