Boundaries and an important part of a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to tell your partner what your boundaries are, and they will respect them. And if they happen to come across your boundaries or accidentally cross them, you should be able to tell them and they should completely back off and apologize for crossing that boundary. They should respect that boundary and they should respect you. It isn’t enough to say that they respect you or your boundaries, and then trample all over them. Their actions much match their words.
A healthy relationship is also dependent upon your partner knowing when to place your needs above theirs. If one person is constantly giving and the other is constantly taking, the relationship will not work. If one person is constantly taking care of another, and the caregivers needs are not being met, the relationship is unbalanced and it will not work. And in that sense both must be willing to take care of the other.
My most recent relationship ended in spectacular fashion, when I was completely exhausted taking care of him. He needed a lot of constant attention, and constant care. While there is nothing wrong with that, I was exhausted and needed some time to recuperate, and take care of my own things in my own life. However when my needs conflicted with his, he did not have the ability to put my needs even temporarily above his.
When I placed firm boundaries to make sure that the things in my life were taken care of, he crossed those boundaries again and again, insisting that his needs come before mine. In doing so he completely ruined the relationship by showing me that not only did he not respect me or my boundaries, but that I would be staying in a relationship where my needs were never met. To stay in that relationship would mean that I would constantly be giving, with nothing being given in return. A relationship cannot survive that way. Both people must be willing to give to each other.
I do not believe that our relationship is 50-50, I believe that sometimes it’s 80/20, or 60/40, or 70/30. There are times when one partner will be giving more than the other. But as long as the overall average is 50/50 then it will work. The problem is that this relationship that I was in was very unbalanced. I was giving everything, all of my time, and effort, and care. Even when I expressed needs, it was not reciprocated. Not only was it not reciprocated, but the demands upon me were increased.
To me, that is like living in captivity. Where the other person’s needs and desire for control, eclipses your needs. And you are being smothered to the point that you cannot breathe. My need was very simple, and yet it could not be granted even for 24-Hour reprieve. After three years of taking care of others to the point of total emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion, I cannot do that again. I can only be with a partner who is supportive and willing to reciprocate. No one person in a relationship to be tasked with all the giving, because after a while you have nothing left to give.
Always make sure that your boundaries are respected, and that you take care of yourself so that you have something left to take care of others. Don’t worry if any given day it’s not 50/50, because as long as it balances out in the end it will work.
But if the balance is skewed, and one person is supporting and giving, and the other is only taking and not reciprocating, the relationship is doomed. No matter how much you love each other, the taker will always exhaust The Giver.
This man that I was in a relationship with is honestly a good man. But needed 24/7 communication and reassurance. I had to be available every minute that he was awake so he can have a conversations about work, and kids, and decisions, and relationships, and insecurities, and everything. And I had to be available to text back immediately should he reach out to me. If I didn’t then I would have even more text messages wanting to know where I was and why I wasn’t answering.
The last night of our relationship the conversation started at 8:30pm, and didn’t end until 4:30am the next morning. Eight hours. All but two hours of that time I was begging for a break, because I was exhausted from constantly communicating and having to reassure him of everything in his life. I just needed some time to get things in my life back in order, that have been neglected since I was constantly taking care of him. He didn’t see fit to give me that time, and still insisted that All his needs be met.
These details may be small, but there were several times that I had to warn him and ask him and eventually beg him to please back off so that I could have time and the energy and the space to take care of things in my life. I simply did not have several hours a day to dedicate to communicating and taking care of him. It reached a point where I was exhausted, my house was a mess, and I didn’t have time for friends or anything else that only taking care of him.
With my family situation there was no way to avoid complete and utter exhaustion and depletion. I was taking care of my parents alone, and while it was my honor and my privilege, it was extremely difficult. For my own sanity and mental health, I cannot afford to enter into a relationship that is as exhausting as taking care of my parents without anything in return. I have bad days too, and I have needs, and sometimes I need someone to take care of me too. And someday, I will find that relationship. One where the average is 50/50, one where my needs are occasionally placed first, one where there is no need to control, just to support, and one where boundaries are respected. Until then…