Investment in Relationship


Question: I can't find the right partner, every time I meet someone I give it everything I've got but it always ends up with me doing all the running, after a while they sometimes just stop returning my calls. I feel like I'm taken advantage of as I give and give and give & they just seem to take, take, take.

Why do lovers take advantage of me & abuse my generosity like this? I don't feel like I'm ever going to find someone who appreciates me, why does this keep happening to me?!


It's a good question, and it's great that the question's being asked because that shows that the person is wanting to try to understand what's happening as well as what they're creating for themselves.

Firstly, & most importantly, no relationship dynamic happens as a result of just one person's actions, one person on their own does not a relationship make, and so it's always the alchemy of the two that makes up the complete relationship dynamic - it's not always easy nor comfortable to both realise & admit that.

A key part of understanding and changing what's going on is to see, as clearly as one can, one's own behaviour, to take responsibility for that & to focus on changing that because we can't, no matter how much we want or hope to, change others & relationship dynamics, no matter how much we'd like this not to be true, are never solely the doing nor responsibility of just one person.

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The first, and most important piece to note is that we cannot change patterns of behaviour until we notice them & understand them a little, so, what patterns are being noticed here? 

What similarities are there in the people you're dating? What are the similarities about how the relationships both begin & end? The question focuses on the ending but this isn't all that matters here, the beginning actually matters moreso because it is in our choosing of partners that we choose the story that will play out with them. How does it all make you feel? When was the first time you remember feeling these feelings? The answers to these questions is possibly where some solutions lie.

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Very often when patterns repeat the unconscious mind is trying to find a way for a different outcome from previous experiences that caused the same feelings, but perhaps from a long time ago, possibly childhood. These are not conscious choices, often it is the unconscious mind at work and so it is not deliberate nor intentional, but asking ourselves difficult questions may shine a light on these choices that then brings them into conscious awareness, until then they will remain a mystery & perhaps something we abdicate responsibility for by blaming others rather than seeing our own part in them.

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In this particular case where one person says they're repeatedly doing all the 'running' it is, among others, a pattern of unequal investment, of one person putting more time, energy & maybe money into the relationship than the other & feeling shortchanged by the other person because the scales of investment are not balanced, equal & reciprocal.


What is the person who's doing all the investing hoping for instead of what it is they're actually receiving & getting?
Once the pattern has been identified (the help of a therapist may be useful for this) then the task at hand is changing it & the first thing to decide is what do we want to change it to? If we just decide to change the pattern but don't have an idea of what we want instead then we may waste some time swimming around in uncertainty & confusion running the risk of the same thing continuing or happening again.

It can be useful to write a list of what the previous patterns were, how they were recognised, what signs were present that said ''this is happening again!'' and so these are the 'red flags' to watch out for in future relationships. These red flags are not necessarily about other people, in fact most often they shouldn't be, but are more often about our own thoughts, feelings & behaviours. 

For example; if one of these previous patterns has been to buy gifts for lovers or partners & the gifts are not appreciated, reciprocated or indeed more is demanded, then notice when the desire to buy a gift comes up, pay close attention to that desire within you not just how it's received by the other person. Look at the thought, turn the desire over and examine it's motivation to see whether it's coming from a place of pure generosity or a need for approval, a need to be liked, a way to 'buy' affection or masking a hope that this 'investment' will result in more or deeper connection & more meaningful relationship.

This is not necessarily about noticing something about the other person but about paying much closer attention to our own motivations, actions, desires & hopes, thoughts & feelings. And, not only paying attention to them but acting, or not acting!, on them. 


The key here is to NOTICE when we slip into old behaviors that result in unsatisfying results and to DO differently to SEE if doing differently produces different results.


If we want authentic connection, if we want a mutually satisfying relationship with someone who is our equal partner then they will demonstrate their equal investment in the connection just like us, it may be in different ways to us, it may be with time or energy instead of money, it may be by cooking or demonstrating care in different ways, but we should be able to see it, feel it and, better still, talk about it.