Sometimes women give too much of themselves to a relationship or a friendship. We have been bought up to believe to show true loyalty and devotion to our mates and our friends; we should alter bits of who we are to make the other people in our lives happy but what happens when there is nothing left to change? When you cannot make any more modifications to who you are? You have nothing left to give and you end up finding out that the person you were in the beginning has long since left and you end up being a shell – you wake up and look in the mirror and discover YOU don’t even know who you are anymore. You made all these changes to show one that you cared, you loved them wholly and unconditionally, yet you were loving with conditions not on the other person(s) but with terms you put on yourself.
I received an email from “Mandy” and she spoke of the following:
Hello Ms. Nix:
I hope this finds you in a positive space. I received your blog by email and I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I have a situation of my own and I wanted to get your opinion on the matter.
I have been dating my boyfriend for about 5 years now and we have had our share of ups and downs (I know all relationships do) but I am at a point where I feel stagnant. I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy into our relationship; I’ve made a lot of changes in my personal and professional life to accommodate my boyfriend. When we first started dating we lived a few hours apart from one another. The closer we got, I would stay with him at his house and commute to work near my own home about 3 or 4 times a week – this became inconvenient and eventually I left my job for 10 years to relocate with my boyfriend. The living arrangements seemed fine at first, but it took me some time to find another job that offered me the same salary I was making prior to the move. Eventually, the lack of funds in the household started to create tensions and resentment but I did find a position that quickly eliminated this issue. As time moved on, my boyfriend asked me to make some changes to my wardrobe. He did not like the low cut blouses or the pencil skirts I would were to the office – he said that it was to inviting and I should not create a situation where other men would think I was available. I did not see the problem with making some minor clothing changes. But the requests became more frequent and I started noticing a change in his behaviors with each new modification. He wanted me to cut my hair short; I’ve had medium length hair most of my life and I have never had the desire to cut my hair but as a gesture of my love for him I cut it. The new style required me to be at the hairdresser once a week for a few hours but I didn’t mind the inconvenience, my man loved the new look. Then came another request, another change and another….I just stopped recognizing who I was anymore. I sat back and examined my life and I stopped hanging out with my friends, rarely communicated with my family; I was engulfed with him, my life was all about him. My boyfriend was happy with our relationship, I am completely miserable. I decided to let my hair grow out and got it braided he lost his mind. He was very upset that I was changing my look, the look he loved so much. I was baffled and confused, what should I do? I want my man to be happy but I want to be happy too and I don’t know what to do to regain myself.
I hate to hear that you are unhappy. It is no fun being in a relationship and feeling alone and miserable. Mandy, you should never have to change who you are for anyone. When a person really loves you, you are accepted for who you are and what you are about from the beginning. Yes, you will make some changes and compromises as you grow as a couple but to change everything about yourself is something that you should never do to make someone else happy. It sounds like he was creating the woman he wanted to be with and you allowed him to mold you into someone and something that you were not – this is never good. It also sounds like he is extremely controlling. Did you discuss your expectations before you decided to move in with your boyfriend? I can see there were some areas left unaddressed and you leaped in, head and heart first, into something that you are now paying a dear price for. Now you have come to a crossroads in your relationship because you want to be who you truly are as a person and he has been made to feel vindicated in his efforts of control over you because you have allowed this behavior for a period of time without – to make him happy. He obviously never considered how you felt and you never told him anything contrary to what he wanted or “requested” from you. You went along with whatever changes he wanted you to make, sacrificing yourself and your happiness all in the name of love. Now you, Mandy, must take back your power and make some tough decisions. If you continue down the path you are already going you will never be happy but know when you start to take back your life and recapture the real essence of which you are this will come with a lot of opposition.I believe in keeping relationships together and I also believe in compromise; however, I am not in agreement with a total overhaul of your character to make your mate happy. You need to start with Mandy and work on regaining who you are as a person. First, talk to your boyfriend and let him know how you truly feel. If he is really committed to you and your future together you two can begin to work out the flaws in your relationship. The initial changes may shock him a bit but he will come to appreciate and love YOU for the REAL YOU – isn’t this who he fell in love with in the first place? If he really is as controlling as it seems in your email, I would like to suggest be prepared to make your exit. Controlling people do not like losing control over anything. The problem with them is they don’t have control in their own lives and need to dominate someone else to fulfill the void in their own worlds. These types of people can become very volatile and unpredictable and you need to be on the ready for the potential craziness that can ensue if you decide to leave the relationship. Start making contact with your family and friends and make them aware of your situation and his behaviors so they too can be ready if you need some help walking out the door. Facing the challenges of relationships are never easy and I wish you well in whatever decision you make. In fact, once you’ve made your decision email me or call me (I will send you my phone number) and let me know which course you are going to take. I want to help you as much as I can in either case.