This happened to be a very vital lesson I learned from my past experience and I truly believe it’s a lesson we all should live by in our relationships.
So let’s begin…
It was early on in my working career and I’d just moved into a new flat in the city with a couple of friends. My friends were both in relationships with great guys, but often I was left feeling like the fifth wheel.
One night, my friend’s boyfriend brought a workmate around, Dave*
He was interesting, exotic, sexy, musically talented, and had an irresistible edge of vulnerability. And he wanted me. ME.
Dave got my number from my friend’s boyfriend that same night, and we started chatting the next day.
I hadn’t been in a serious relationship for some time, was quite lonely, and boy did I fall hard and fast.
I was so addicted to these feelings of being loved and needed by someone that I overlooked all of the things which should have been blaring at me like big red warning signs, right from the start.
Like the fact that he wanted to jump straight into bed with me. Like the fact that we had few common interests. Like the fact that he struggled to clean up after himself.
But, stuck in my happy haze, I paid attention only to the good things: all of the things he did to make me laugh, the flowers on my birthday, the picnics at the park, the comfort of having someone to hold me close at night and wake up to in the morning.
The first couple of times Dave met my friends, he smiled his way through the introductions easy enough, but then didn’t make any effort to strike up a conversation with anyone unless they directly asked him something.
And try they did. My friends definitely gave him more than a chance, a couple even found some things to laugh with him about. But they also sure were noticing how he would barely bother to make any extra effort, cling to my side most of the time, and try to drag me away early as soon as he got bored.
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A lot of times, when Dave just flatly refused to come to social events, I would ineptly make excuses for him not being able to make it, even though I knew he was probably at home playing on his computer or his instruments (yes he did play computer games).
Dave was struggling to hold a steady job, and it was through my help and encouragement that he finally managed to study and pass some important tests which allowed him to find further employment. But instead of receiving appreciation, I would get told that I was ‘nagging’ or that he ‘couldn’t be bothered right now’.
Although Dave was always keen to see me, often he would invite me round only to at some point become distracted playing his instruments or with something on the computer, and would leave me to do my own thing or hang with his flatmates – at which point I may as well have left and gone to do something with my own friends.
But when some of my friends openly raised concerns to me about Dave, and I learned of others talking behind my back about him, I reacted with anger and hurt.
I tried to rationalize it in my head and put it down to my friends being jealous, too possessive of my time, or just not understanding what Dave was really like. I was thinking ‘Shouldn’t they be supportive of anyone I choose to go out with, as my friends?’
I let myself become distanced from them, and on the occasions we did get together, Dave was hardly ever mentioned. Often, it felt like the big elephant in the room.
My family, also, never felt like Dave was right for me. Although they would be polite when he was around, sometimes they would also raise concerns, and even make the occasional joke at his expense in front of me, which really hurt.
They felt like Dave, unlike myself, didn’t really have goals in life, and that I was doing a lot more for him than he was for me.
I would hear all the time that I was too good for him.
I didn’t realise just how much at the time, but it was a massive load on my shoulders going around making excuses for Dave to everyone, trying to make him out as a better boyfriend than he really was.
A couple of times, his own family even told me he wasn’t treating me well enough.
In light of all this, I can’t believe I stayed.
But the worst part is, not only did I let this man treat me less than I deserve, I also let him break my heart.
One day, after being together for over a year, he came round to my place as planned, then proceeded to dump me out of the blue – telling me it ‘just wasn’t working’. He left me shocked and in tears, then proceeded to remove our relationship and delete all of our photos together on Facebook the exact same day.
Ouch. I felt like the ground had been ripped from under me – the pain, shock and humiliation I was feeling was overwhelming.
My friends, family, and even his family were equally as shocked. I found out that I was lucky enough to have friends and family who cared about me enough to immediately come to my side and support me through the break up, despite having never liked Dave.
Although this time was excruciating to get through, by the time Dave started calling me a month later begging for me back, I had finally gained the strength and clarity of mind to tell him there was no hope in hell of that happening.
*Name has been changed for privacy purposes*
Now, as you can tell, there was a whole jar of mistakes I made along the way in this relationship.
But my BIGGEST MISTAKE in all of this?
Not listening to the judgments of my family and friends.
Let’s be clear: your family and friends will not disapprove of your partner just for the hell of it.
They love you. The KNOW YOU. They do want you to be happy and in a relationship.
They know what you want, and what you need. They’ve seen you succeed, they’ve seen you fail, and everything else in between. They’ve seen you grow up, they’ve seen you happy, and they’ve seen you in pain.
They don’t want you to be in pain.
They don’t want you to change who you are.
They don’t want to stop seeing you.
They don’t want you to accept any less than you deserve.
Your friends and family just want you to be with a great guy who is right for you. Someone who treats you well, shares some common interests with you, has goals in life and treats them with friendliness and respect.
And it is never worth losing a great friendship over some guy who isn’t even worth your time.
So ladies, please, don’t make the same mistake I did: Always listen to your family and friends at all time.
The only time I would advise being varied of this is when you don’t have a good relationship yourself with your family, or perhaps are already going through a rocky time with a friend.
In this case, it is likely that any judgments they make about your partner right now are going to be clouded by the negative feelings in your own relationship, so may not be reliable.
And remember, friends always should have your best interests at heart. So if you have a friend who judges your partner unfairly because of their own personal issues, such as being jealous, not actually wanting you to be happy and in a relationship, or being too snobby, then they probably aren’t worth having as a friend.
I am talking here about when they are actually judging him unfairly though (choosing to dislike him when he really is a great guy who is treating you well).
To conclude the story, I’m happy to tell you that I am currently in a relationship with an amazing guy who treats me like I’m the most special thing on earth – AND is very well liked by my friends and family.
And I can’t tell you how much easier and more fulfilling my life is because of this.
If you’re interested in working on your conversational skills,
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This video is put together to help and IMPROVE anyone’s social abilities, no matter what level they’re at.
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