While some people can immediately identify a person with whom they would never be compatible, many suffer from low self-esteem and end up changing their own personalities, wants and actions to fit their partner. It is true that almost any successful relationship requires a certain amount of flexibility and compromise; but if a person is required to alter themselves greatly in order to maintain the relationship often something is wrong. The changes that occur in many of these cases can be so subtle and over such a great length of time, that often the people changing are unaware of how different they have become.
In order to understand how a person can be involved in such a relationship, it is important to remember that many of the people who experience this had a problem before the relationship began:
Insecurity: Many people in our society suffer from one form of insecurity or another; abnormal physical traits; lack of proper education; difficulty with communication and poor support network are just a few of the causes of such feelings. In order to have a strong enough sense of self that a person would never allow themselves to be overhauled by another person they must, for the most part, like who they are. The image that many people have of themselves is a very poor one and this makes it easy for others to prey upon their weakness. Unfortunately, in many cases, the addition of a stronger partner allows the more insecure person to hang all of their self esteem on the fact that their partner would have them; this is not a healthy way to depend on another person for support and in most cases will lead to disaster as it does not usually help to create strength and confidence.
Psychological Damage: A problem that often stems from an abusive relationship, a damaged psyche makes for an excellent weakness for others to prey on. We have heard this referenced many times in society by referring to the ugly duckling syndrome i.e. a person who once thought of them self as unattractive and became so used to dealing with this poor self image that when they became more attractive, by society’s standards, they did not act in the normal way an attractive person would. This by many people’s definition is an attractive person who retains a poor self image; therefore the person will have lower standards when it comes to dating. Many different types of trauma can cause a person to feel unworthy of attention and react in an unhealthy way when it received; this makes a perfect breeding ground for people who are looking for a person that they can control in a relationship; because they lack the self esteem to refuse.
Not all one-sided relationships are obvious or extreme, in fact more often the problems are numerous but very subtle. This can create an underlying feeling that something is wrong with the relationship, though many people struggle to understand exactly what that problem is. There are a few large and regular parts of relationships that are reoccurring and therefore when dominated can create an ongoing problem:
Where you live: In relationships where one person is dominant evidence of this imbalance can be seen in the home they share. The more dominant person will often choose everything from wall paint to major appliances; none of which seem to reflect the weaker person’s personality. To assume that dcor is an indication of such a relationship would not be completely accurate as in some cases one person does not have strong feelings about their belongings; however even those with little or no interest often have some reflection of their personality in their home.
What you do: Often in a one-sided relationship most or all of the activities the couple participates in revolve around one person. This allows for even greater destruction of the original, weaker partner and ultimately a great path to depression. Enduring this kind of change is difficult because not only does the weaker partner watch their own interests dissolve; but often they do not feel as close to the person they love as they cannot share their true desires with them.
Conversation: Whether you’re out with friends or staying at home in a relationship of this kind one partner rarely communicates what they are thinking or feeling. Often friends or relatives will notice when these changes occur because they can see a person retreating not just into themselves, but into their partner’s thoughts and feelings. Often the weaker partner will only speak when discussing issues that their partner finds interesting, giving up entirely on what they once find enjoyable or exciting.
If you have felt that any of these situations apply to your own relationship review this quick checklist to see some of the most typical points of view from those who observe this kind of behavior:
1.I always or often speak only about the things my partner is interested in.
2.I always or often only talk about my partner.
3.All or most of the things I do for fun I do with my partner.
4.All or most of things I do for fun are because of my partner.
5.If I look around my home I see little or no sign of my own taste.
6.When spending money on frivolous items they are usually for my partner.
7.My partner does most of the talking when we are together.
8.I do not often tell my partner how I feel.
9.My partner does not usually notice when something is bothering me.
10.My partner never or does not often compliment me.
11.I never feel happy/I only feel happy when my partner is giving me attention.
12.I have little or no interests outside of my relationship.
13.My partner does not often or never gives me gifts that are only for me.
14.My friends and/or family think that I have changed a lot since entering my relationship for the worse.
15.My other relationships have weakened since entering the one with my partner.
16.When asked what I want I usually look at my partner.
17.I no longer resemble who I was when I met my partner.
18.I tend to think of my partner before I ever think of myself.
19.I dress in the way my partner prefers even if I do not.
20.I no longer know what makes me, me.
If you find that any of these statements are true it might be a sign that either you need change your relationship, or you need to break it off. Enduring this kind of life is not healthy nor does it have much of a chance of making you happy. It is possible that your partner did not mean to become the dominant presence in your relationship and if brought to their attention they might be eager to help you become a stronger person. There are many different ways in which a person who finds themselves in this situation can change things, try to figure out what works best for you and take the necessary steps to make your life better.
Trust those who know you best: Outside of your relationship it is good to have at least one person with whom you can be honest and trust completely. Asking this person how they view your relationship and the changes that have occurred during the time you’ve been in it can be an excellent way to gain the insight required for change.
Perfection Reflection: Write down what you believe the basics are for an ideal relationship and see how they compare with your current one. Though no relationship is perfect and they often take a great deal of work, this should be equally divided amongst both people, not hoisted onto one.
Self Image: Begin an activity or project that has nothing to do with your partner, but is something that you are interested in. As this interest grows in something outside of your relationship you might find a little of the old you returns. Learn to like who you are and the wonderful qualities that make you unique; this may be difficult at first and might even require some changing (again,) but in the end you must be able to like yourself if you hope to remain who are.
Speak with your partner about how you feel: Whether or not you believe you can make your relationship work it is often helpful to tell your partner how you feel about the situation. Though you might not find the support you hoped for it is advisable to know where you partner stands on making you happy. Give your partner the opportunity to help you feel better about yourself and your relationship, or the very least know that they are a large part of how you ended up feeling the way that you do.
Without taking steps to reconstruct yourself in happier, healthier way you may never be able to enjoy life in or out of your relationship. Though it can be difficult to muster the courage to change your life, the knowledge that a happier you could exist might give you the strength need to take action. Good luck and much strength to all of you who are brave enough to take on the challenge.