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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

A Take on My Relationship With People

A man and a woman holding hands in the sunlight.

As human beings, we yearn to interact with other human beings to find meaning and comfort. The relationships we have with others shape who we are as a person and are essential for having a fulfilling life. But sometimes, these relationships can take a toll on people if they become one-sided or if personal boundaries are not kept.

Through a series of events, the past few months have given me good reason and time to think about what my relationship with other people looks like. I noticed a pattern that I had with most of my relationships (to be honest, I think it's less dramatic, but the following explanation is definitely true). First, I would find a friend with whom I could share many parts of my life. I just needed one person who understood me and could support each other. I wanted to make sure that this person had no reason to leave me. I needed someone to need me (which I’ve now realized is co-dependency), so I tried hard to be the sole provider by helping them out in every way I could. But since this wasn't very easy to do (to invest everything in a person), I wouldn't go out of my way to befriend a lot of people.

This forced me to focus on 'perfecting' this one relationship. And because I put so much effort into this one person, I was always anxious about what I would do if this relationship were to end. Since I was worried about this, sometimes, I tried to shape my friends' relationships so that they couldn't find other people so that they could just focus on me. But in the end, these all didn't work out in anyone's favor, and I was too stressed out trying to be the mastermind of it all instead of just truly enjoying the person's company. I lost a few friends, and back then, I didn't really know why. Yes, some of them did exploit what I was doing, but I recognize the parts where I went wrong.

I can think of a few reasons from my childhood that might have shaped me in this way. But today, I want to focus on what I've realized for myself and how I will go about addressing these.

  1. I get anxious when I'm by myself. When it's at its worst, I feel like I can't do anything, and I just need someone there. Since I don't like feeling this way, I think I always tried to surround myself with people.

  2. I make one person the center of my life. Then, my life starts to revolve around them. I will do everything in my power to keep that person in my life and to get them to pay more attention to me.

  3. My love for others is based on sacrifice and utter devotion. In all types of relationships, I would be the one who's fine with sacrificing my own time and efforts. I would get burnt out, and since I would be doing everything I could for them. They would feel overwhelmed or feel like they didn't have a place to stand on their own. Sometimes, they would stop appreciating the things I do because they get used to it.

  4. I have not developed a strong sense of 'identity' yet. This is a big part of why a lot of my relationships follow the pattern I explained. When I get close to someone, I make that person my identity because I'm spending so much time around them, and it's easy for me to rationalize all my sacrifices when they are such a big part of who I am.

  5. I worry about abandonment. Which is why I can never wait patiently for someone to return (literally and figuratively). It turns all my relationships into a one-sided one where I'm always pining for the other person while they slowly back away or realize they can be more passive because I will come to them anyway.

So what can I do about them? Here's what I think:

  • Find things that I enjoy doing by myself. I should find hobbies and interests that aren't strongly connected to another person. I shouldn't do things on my own for the sake of just 'buying time' before my next iteration of spending time with the other person. It should be something that I lose track of time when I'm doing it.

  • Make sure that the center of my life is always set on God instead of any other human being. He is the only one who will not disappoint and bring peace to my relationships if I let my life revolve around him.

  • Learn different ways to love people. I don't have to dedicate my life if I want to let someone know that I care about them. Perhaps that comes later when I have my own children, but not now, at least. I can spend time with someone a healthy amount and have fun without turning them into an obsession.

  • Ask questions about who I am as a person, what boundaries I hold, and what makes me distinguishable from others. I need to keep trying to find a vision of who I am and what purpose I have in God.

  • Be assured that if they are good people, they will come back to me. Surprisingly, if I stay put on my side and wait, there is no reason for the other person not to come to me or at least meet me in the middle. If they don't, then that's not a relationship worth keeping. If I keep going over to the other person, the 'leash' will get shorter and shorter until it tips the balance of the relationship completely so that I'm the only one putting in effort (because I've reinforced the idea to the other person that I will always be the one chasing). I don't need to worry about being abandoned because I am actually never alone. Remember that I always have God by my side.

I'm going to keep these points in mind when I approach relationships old and new. Hopefully, these will help me maintain a healthy relationship with the people I meet in my life!

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