I was chatting with an ex-boyfriend recently, just catching up on where life has taken us since we last spoke 10 years ago, when he mentioned that our timing was bad when we had dated way back when. My recollection was way different. He was a total jerk who stomped on my heart. Forgive and forget, sure, but I don’t ever really forget.
Interestingly, I am able to take responsibility for a part of it 10 years later. Why? Because I allowed him — and other boyfriends or guys I dated — to treat me disrespectfully. What does that mean? It means I didn’t put my foot down or even run the other way when I didn’t like how they were treating me — not calling when they said they would, canceling on dates, not being totally forthright, not giving me the commitment I desired, etc., — therefore I allowed it. I can see now that many of the experiences I had could have been prevented had I demanded respect. Sure, I expected respect, but clearly not enough. It must be demanded and in this case, actions (walking away from the situation for good) speak louder than words (saying “you’re being disrespectful,” but not leaving, and therefore allowing it).
Perhaps it was an age thing; I was in my 20s. Or perhaps it’s a gender thing. Or maybe it was the type of guy I was going for and the hope that I could tame a bad boy. Likely it was a combination of all of the above. Many young women are so afraid of being dumped, or being alone, or not having the guy come running after you as you walk out the door, or we place our value in who we are dating, that we don’t say anything. We hope it was a fluke, or a one-off, or that they will grow to respect you more.
The truth is that we need to respect ourselves — men and women of all ages — more, and value our worth more, in order to understand why certain behavior is not acceptable and to walk away. Keep walking away until someone comes along who respects you, values you and believes you are worthy.