I was reading a research paper by Brene Brown, who has authored various books on the subjects of vulnerability, boundaries and shame. Brown describes how she sought an answer to the question “Is everyone really doing the best they can?” And, the “story I’m telling myself is” … which is more relevant in terms of the relationships we had and have in the present and the patterns and triggers we have.
Relationships are like plants, they need constant care and nurturance to thrive and survive. If one person has given up trying or just stopped investing themselves with you – while continuing to invest themselves in their other relationships, there’s little or no chance, the relationship will survive.
No matter what story is being given to you, the truth is the person is still choosing to nurture and care for his other relationships and not invest any time in you.
I understand that labels are not for everyone. If you have been in a serious relationship and your partner has chosen not to take things ahead because of xyz pretext, it is not going to work. Relationship expert Terri Colle explains, if all the planning is being done with or for other people, and never with you, under the pretext of living in the present, those relationships are simply on a higher priority than you ever will. Additionally, if your partner has his family’s encouragement to keep it casual and examples are loosely thrown in as to how everybody should “just live in”, you’ll never be at a space where there’s any scope of a future stability or commitment coming from him to make it official with you.
Couples who respect each other and are in a meaningful relationship, will talk of their future together. It has more to do with finances or building a house together. It is about sharing your dreams, fears and knowing that you will always have the support of your partner. It’s important to have clarity about where you are headed. Feelings aren’t a finite resource nor are our actions, so it’s not as if we have to compete for our share of a person’s pot.
It is easily possible for your partners to love their family, their children, their friends etc and love you as well. Each relationship is different and you shouldn’t have to compete —when it’s implicitly understood and communicated that two people are in a romantic relationship, this in itself defines the priorities because to be in a mutually fulfilling loving relationship, you each prioritise the other and focus on creating a strong foundation. Unless of course, a complete lack of commitment has been specified earlier on in the relationship, then it’s another matter altogether.
When romantic priorities are clear, no one is inferior or superior and there isn’t a disparity between what each person thinks that they’re there for. There shouldn’t be a need to give unnecessary explanations, or make your partner feel guilty of the time you spend with them. You have to understand and know, that eventually if you are serious, you will be spending your life with your romantic partner not with your children or parents. And, if this is still up for debate, this is not the relationship that you think it is and you must step back and seriously question why you’re trying to make something serious with somebody whose priority for instance, might be to continue to feel guilty about wanting to invest himself in the rest of his relationships other than you and maybe never have to feel vulnerable and committed in a long term relationship.
Your acceptance of someone choosing to include or exclude you in their family dynamics basis their moods is a big red flag. They clearly believe they can disrespect you. And you in turn are saying, “I don’t think that we’re equals. I don’t think that I deserve love, care, trust and respect yet, but if I show you all of the ways in which I’m willing to put you above and beyond me, maybe one day you will decide that I’m worth being decent to”