Couple Spotlight: Relationship Help from Couples Just Like You
Today’s Topic: Learning from your relationship mistakes.
To say that Lenora is a giving person is an understatement. She is the first person her friends and family call when they’re in need. “I’ve always been this way, and while I feel good about this part of myself, it’s gotten me in trouble with men in the past.” What Lenora is referring to is a history of relationships with men who have taken advantage of her emotional generosity.
“I couldn’t see this pattern at first, but with the help of my best friend, as well as my therapist, I started to realize that I had a really strong need to please others as a way of feeling good about myself…I thought that I must be valuable if someone totally needed me.” So to feel worthy, Lenora often found herself in relationships with men who weren’t emotionally whole—she was drawn to emotionally troubled men because she found some modicum of self-esteem in trying to fix them.
But, as you might imagine, this pattern never served her.
The men she ended up with (the “walking wounded” as she now calls them) only took from her without ever giving back emotionally. And the more she gave, the more they hungrily consumed. This, of course, took an emotional toll on Lenora. And she never found the elusive self-worth and peace she hoped for in her relationships—in fact, she often felt worse (taken advantage of).
Over time, understanding this pattern helped free Lenora from its unrelenting grip. She became increasingly aware of her emotional Achilles heel. So whenever she felt emotionally drawn to a particular man, she needed to slow down, hit the pause button on her feelings that “this is the one!” and take stock of what was behind her attraction and feelings. And just as important, she began to claim her own self-worth without needing to be in a relationship with someone who needed her.
And now Lenora happily reports that several years ago she met and married an “emotionally giving” man and she couldn’t be happier. But for this to happen, she first needed to become aware of the relationship patterns that weren’t serving her, and that’s the lesson she would like to share—that there are always important growth-lessons to be cultivated from our relationship mishaps.
Thanks, Lenora, for sharing your story with us!
What are the relationship patterns from your past that you can use to better understand yourself?
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Until next time,
Dr. Rich Nicastro