Know your worth.
I've been speaking to a lot of you lately who left long-term relationships because your significant other wasn’t giving you what you needed — mentally and emotionally.
They weren't putting in effort, listening or paying attention; they were basically just coasting along because they'd already "gotten" you, and for some reason didn't understand that they'd need the same effort to keep you.
Perhaps you can relate to the feeling of being anchored down by someone who isn't willing to put the same effort into a relationship or themselves as you are. This is the "ball and chain" feeling of pulling someone along, who either flat out refuses to learn and grow or simply doesn't have any interest in it when you do.
If you've felt this, I'm sorry.
I'm sorry you committed your time, energy and effort to someone who wouldn't give you the same in return.
I'm sorry you had to learn the hard way that being in the wrong relationship will make you feel more alone than being single does.
I'm sorry you gave that person a piece of your life that you can never get back.
But don't get too down on yourself, because in reality you did get something in return. You got perspective. You gained a greater ability to recognize the qualities you do and don't want in a future teammate. You gained the ability to draw your line and say, "I will no longer accept this in my life." Only the person who didn't give you what you needed can provide you with that ability. It's a silver lining.
Of course, nobody is perfect and we can't expect anyone to know our wants and needs without us communicating with them. But that's what relationships are about: communication. The ability not only to speak, but to listen, absorb, and most of all, to act on what we have learned.
Even worse than passive apathy is someone who actually makes you feel badly about yourself.
Someone who is insecure in themselves will try to break you down, too, so you don't have the courage to leave them. They will consistently discourage you or point out faults or flaws. This is unacceptable and you need to get away from this person because they will not change.
I understand some of you feel the need to try to "fix" this person—and work harder to gain their approval so they finally love you for who you are, and stop making you feel bad about yourself—but here is the harsh reality: they will not stop.
They will not stop because these issues have nothing to do with you.
It doesn't matter how much you change or improve to please them because you are not the problem. They are projecting their own insecurities onto you so they don't need to face it in themselves. They go beyond not appreciating you into actually trying to lower your self-esteem. The moment you feel that you need to prove yourself is the moment you need to walk away.
If you are not being appreciated in your relationship, the first step is to ask yourself if you have been honest and open about what you want and need.
Some people simply do not have the emotional intelligence to pick up on your non-verbal cues and they need a little more help. Do not condemn them at first; give them a chance to work on their shortcomings.
If the same problems persist—time after time, promise after promise, and apology after apology—don't ignore this massive red flag waving in your face. This person is the same one you will find behind their desk, working just hard enough not to get fired. When the hammer is about to drop, they try a little harder to stick around, but those are not the times that you can judge them by. It's everyday life and what they do when they don't need to that counts.
You deserve better than the emotional slacker; You deserve better than the person who doesn't have any interest to connect with you on a deeper level; You deserve better than the person who sent their representative on your first few weeks/months worth of dates until you committed to them, and then showed you their true colors, making you feel trapped.
Your self-worth is not determined by how much someone else does or doesn't appreciate you.
That's why it's called self worth ... and you need to stay true to it. You need to set your bar at a certain level and not accept anyone into your life who won't rise up to meet it.
Stay strong, stay positive, and most of all, stay true to yourself. Someone will come along and appreciate you for you.
James Michael Sama is an award-winning Boston based blogger on the topics of dating and relationships, having amassed over 30 million readers in just a year and a half. He writes and speaks on the topics of chivalry, romance, and happiness throughout the country and has been featured repeatedly in news segments, talk shows, and mainstream radio.
This article was originally published at James Mama. Reprinted with permission from the author.