- in Commitment
11 Relationship Experts Reveal What To Do When You Are Being Strung Along
“If there is a particular person in your life that is repeatedly choosing not to honor you and is causing you more sadness or pain than they are joy - it might be time to release that friendship back to God and trust that it is not where you belong.”
~ Mandy Hale
Is he truthful?
Honesty is always the best policy. If you are not getting honesty from your partner, it is time to move on. Always look for congruency between his actions and his words. If he keeps making promises he can’t or won’t keep, don’t waste your time. If you feel like he is leading you on, make a choice. You can confront him about his behavior or you can go along with it and remain unfulfilled regarding your relationship needs.
If you hold him accountable but keep getting the same answer with no action, he is stringing you along.
If he makes excuses and doesn’t hold himself accountable, he is unreliable. Let him know what you need and observe his response. Evaluate whether he is taking you seriously or telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes it easier to hear what we want to hear to avoid disappointment. Be honest with yourself about his behavior and pay attention to the red flags.
Is he in another relationship?
A good way to determine if he is in another relationship is to pay attention to the times when he is available to and for you.
- Does he call during the day, but disappear at night?
- Does he make excuse after excuse when he stands you up for a date?
- Does he apologize dramatically and make you feel guilty for not giving him another chance?
- Are you his go to when his first choice is unavailable?
- Do you feel like you are on standby?
Take things slow and see how it plays out. Be patient and trust how you feel. If he is stringing you along, you’re going to feel alone in the relationship.
Assess his intentions
Ask for what you need in the relationship and see how he responds. If you are asking for specific things and he is not delivering, move on. Listen to what he says and see if he is able to follow through with what he does. Is he direct about what he wants? Is he able to articulate his intentions regarding the relationship?
Determine if you are both on the same page regarding your needs and wants from the relationship.
Are your goals and desires regarding the relationship the same for you both? Don’t assume he is on the same page you are if you haven’t discussed what you both want and need from the relationship. Don’t ask for more than you are willing to give in the relationship. You need to meet in the middle with regard to making your relationship a priority.
Don’t be afraid to cut him off
Sometimes knowing when to call it a day is a win. Don’t waste your time if you have asked for what you need in the relationship and he is not following through. Give him a chance once and if he is not able to meet you where you are at, move on. If you keep giving him chances, you are giving him permission to string you along. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Do not compromise your expectations from a relationship or you will find yourself in the same situation over and over again.
If he keeps coming around after continually disappointing you, don’t answer his calls, texts or emails.
Do not entertain communication with him if you want him to get the message you are done with him. Talk to a therapist if you keep finding yourself in relationships in which you are strung along. Ask yourself what about unavailable men attracts you. Be honest with yourself about what you want and need from a relationship and follow through.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
Feeling as if you’re being strung along in a relationship can make you feel frustrated, disappointed, and helpless.
When we have this experience, it’s important not to fall into victim mode, but to think clearly and rationally about our options.
Here are some tips on what to do:
When we have the sense that we’re being strung along, the first thing to do is to examine if this is actually happening. Sometimes we want to move a relationship along at a faster pace than our partner does. We may be ready to stop dating others, while our partner still wants to play the field. Or may be ready to get engaged or move in together, while our partner isn’t ready for more of a commitment.
Simply because we’re frustrated doesn’t mean that we’re being strung along. We need to understand what the term means. We are being strung along when our partner has no interest in making more of a commitment or intention to meet our long-term relationship needs, but is in the game just for the moment, for whatever reasons. There’s a big difference between having a partner who really isn’t interested in the kind of relationship that you desire and one who hasn’t caught up to where you are yet. The goal is for you both to be on the same page.
Look for and pay attention to patterns to know if you’re with someone who has the potential to be a keeper.
Dating is a time to learn about, not snare, a person. If you’re not being treated well while you’re dating, that is, if you’re unilaterally driving the relationship to become more intimate or committed and your partner is either dragging his feet or seems happy right where things are, you may have a problem. Rather than insist that he pick up the pace and meet your emotional needs, you’re better off taking his behavior at face value: Maybe he’s really not that into you.
Gathering information means examining what happened in his previous romantic relationships. Has he broken off two engagements, lived with several lovers for a while and then moved on, or had a difficult time being monogamous?
This is vital data you want to have before entertaining the idea of becoming more serious.
Talk it out
Don’t wait until you’re furious to talk about feeling strung along, but make sure you’ve been dating long enough for the relationship to have had time to progress.
Ask direct questions about what your partner is looking for in a relationship with you. Don’t toss out hints; rather, come straight out and ask. Then listen to the answer you get and see if it matches his behavior. If he says that he’s sure you’re the one, yet he’s not ready to give up dating others, point out the contradiction. If he swears he’ll change, but seems more interested in going out with the boys than having a regular Saturday night date, point out how he’s saying one thing and doing another.
By giving examples, politely indicate how his words don’t match his actions. If he says that it’s too soon for him to stop playing the field, take him at his word and don’t try to ignore this message or change his mind. Simply ask when he thinks he might feel differently.
Talking it out does not mean beating the issue to death in order to get your way.
It means being honest and listening to what your partner has to say. Most of all, it’s vital to not be attached to a happy ending. What you’re looking for here is the truth, not simply to feel more optimistic about your relationship. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find lasting love by bullying or nagging someone into being with you.
Along with talking, you might want to take small actions.
If you’ve just started to date and there’s been no physical intimacy, take a chance and make a move. Then notice how he reacts. If you’ve been together for a while and want to be monogamous, tell him that you’ve removed your name from dating sites and ask if he’ll do the same. If it seems appropriate, invite him to meet your friends and family. And observe how he reacts. These are small tests that speak to his intentions.
In the end, if he can’t give you what you want in terms of love and commitment, move on.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
If I feel a man is stringing me along, it’s time to sit down and ask myself a few questions because he’s probably left a few truth bread crumbs that I either ignored or willingly picked up and accepted.
This latest feeling likely isn’t the first time I felt this way with this man.
When was the first time I felt disappointment with this man? Did I vulnerably talk with him about my feelings or did I stuff them down to be nice, worried he wouldn’t value what I have to say? Maybe I had the courage to talk with him about how I felt.
That’s the first step.
But how did I communicate with him? Was I standing behind an emotional wall of armor protecting my real feelings or did I sit with him feeling nervous and did I tell him that? Did I say ‘You’ a lot or place any blame on him? Did I keep to “I” statements and how I felt in response to his actions or inactions?
Men want to feel wanted, appreciated and like the hero.
If they feel blamed or inadequate to be that hero for me, they will pull away and that can feel like I am being strung along. But instead it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on my own actions and turn it around, if I want this man.
If I am truly honest with myself about whether this man has the qualities I want in a partner, I then know whether I should reach out vulnerably to him or let him loose for good. I don’t have to feel strong along at all.
Kate Houston, Love Coach - www.rockstarlibrarian.com
Get clear on what means.
It is important to first define for yourself what it means to be strung along. Get very specific about what is going on in this relationship that is making you feel like this. This is an important first step because otherwise it is much harder to determine how to move forward.
This follows along with the saying “knowledge is power.” The more you detail the specifics, the easier it is to take control and move forward.
Here are some signs that you are being strung along:
- Your partner is being hot and cold, having periods where there is a lot of contact and flirting mixed between periods of very minimal contact.
- You are putting in most or all the effort with not much reciprocation.
- There is lots of talk of plans with no follow through.
- They are not very responsive to your messages, either completely ignoring them or responding extremely delayed.
- You see them being very active on social media but they are not messaging you.
- When trying to make plans, they are constantly just talking about how busy they are.
Assess how clear you have been.
Sometimes feeling strung along is due to a lack of communication. Remember, the other person is not a mind reader and will not know what you are thinking and what you want if you don’t tell them. They might not realize that you feel strung along and are thinking that you both are on the same page. Therefore, it is important to determine how communicative you have been and where further communication might be necessary.
Express how you feel and what your needs and wants are in this relationship. Be mindful to not come across as attacking or defensive. Stick to describing the facts, be very concrete about the situations and behaviors that have upset you.
Use “I statements,” instead of “you” statements (i.e. “I feel” vs. “you did this.”). Make sure to be very clear on what you need moving forward, don’t expect that they will automatically connect the dots.
Example: “when I text you about getting together and don’t hear back for a few days, I feel hurt and upset. I would appreciate a faster response, so I can plan accordingly.”
If nothing is improving, leave the relationship.
It is important to first try and communicate and put an effort into making the relationship work. All relationships require work and energy in order to give it a fair chance. Otherwise it can become a pattern where no relationship is working out.
On the other hand, there is only so much work and energy you can put in when there are no results. If you are clear about what you need, are able to express that, and are willing to compromise but you are still being strung along, then that is a sign that you need to get out.
Once you have tried to improve things, the other person needs to meet you half way.
When that is not happening, it likely never will. Therefore, it is important for you to recognize that and not continue spending your time in such a relationship. The bottom line is that you deserve to be treated with respect. Why continue a relationship when that is not the case?
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
Women who are married to a person with borderline or narcissistic traits often end up feeling strung along—often for years.
Concerns and complaints to such a partner usually fall on deaf ears, or you hear—I’ll change. I’ll do better. That was last week, I’ve really improved. You know I’m trying.
Or you get gasligted with blame and attack—I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t been rude first. Well, you do it too. I’m never good enough for you. Why are you always so negative?
People with borderline and narcissistic traits want to stay in a relationship, but they are significantly challenged in their ability to change, see your point of view, or understand your feelings. They go through the motions, and they make a lot of excuses for their offensive behavior, always promising that things will be better—or that things are already better.
You end up feeling strung along hoping for change, growth, insight, and real connection. It always seems just over the horizon. They sometimes do change their negative or hurtful behaviors—for a time—but they seem to inevitably go back to their preferred method of being in the world—self-centered on their own wants and needs.
Remember, promises are not progress.
So, what can you do when you think you’re being strung along? First of all, keep actual track of promises, behaviors, and how long you’ve actually experienced the changed behavior. Mark occurrences on a calendar so you won’t be as easily convinced that your observations are wrong.
Figure out for yourself how long you’re willing to put up with the relationship if the behavior doesn’t change—2 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years, etc. Decide also what you want or need to do if the negative behaviors continue past your tolerance point. What actions are YOU willing to take to deal with the issues?
Threatening and pleading never work in the long run. If your partner isn’t changing, there are only two reasons—he won’t or he can’t change. Which implies a lack of motivation or a lack of ability. Either way, you can’t force it to happen.
Instead, focus on what you want.
Figure out what you’re actually getting, and then ask yourself, “What can I do about it, and what choices do I have?” Start taking action to make your own life better. Waiting for decades for your partner to change, only makes your life more frustrating and unsatisfied.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
It’s not a good feeling when you’re in a relationship that seems one-sided.
At one point or another in our lives, each of us has probably felt like we are being kept around but not made someone’s priority. Whether we are dating or just in a friendship, it is a sensitive issue and hard to deal with the nagging question – "Am I just being strung along here?"
You think you have plans but then you don’t. You feel like there’s a depth of connection, but then no one’s there when you’re the one reaching out for support. You think you’re on your way to marriage or serious commitment, but then they’re doing things that make it clear they’re “keeping their options open”. It hurts. Plain and simple. It feels unfair and manipulative, and the next thing you know, you’re getting angry at them, or angry at yourself for getting duped.
So what to do?
Boundaries, people. Set boundaries. A relationship is a two way street. If you find your side of the road is more heavily trafficked, then it’s time to put the brakes on. It’s natural to experience infatuation and excitement at the beginning of most relationships. The bonding hormone oxytocin is released and we physically can feel the connection. It’s a bit hard to resist and it makes it very easy to open up and trust someone who might not have earned it with their time-proven friendship, but who might just be particularly adept at making you feel connected to them.
Here are three tips to help you when you feel strung along:
1. Evaluate your priorities.
There’s nothing wrong with an easy charmer, but do they all deserve to be your priority? No. Make rules for yourself that dictate when and how someone deserves your prioritized attention. This could be something like, “Well, they were there for me when I called them panicked on the side of the road when my car broke down, I think that shows they care. I could do the same for them.”
Or, “They seem to text me only when they want to get together for their choice of activities and usually ignore my requests or conversation – I probably need to consider what is in this for me before I invest more in them.”
2. Protect your soft spots.
If physical intimacy is an area of vulnerability & bonding for you, then recognize the impact it could have if you prematurely let someone into that part of your life. Meeting your family, going to your favorite places together, buying them a meaningful gift. There’s no taking back the experiences you share with a person, so protect and save what’s most sacred to you until that person has earned your trust over time. You’ll avoid the feeling of being strung along and used, because they won’t have access to the best parts of you until they’ve earned it by being reliable and trustworthy.
3. Talk about it.
Express your needs and let them know what you’re feeling. Use words of compassion and understanding to describe your experience. Go for, “When I message you and I only hear back from you when you have a different topic to talk about, it makes me feel unheard. Can you try responding to my questions and conversation starters?” rather than, “I hate when you just totally ignore me and make me feel like crap!” A good rule of thumb is to describe what you’d like to see, instead of what you DON’T want to see.
If you put these steps into action and you’re still feeling like you’re the only one driving the relationship, it might be time to have a serious talk about the direction and velocity of your relationship journey.
If you’re looking for more and their actions prove otherwise, be clear about your intentions for the relationship including measurable elements like a timeline, e.g. “I’m in this relationship because I see it heading toward a lifetime commitment, what do you think? We’ve been off and on for a couple years now, I think we should come to an agreement about whether we’re going to make this happen, and if we are, I would like to do it in the next year or so.”
It’s ok to want different things in relationships, but no one likes feeling like they’re not important to the person they’ve put first.
With most of my clients in this situation, I ask them to clear their mind of any particular person and tell me what they want from a friend or mate. It may be idealistic, but it’s a starting point and it helps to draw a contrast between what you really want and what you’re getting. Know that it is OK to be upset and to share your feelings and expectations. Invite the same from your friends and partners, it’s all part of healthy relationships!
Jemma Coleman Counselor, LMFT, LMHC – www.colemanpractice.com
“Tethering" is a new phenomenon that exists on the Internet.
It refers to constant texting with a person without initiating dates. The texting though can give false hope and it can feel like you’re being strung along for a long time before you realize this guy is not really available.
Even worse can feel it when guys seek contact physically but don’t engage in an emotional way.
Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between him taking it slow or being strung along. But most of the time we can feel it in our gut when we are played: he doesn't really invest a lot of time in you, calls you only when it is a good time for him or when he needs sexual satisfaction, he's only interested when he feels that you want to move on and are ready to walk away. Those are only a few signs.
We all know at least a friend, if not ourselves, that has been in that position. I've had some pretty and intelligent clients on my couch who fell time after time for the wrong kind of guy. They pleased him, were always available, changed their own plans to fit into his, waited hours, were woken up in the middle of the night, …When the guy left them, drained, it felt like all their efforts never had mattered.
It's heartbreaking when they sit in front of you, not understanding why they were dumped, doubting themselves, craving for his attention and brightening up with the slightest sign of interest from him.
When I hear my clients talk about these guys it sounds a lot like they fell for narcissists, guys who go for low investment, trying to extract as much as possible without doing much to deserve it. Some guys prey on girls who are broken, have low self-esteem, and look desperate. Are they really desperate? Not necessarily, sometimes they are determined girls who don't like to give up, patient, naive maybe, who don't see they are just a turf on a guys list, or an easy source of attention.
The question is now: do you stay and hold on to the relation?
Do you try to make the best out of it or do you leave? If you find yourself in heartbreaking relationships over and over again, it’s time to do some self-reflection. Get honest with yourself and look for a pattern.
My advice to clients is always to look into their own unconscious motives. Do you look for validation from this standoffish guy and will you feel worthy when he finally comes around and commits? Does your validation only come from outside sources and not from your own self-worth and identity?
I had several clients who had been overweight during their adolescence and finally after loosing a lot of weight and being found attractive not knowing the difference between real attention and being used. If dating these non-committing people stems from self-esteem issues, then work on developing a sense of confidence and worthiness.
Find something to do in your life, fill it with healthy activities that make you happy, help yourself grow and be yourself. The best thing you can do is have healthy boundaries and take care of yourself. Be ready to leave and find a better fit.
Ask yourself the question: Is it really worth it to feel like crap over someone who most likely doesn’t even care?
Another reason to be with someone like that can be that you’re convinced you can help him. Subconscious we feel that these narcissistic guys are hurt and that their ego serves as a coping mechanism.
For example: He can feel entitled as a cover up for a sense of defectiveness. He avoids true intimacy because of mistrust issues in his childhood. Or he strives for perfection and success (something that attracts his admirers) because he was emotional deprived and thinks “nobody will ever meet my needs and love me for who I am”.
Sensitive or empathic women can feel the pain he has inside and want to fix him. The problem is: he will not allow you to see his weakness. He needs his ego to cover the pain. Pleasing him and trying to fill his void will not ease his pain. It will feed his ego, a coping mechanism that was helpful when he was a boy to survive, but now works against him, against you and against the relationship you try to have.
First you have to recognize that nobody is meant to be a savior for their partner. People can only make changes when they are ready; when they want to change; when they see the need for it themselves.
When you are enabling their behavior (like waiting for them, being available all the time, allowing them to control your emotional world) they can’t learn their life lesson.
By trying to save somebody you take away their responsibilities, their learning process. Ask yourself also: Do I need a damaged person so I will feel less damaged myself? Am I trying to help somebody so I can deflect from my own problems?
What to do if you are physically committed already (but he isn’t emotionally), and you take your vows serious “In good and in bad times. For better and for worse.”? What if you are raised strict religious, had to marry young and you don’t believe in divorce? Is leaving the only option?
Well, as a therapist we can never tell somebody what to do. We can only give advice. In case you consciously decide to stay, just know that it takes patience to support somebody who is not emotionally available.
The best thing you can do for yourself is
1. Find other things to do to invest your loving energy in.
Don’t wait for him and be available whenever he wants your attention. Have things to do that protect you against his strings. It might be the necessary reaction he needs in life to make change possible.
2. Confront your own pain and recognize the personal skills that you need to develop.
3. Change negative thoughts in positive affirmations to gain self-esteem.
4. Meet with friends and family to feel less alone and don’t depend only on your partner for social fulfillment.
5. Have healthy boundaries and speak up when you feel rejected. Speak from an “I feel”-position, not with accusation or anger.
6. Help him find ways to feel more self-connected: like exercising, walks in nature, meditation, yoga, journaling, stimulation of his creativity…
Michal Andries, MS, LMHC – www.facebook.com/lighthousecounselingofverobeach
Wondering whether or not someone loves you the way that you love them is such a heart wrenching place to be.
One minute, it could seem that the person is completely into you, wants to be with you, seems 100% committed. The next moment, they are flaky with plans, they don’t respond to texts/calls in a reasonable amount of time, or they express their dislike for labels or relationship definitions.
You battle back and forth between the options of sharing your feelings in the hopes that they reciprocate or not saying anything hoping that the relationship just gets better on it’s own over time. Because what if you say something and it pushes them away? What if they leave?
As I write this, I can recall a particular relationship I was in with someone before I became a therapist.
Ok, it wasn’t a real deal “relationship.” He didn’t want to be in one officially. We saw each other intimately and spent some time doing other date-like activities but it was not exclusive. I wanted a real partnership and so I would eventually push him away, trying to move on, and it was always during those moments that he would profess his desire for me. He would tell me that I was something special, someone unique, someone he was privileged to spend time with and that he didn’t want me to give up on us. But if I was so darn great, why couldn’t we just be together?
I eventually did push him away for good after a drunken night where he told me he was in love with me for the very first time and a sober morning where he couldn’t remember saying those words. It was the final straw. But it took me over 4 years to get there and I needed a therapist to help me deal with the aftermath.
Becoming a therapist and learning about relationship dynamics taught me so much that I wish I knew at that time so I share with you now and hope that some of it can be useful.
First is the importance of knowing thy self.
Before addressing any kind of relationship issue, it’s helpful to know what you want in general. Do you want to be in a relationship? Do you want it to be exclusive? Do you want to be moving towards marriage or building some kind of future together? What are your relationship goals and desires?
Interpersonal Psychotherapy teaches how conflict between partners often arise due to unmet expectations. So take some time for yourself and reflect on what you expect from an ideal, healthy relationship.
Second is communicate, communicate, communicate.
A big part of a fulfilling healthy relationship is having the space to openly share how you feel and have the other person listen to you in a respectful manner. So once you know what you want, I encourage you to share it. I know this is easier said than done. It can be so difficult to be vulnerable and if you are with someone who you think is stringing you along then you will definitely be taking a risk that they could reject you. But there is so much power in being assertive and direct.
It’s like saying hey world, these are my needs and they are important so get with it! Regardless of how the other person responds, you have advocated for yourself and that is always a good thing.
I would say the third thing to consider is finding out what they want.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the person was mature, totally self aware, could tell you what they were looking for, and let it all end if you had different goals? Yes, but chances are they are going to be vague with their answer and they won’t let you close the door on the relationship, they would prefer to leave it open ended. This is why you are getting strung along in the first place, right? Try exploring what makes it difficult for them to commit to the relationship.
Growing up in a home with chaotic and unhealthy family dynamics or having been abused in previous relationships can sometimes make it difficult for a person to engage in healthy relationship behaviors. Having these issues all by themselves does not make the relationship salvageable but if the other person is able to acknowledge these issues and make a commitment to work on them with you and maybe the help of a therapist then maybe you can work on a future together.
The fourth and last thing to ask yourself is probably the hardest question.
What do you do if at the end of the day, you and your loved one aren’t on the same page with relationship goals or you find that regardless of what the other person says in the moment, their actions don’t indicate that they want an enriching and engaging partnership? This goes back to that heart wrenching moment of deciding when to leave a relationship.
For me, leaving and walking away was the best thing I ever did but it still took me many tries to get there and it was incredibly painful. Whatever you decide to do, I implore you to be compassionate towards yourself.
If the relationship does end, please know that there is nothing wrong with you and you are not unlovable. You are brave and you love intensely and you deserve to have someone love you in return with the same ferocity. There are other people out there looking for the same thing and you can find them! Seek out support from your friends and family. Maybe set up an appointment with a therapist. If you prioritize your happiness, you will find others who will prioritize it too.
Lisa D'Antonio, LCSW-C- www.oaktreecounselingcenter.org
So you have realized that you have been strung along….NOW WHAT?
You’re living in that “gray zone” and it’s a bit uncomfortable. As you’re building hopes and dreams in your mind – the harsh reality is it’s only a dream for a party of ONE. *(Thought cloud) It’s as if the waiter comes to the table and whisks away the place setting for [INSERT NAME] who you thought was coming*
That is how you feel when you finally wake up and realize that you are in a non-committal “relationship”.
But seriously speaking, your eyes are open and it feels like a complete setup!
Of course you can rant and rave about being hurt and confused by the other person, but as a fellow colleague points out, “Let’s not play the victim role and start to own our share”.
Say what?! Yes, I know, you maybe mad now while reading this. I understand. Actually, I overstand! I most certainly do not want to beat up and scold you.
No, no. But I DO want to touch on the word accountability. Now that you are aware that this non-committal relationship is going nowhere fast, what do YOU do to ensure that you are not continuing in this fragmented union?
Let’s discuss 3 areas: Self-Love/Respect, Boundaries, and Expectations (in no particular order).
If you aren’t 100% loving and respecting yourself, or even knowing your worth, then that could be a major pitfall for falling into relationships that are not uplifting or adding to your life. If you are not being cognizant of who you are and what you are worth, how can anyone else honor you the way you should be honored? But let’s say you are self-loving and respecting yourself, yet, you have attracted an individual of the non-committal type.
Well ask some of those real questions. Is this what you want? Is he emotionally available for truly cultivating a serious commitment? Are YOU really emotionally available? Are/were there red flags that you missed and went full steam ahead? Did you put yourself first and honor your values, beliefs, and desires?
Okay, so we’re loving ourselves and feeling a bit better, right? Well, that’s great, but there is more work to be done. Setting boundaries is such a fine dance. We should have boundaries in all relationships. But when you begin to look at this “relationship”, ask yourself some questions. Did you have clear and set boundaries within this relationship or were they non-existent? Did you even have boundaries? Were these healthy boundaries? What exactly does the word “boundary” mean to you?
If you start to dig deeper and be honest with yourself, you just may uncover some answers. You should learn to know what your limits and deal-breakers are even within a relationship. Remember, you teach people how to treat you. So be kind to yourself and work on this area. You maybe shocked to find out just how empowering this could be.
I am ALLLL about that talk! Hey, I do it for a living…*smile*. So if you have received a lightbulb moment and feel you are being strung along, its important to know that you have the right to discuss what your expectations are in a relationship. But you DON’T have the right to manipulate those expectations into what you want. Remember, there would be no need to do that because you are exercising self-love/respect and having clear boundaries.
There is no need to force someone to commit to you…but you owe it to yourself to ALWAYS be true to you. Speak about what you are looking for within this relationship. Stand firm. And if after it’s all said and done, and they are not looking for the same, you can clearly continue to have your party for ONE (for the meantime of course wink).
Crystal Collins, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.collinsconsultingllc.com
You’ve got what seems to be a good thing. Your partner is so much of what you want in your life! Things seem to be going so well, and yet, you just never seem to get to the next step; the next level. What are you doing wrong?
When we feel strung along in a relationship, we need to figure out what parts of what’s going on belong to us and what belongs to our partner. We have only have control over our own pieces, including determining whether or not this person is qualified to be our partner.
We would do well to ask ourselves:
- What are my “terms for relationships?”
- Have I communicated those terms to my partner?
- Do I know what my partner’s terms are?
- Can I be a healthy person living in my partner’s terms?
- Are we both willing to talk openly and honestly about what we do and don’t want?
- Are we afraid to move forward? If so, why?
Terms for Relationship
Everyone has a set of terms for relationship, whether or not they have thought them through. In my practice I often see people who get angry and upset because the person they want the their partners’ terms to change so that they fit together better. This brings nothing but pain and pointless struggle. It is ultimately disrespectful to both people. Love and disrespect are incompatible.
It could be that the person you are with is an absolutely wonderful person… who is right for someone else. We each have a responsibility to hold onto a set of “must haves” and “can’t stands.” These are not our preferences, (the things that we can bend on without losing ourselves,) but rather, actual non-negotiables. There is no point in judging someone else’s non-negotiables, and you do not have to defend yours. We determine for ourselves what we want in relationship. Our healthiest relationships will be ones in which both partners terms are compatible.
Sometimes we have compatible terms for relationship but fear keeps us from moving forward. We may unconsciously sabotage the relationship because we are afraid of the deeper vulnerability that comes from moving to the next step together. “If I trust this person with my deeper self, I can get seriously hurt.”
Guess what? You’re right! If you reveal your deeper self to someone else, that person does, in fact, have the ability to hurt you more profoundly. You would be wise to see how they do with less threatening disclosures. If the person is trustworthy with less volatile material, it may be worth it to trust them with things that are more vulnerable.
There is no feeling in the world like sharing something painful, difficult or embarrassing with someone and finding that the person is right there with you, not judging you and still loving you just the same. It helps us own the freedom to be more authentic with ourselves and with others. As Neola Evans wrote, “A challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth.” Sometimes it’s worth it to contend with a dragon.
It could be that the other person has been both afraid, and afraid to talk about being afraid. If this is your situation, you might be on the precipice of a life-changing conversation that brings you both closer together and ready to move forward.
Talking the issues through together with a counselor can create the kind of emotional safety you need to both say and hear the hard things about your relationship. Working with a counselor isn’t about proving who is “right” or “wrong.” You each have your unique experience. A good counselor will help you hear each other, be empathic toward one another, and decide together what your healthiest choices are. This is about “you and me against the problem,” not “you against me.”
You might find that the person you love with all of your heart really is not trustworthy with your deeper self. Can you stay in a relationship where those parts of you must always be hidden and unmet? On an emotional level, that is extremely costly. If you do choose to stay, you might want to take a good, hard look at why you’re okay with that.
“But I llluuuuvvv him,” is not an adequate answer. While we are attracted to people for all of their good qualities, we often stay in relationship for less healthy reasons. We couple up with people who hurt us in familiar ways. We don’t do this because we’re crazy, but rather, because something inside wants things to be different this time. Humans gravitate toward the familiar even when we despise the familiar. Unless we let ourselves be conscious about our less healthy reasons, we are doomed to repeat the familiar, destructive patterns. If we put those issues on the table we have a chance to re-work things so that we are healthy instead.
Are you staying in a relationship hoping that the other person will change? That isn’t very loving. If the relationship crosses either person’s non-negotiables, it is not viable. Sometimes the most loving thing we can say to someone is “good bye.”
Finding Your Voice
Once you’ve figured out what you want and don’t want in a relationship, it’s on you to voice it and see what your partner does with it. Is your partner willing to listen and share with you reciprocally? Remember, you only have control over your choices, and, you do have control over your choices.
You might feel stuck because the relationship isn’t viable. You might feel stuck because one or both of you haven’t been clear about what you want and don’t want. You might feel stuck because you or your partner is afraid. Figuring out what’s going on can bring you both to a much healthier, more content life either together or apart. It’s worth the work!
Tiffany L. Craig, MS, LCPC - www.mypeace.co
Do you feel like your partner is stringing you along? Are you feeling insecure in your relationship because of it? Can you change the dynamic so he becomes more committed and engaged?
This is a difficult subject because there are many factors involved.
First, he may be just not "into" you so his attention and involvement are elsewhere.
If you feel like you are second fiddle to his softball game, night out with the guys, or he is unavailable too many times, it may be time to move on and find someone who truly finds you irresistible and special.
Second, he may be the type who has a difficult time showing affection or reaching out demonstrably.
If that's the case, you need to decide if you want to be with someone who is not meeting your emotional or physical needs.
Third, if you've never told him what you like or want, it may be a good time to have a conversation stating how important it is to get an occasional text, or call to just check in.
He may be clueless and with a little prompting, he could step up and make the kind of changes that would make you feel more secure and loved.
Fourth, communicate with clarity by asking straightforward and concise questions.
Say, "I'm very happy with what we have together and I see a future for us. How do you see things going?" In this way you avoid being strung along, if his intent is different than yours. The answer may not be what you want to hear, but at least you know and can move on to meet the perfect guy for you.
Your relationship is important, but so are you.
Ideally, you want to experience a secure, harmonious, give and take relationship with someone who understands this as well. If you don’t have this, it may be time to cut your losses and explore new options.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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