An empowered person takes the time to get in touch with what he really feels and really needs. And he tells the other person.
Being a recovered codependent– or shall I say, more mindful of my codependent triggers–I understand the importance of having a standard. No where is it more necessary than in romantic relationships. With the euphoria of a new love and the emotional attachment that follows, it is so very important to have standards and to hold to them. It is so important in fact that Chapter 9 of Steve Harvey’s bestselling book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, is devoted to this very subject.
From his personal experience, he shares how his now-wife Marjorie made her standard clear to him after one of his female friends called, probably one time too many. She quietly packed her bags while he was on the phone. Before exiting she said, “I’m not trying to be anybody’s plaything or anybody’s woman on a string. I don’t think you’re ready for what I have to offer. I got these kids, I have a good life, and I want a man who will come in and complete my family.” The rest is history.
I don’t want to give you the false expectation that by having standards, your love interest will do as Steve Harvey did—snap his phone in half. He might not. He might pout. He might withdraw. He might retaliate. He might hold up two fingers and say, “Deuces.” These behaviors sadly are the triggers for most codependents. We hate hurting someone we care about and we hate our efforts to be spurned.
“When you feel the time is right and you are developing strong feelings then bring up a conversation about the future and ask him where he thinks you are heading,” writes Dr. Towanna Freeman in her article, Where Is This Relationship Headed? We codependents tend to just go with the flow, thinking that this tells our partner we aren’t high maintenance or high drama. Still Dr. Towanna advises, “Don’t let anyone string you along in a relationship that has no future. Sit down with your partner and have the discussion so that you know exactly where you stand.”
This may be difficult. Our anxiety over trying to look out for his feelings, trying not to appear weak or desperate, trying to block out our own stinking thinking may distort what we hear. I call it denial and authenticity having an argument. We want so much for the person we are interested in or in relationship with to be right. If he says his loves you, we want to give him a chance to prove it. So we set up situations for him to be successful. When he fails, we tell ourselves that at least he does this or at least he doesn’t do that. Or we decide that we should behave differently. We make concessions. When that doesn’t change things, we blame them.
After all, if he’d stop or she’d stop, our lives would be just fine. When we do that, however, we change the equality of the relationship. Instead of seeing them as a partner or a friend, we see them as a threat and we assume the posture of the victim. An empowered person takes the time to get in touch with what he really feels and really needs. And he tells the other person. Certainly, we hear the other person out because their reality and experience is just as real to them as ours is to us. We don’t slip back into denial because of it though. We invite the other person into figuring out how we can make sure both our needs are met. I believe that the preservation of both person’s sense of dignity is critical.
Suzette Hinton obtained a degree in Human Services Technology specializing in Substance Abuse Counseling and a subsequent certification with honors as a Life and Mentor Coach.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.