After I split up with my ex, I realised that I had a problem with boundaries. I was only 17 when we got together, some people are quite worldly wise at that age, but I was not. He never treated me with much respect, or even made me feel particularly special. I remember asking him once, after I saw another girl dressed provocatively, do you wish I were her? And he said yes!
Then there was the cheating, I found conversations on his computer between him and other women we knew. When I confronted him, he’d always be in floods of tears and would come up with all kinds of excuses for his behaviour. I fell for it and even felt sorry for him… As I got older, I realised that was just who he was.
When someone tells you who they are, you should listen. He cheated on me and went behind my back many more times. I regret wasting so much time on him, but the relationship taught me that actions mean more than words.
And when you realise this, you start noticing it everywhere, people say all kinds of things, but their behaviour doesn’t always match up. Sometimes people have an image of themselves that just doesn’t reflect reality.
Beware people who tell you how great they are
In a similar example, I met a guy at a local group who I got on with. I told him I’d only joined the group to make some friends, I wasn’t looking for a relationship, which he seemed fine with. He told me a lot of things about himself. Such as how he wasn’t an angry or argumentative person – he didn’t have the energy for that.
A few weeks later he got into an argument with another group member who he felt was behaving inappropriately, when he could have just told the group leader what was happening. That was one red flag. He also told me that he respected my boundaries, but then kept trying to hug me and repeatedly sent me messages when I asked for some space. Past me might have given him the benefit of the doubt, but I put myself first and cut off contact with him. He showed me who he was, and I listened.
It’s important to know what you want out of your relationships with people. Figure out what your dealbreakers are and what’s important to you. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable you don’t have to put up with it, you don’t have to spend your precious time or energy on them, because you’re worth so much more than that.
Nice people don’t need to tell you how great and nice they are, because they just are!