Have you ever been, or are you now, in a relationship where you keep forgiving and forgiving the person, only to continue getting dumped on? This makes you a glutton for punishment.
There are many reasons why we allow ourselves to become gluttons for punishment. Perhaps we are terrified of ending up alone. Perhaps we believe that we don't deserve anything better. Or perhaps we feel like we're stuck in the situation because we honestly can't think of a way out.
There's no reason why anyone should put up with abuse or, at the very least, a person's complete lack of respect for you and taking you for granted. It's time to say goodbye to that life and hello to a new you. What follows are some tips to help you stop being a glutton for punishment so that you can finally kick to the curb the person that continues to "punish" you.
(Note: These tips refer to the kind of behavior that repeats itself. Everyone can have a bad day, get snappy, and take their partner for granted. But if you're experiencing anything on this list often enough for it to truly get you down, then you may need to reevaluate your current relationship.)
Tip #1: Don't Stand For Excessive Criticism.
It's one thing if your partner is trying to help you with, say, the way you cook a certain dish, or the way you handle your finances. Constructive criticism is basically a way of saying, "Hey, it looks like you need a little help with this. Let me show you what you're doing wrong so that you can learn to do it better."
Excessive criticism, however, is nitpicking every little thing you do, from the way you wear your hair ("are you really leaving the house looking like that?") to the treats you pick out at the grocery store ("should you really be eating that? You're going to get fat."). There's a difference between someone trying to help you and acting annoyed by every little thing you do. One is healthy, the other not so much.
Tip #2: Don't Lose Your Originality.
"No, that's not how you play the game. This is how you play the game."
"If you watch more comedies with me, you'll grow to love them."
"Here are all the reasons why your political beliefs are wrong, and why you should believe what I believe."
Do any of these situations sound familiar? Some people will want to essentially make you into their clone. The things that you like that differ from what they like, or if you believe something different from what they believe, they will do everything in their power to show you why their way is the only way.
No, it's not. Don't lose your originality. If we were all the same, the world would be an incredibly boring place, and if your partner can't understand that, then let him or her go out and find someone else to mold. Many of us will change some aspects of ourselves to please our partners, especially in the beginning of the relationship. But if they are things that actually meant something to us, like a deeply held belief, then the relationship won't last long anyway because you'll grow to resent the person for forcing you into something you did not want.
Tip #3: Don't Pay The Blame Game.
You had a long day at work, and the second you manage to drag yourself into the house, your partner's already coming at you. "You left the toilet seat up when you left this morning, and the dog drank out of it!" You apologize and swear to never do it again. But it doesn't matter, because by the end of the night, your partner has already thought of three other things to blame you for - and most of them were actually your partner's fault.
Stop apologizing, and stand up for yourself. Sure, maybe you did leave the toilet seat up, but you don't need to be barraged with it when you walk in the door. A partner who is coming at you all the time, looking to blame you for things, is not someone who is pleasant to be around. Everyone has problems or forgets to do something once in a while. It's all about the approach. You can't be truly relaxed at home if you're always worried about what you're going to be blamed for this time.
Tip #4: Stop Giving…And Giving…And Giving.
Oh, so many of us are people pleasers. Our partner loses his or her job, so we continue to buy them lunches and dinners, rather than eat at home, because we don't want them to miss out. Or we give our partners rides to work or school when it's inconvenient for us because they don't have a car, or access to one, for some reason or another. But would our partners do the same for us?
People pleasers are constantly putting the needs of others over their own. While this may be fine for a mother to do, and even once in a while for partners to do for each other, it is crucial that you put your own needs first every once in a while, or else you're going to burn out.
The next time you go to put yourself out there and do something generous for your partner, ask yourself if your partner would do the same for you if the situation were reversed. If the answer is "no", then you need to stop right now. You're giving so much of yourself to your partner that you're going to have nothing left for yourself. And what's worse is your partner continues to take advantage and doesn't appreciate what you're doing. So why do it?
Tip #5: When You Just Can't Win, Stop Playing.
Your partner asks you to change something about your personality or the way you do things, so you oblige him. Then your partner still isn't happy, telling you that you only changed because he told you to.
You just can't win with a person like this. A person like this will never be satisfied no matter what you do because they're not happy with themselves. Rather than drive yourself crazy, arguing in circles, stop trying to cater to your partner's toxic behavior.
Tip #6: Don't Allow Your Partner To Make You Feel Bad About Yourself.
If your partner is always comparing you to their exes ("Shelly always used to do it this way"), or the partners of their friends ("Steve's wife tried it this way, and she really enjoys it"), this is not healthy behavior. If your partner isn't grateful for the things you already do and is constantly comparing you to people who do things "better" than you do, then perhaps he should spend more time with them and less with you.
Don't settle for someone who doesn't appreciate you. Ever. Life's too short to waste your time on someone who's so sure the grass is greener on the other side.
Tip #7: Demand To Be Heard.
Do you feel like when you have something important that you want to discuss, that your partner just shuts down? You would get better responses talking to the kitchen wall because at least you know the wall is not deliberately trying to ignore you.
Communication is everything, and many of the issues on this list can be avoided or, if ongoing, resolved if the parties would be able to sit down and communicate with each other. The partner who is feeling abused and unappreciated could express as much, and the other partner would say, "Gee, I didn't realize I was making you feel that way. I'm sorry. I'm going to try to change my ways."
Instead, if you can't even discuss with your partner the things that are making you upset, then why waste any more time on this fool? You owe it to yourself to ditch the zero and find someone who will devote the same level of time and attention to you - one that has proven to be more willing to compensate and compromise with you.
Do you find you are often a glutton for punishment? Our BetterHelp counselors can offer you even more tips and advice to help you find the strength to get away from those who are bringing you down so that you can put more energy into lifting yourself up.