I wouldn't be surprised in the least if some of y'all read the title to this and already got a little triggered (check out "Gaslighting, Love Bombing & 5 Other Triggers To Call Out In Your Relationships", if that is indeed the case). Out of all of the past relationship (and situationship) mistakes (or conscious redundant choices) that I've made—and trust me, there have been many—I would have to say that being so unaware of my worth, that I kept trying to prove my value, is right up there in the top three.
What changed me? I won't lie. Spending some time being single (and abstinent) definitely played a huge role. Sometimes, when you're always dealing with some dude, you can find yourself so caught up in their wants and needs that you find yourself tossing yours to the side. Another thing that helped was really letting the definition of the word "prove" sink into my soul and spirit. One is "to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument". Another is "to subject to a test, experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.". While I do truly believe that there is something to be said for taking the time to "establish the truth and genuineness" and "test" someone's character, in a healthy dynamic, no one should be out here trying to prove their worth.
You being God's child, you being a woman, you being truly one of a kind and someone who can bring something to this world in a way that no one else ever has or ever will all play a role in you being of extreme value—with absolutely nothing to prove. It's a given. Please let that sink in.
Good men know this. But some guys out here, oftentimes because they don't love themselves enough, they look for women who act like they don't have a clue about what I just said. As a result, they will take advantage of the ignorance. That's why I'm totally down with quotes like, "Know your worth. Know the difference between what you're getting and what you deserve" (Unknown) and "Love yourself so much that when someone treats you wrong, you recognize it" (Rena Rose). They are reminders that while it isn't cool that some people don't treat others with the honor and respect that they should, that's karma's business. What we need to focus on is lifting our mind, body and spirit up enough that folks like that can't reach us even if they tried.
A great starting point is to check out the following six signs; ones that can help you to see if you've got a little more self-esteem work to do in this area when it comes to how you're (currently) rolling with the man in your life.
1. You’re Trying to Convince Him of What He Should Be Striving to Confirm
I've said in other articles that, upon a significant amount of self-reflection (and journaling), when it comes to most of the men that I've been with, there is a one-liner they each left behind that I still apply to my life to this day. When it comes to my fourth "baby daddy", something he once said that truly resonated was, "Shellie, your problem is that you treat compliments like they're revelations when they should actually be confirmations." Indeed…indeed. It took me YEARS (that is capitalized on purpose because I can't emphasize this point enough) before I realized—and then accepted—that a healthy relationship consists of two people who really and truly see each other. Once they do, it becomes natural for both parties to support their partner through their weaknesses while affirming and even celebrating their strengths. If you're with someone who you're doing both of these things for, but you feel as if you're constantly going out of your way to try and get them to do the same for you, that's low-key toxic.
When you're with your right man, you're not gonna have to try and make him take notice of your beauty, your accomplishments or your overall value. Matter of fact, he will oftentimes notice some bomb things about you that you never really thought about before. Why? Because he feels so blessed to have you in his life that he wants to praise your Creator and His creation as much as possible. He won't have to force it either; it will come naturally to him.
If all of what I just said sounds unrealistic or totally unrelatable, you already have the confirmation you need that you are with someone who doesn't see your worth. In my opinion that also means he doesn't really deserve you either; at least, not right now. But that's just me.
2. The More You Do, the Less He Does
I don't know what it is about a lot of us—and by us, I don't mean "women"; I mean, the human race—that makes us want to go above and beyond for people who tend to not do the same for us in return. It's like there is something within our very being that thinks if we give or love enough, it will miraculously make someone want to be all that we need. The real truth? It's a harsh reality so brace yourself. The truth is if they truly cared about us, it would actually bother them if we were doing more work than they were in the relationship. I know women who always pay for dates, who always come out of pocket to spend time with their men (especially if it's a long-distance relationship) and who even spend money they don't have to pay their man's bills, all the while justifying their actions as "loving someone", when really all they are doing is being used. I mean, who wouldn't turn down a free dinner and a movie, sex on the weekends when they don't have to come out of pocket, or assistance from a person who is willing to help out with their cell phone and cable expenses? Don't mistake someone taking what you're offering for someone truly caring about you as a person. The two are very different.
Money isn't everything. I am a firm believer of that. But if you are the only one putting forth the resources to make a relationship work or last, that's a really high price to pay. Whether you realize it or not, what you're saying is you're not worth someone using their own time, effort, energy and ends in order to spend time with you and get to know you better. You are actually paying someone to be with you. That doesn't prove your worth. That only proves that you're being totally taken for granted (ouch). Oh, and that you're allowing it to happen (bigger ouch).
3. You Find Yourself Compromising Morals, Standards and Principles to Keep Him
If you want to wait until marriage to have sex, you should. If you want to date in order to be courted (you can read more about the differences between the two here), you should. If you want to be with someone who is academically, professionally or financially "on your level", you should. These are just three examples off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure you can tell where I am going with this. One of the reasons why it's so important to embrace a season of singleness before getting into anything "deep" with someone is so you can get clear about who you are and what you want—not just in a relationship but out of life, in general (check out "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'" and "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single"). That way, it will be so much easier to spot who will be a good complement for you and your world.
If you don't make doing this a priority, well…let's just say that there are a lot of men and women out here who, since they have no clue who they are and what they truly desire (let alone what they truly deserve), find themselves doing whatever someone else wants in order to keep that person happy; even if that requires them compromising the core of who they are to the point of suffering or even degrading themselves. Nothing about that is healthy, right or beneficial. Absolutely nothing.
4. You Tend to Focus More on What He Brings to Your Life Than What You Bring to His
There is a consistent theme that transpires, whenever I try to get someone to see that they are in a relationship that is toxic or, at least one that is causing them to settle (which, if they stick around long enough, it tends to become one and the same). Whenever I ask them what's good about their dynamic, they go on and on about all of what the individual they are so caught up in brings into their life. Once I listen to them provide about 10 things, I typically interrupt and ask, "So, how do you benefit theirs?" When I tell you that oftentimes they are completely stumped, it's almost tragic. It's like they are sooooo grateful to be with somebody that they haven't even taken out the time to process that the feeling should be 100 percent mutual. This should so much be the case that they should be able to immediately rattle off a dozen ways they are a blessing because the person they are with makes sure that they know it.
Be careful, sis. If you are only focused on how some guy is making you feel or adding to your life that you don't notice what you're doing for him (or you can't recall him bringing how you bless him to your attention), you could find yourself feeling so indebted that you'll tolerate all kinds of BS. And if he's not worthy of you, he'll let you do it.
5. It’s Been For-e-ver Yet It Seems Like Nothing’s Happening
Several months back, I wrote an article about how long a couple should date before getting married (if marriage is what they ultimately desire to do). According to the experts, it should be no longer than around two years or so. While this conclusion may not be an exact "science" (after all, every couple is different), what shouldn't be up for debate is the undeniable fact that stagnation is a sign of true dysfunction in a relationship. You know what else is? Being the only one who is putting forth the effort to move a relationship forward. Humans are designed to live progressively, in every area of their life. That's why, if you are with someone who is beyond comfortable—to the point of pretty much being complacent—with things not really going anywhere while you keep trying to persuade them that they should, this is another telling sign that you are striving to prove your worth.
I know a lot of different men who have all sorts of goals and aspirations. One thing that every single one has in common is, what they want, they are willing to work their asses off to get and to keep. I'm not sharing this so that you'll play mind games and heart trips on a brotha. I'm saying this to simply remind you that when a man sees value in something or someone, when he truly wants it or them to be a part of his life, he's going to figure out how to make it happen. If he's not doing much at all, well, you know what they say—"Indecision is decision."
6. You Are Liking (and Loving) Yourself Less and Less
Let's end here. A very telling—and extremely underrated—way to know if you're in a good thing with someone else is how you feel about yourself while you're in the relationship. Push past the butterflies you might experience whenever you're with them or even how good the sex may be. Instead, focus on your entire sense of being. Does that person make you feel more capable and confident? Have you found yourself taking more life chances and risks? Have you accomplished more as an individual? Are you emotionally maturing and spiritually evolving? Also, can you honestly say that if the relationship ended today, while it might hurt, you know that all of the growth that has transpired will remain because the experience has made you a better person overall? If you can nod your head "yes", I say "kudos" and "bravo" to you.
But if you actually feel like you've lost a sense of who you are, that you are unhappy—or at least, uncomfortable—more than you are delighted and at peace, but you keep talking yourself into staying anyway, I have to ask you if you are not only trying to prove your worth to ole' boy, but to yourself too.
I don't care if it's a man, a friendship or even a job—if it's good for you, it's going to make you feel good about you. If that's not what's going on, what you're in is way too expensive because it is costing you way too much. Let it go, sis. Let it go…so that you can spend time discovering what you deserve…so that next time, you won't put yourself in the position of having to prove a damn thing.
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