Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope--a slight change, and all patterns alter. --Sharon Salzberg
There is a pattern to each and every one of my romantic relationships. It goes like this:
I meet a guy.
I like him right away.
I am slightly hard to get at first, until I know he's pretty interested.
I'll start dating him.
He will do something nice for me.
Then I start to really like him.
So I start to do stuff for him.
And I like him even more.
So I do even more stuff for him.
Then one day, I realize I'm doing all the giving and he's doing all the taking.
In fact, he hasn't done much for me since date #3.
I have spoiled him.
Then I begin to resent him.
And I hint around at feeling taken-for-granted.
Which leads to a fight and/or my crying myself to sleep.
And then I hate him.
And I stop doing everything and begin to have an attitude.
I turn into an Ice Queen.
And he feels confused, guilty and caught unawares.
Then we break up.
Hey, I never said it was the healthiest, most mature way of handling things. But it is what I do. Does anyone else out there do this? Anyone know how to break this vicious cycle? I have tried and tried and tried to not do things for guys I like, but I can't help it. I derive a lot of pleasure from doing things for guys I date. It makes me feel good to do something for them. I'm a very affectionate person by nature. I have an easier time doing something for them than telling them how I feel. I'm a show-er, not a tell-er. (Had to do the hyphens. Otherwise it would have said, "I'm a shower" which makes no sense.)
I used to think I suffered from this pattern because I was dating selfish jerks, but now I realize that the holding pattern here is me. Every time, the only thing these relationships have in common is me.
I'm dating a nice guy. Who I really really like. Who really likes me. He loves that I do stuff for him all the time. He appreciates me. We even joke about how I've spoiled him. I'm not saying I regret doing these things for him, because I'm crazy about him and I want to make him happy. But I'm getting a little twinge in the back of my brain. That feeling that I'm gradually doing all the giving and none of the taking. Maybe I'm a score-keeper. I hate that thought. I guess I just don't want to be taken advantage of. I don't want to be made a fool. It must be a self-protective thing. Maybe I'm high-maintenance. Or insecure. Or needy. Or just bad at asking for some attention. I know what you are going to say: Love like you won't get hurt. Love makes fools out of all of us. [Insert cheesy adage here.] Well, buddy, easier said than done! I do have some pride, you know!
Maybe we are just getting comfortable. Is that possible after less than 2 months of dating?
I have hinted to him lately about my feelings of doing all the giving. So it's not like I'm keeping him in the dark--he knows what I'm saying. But I am hesitant to say outright, "Hey! I need you to do something for me for a change! Stop taking so much!" Like most women, I don't want him to do stuff because he feels obligated. I want him to do stuff for me for the same reason I do stuff for him: because he wants to. If he feels like he has to do stuff to stay out of the doghouse, I won't enjoy it and it will make him miserable. Then he will resent me. That's why I'm hesitant to be really blunt about this. I don't expect him to read my mind, but I do expect him to pick up on what I'm implying.
I wish I knew what my problem is. At the end of every relationship, I feel empty and emotionally exhausted from giving all the time. And I end up resenting all of my exes. Even the nice ones. And I vow to be self-centered in my next relationship. (It never works, obviously.) I don't want to feel like this with Repo. (I don't want him to be an ex, either!) This is hands down the best relationship I've ever had. So I'm really hoping I will break this pattern. I'm trying to just chill and not worry about it, I can assure you.
Please don't read this and think that Repo and I are having problems. We are good. He just called to see how I'm doing as I was writing this. So don't get the idea that he's not doing anything for me. He is doing little things here and there. And I'm grateful and appreciative. I'm just afraid this old problem I have will rear its ugly head again and the same things will happen with us. This is a pre-emptive post. I want to be prepared in case I start to really feel that resentment creeping up on me. Because it's a slippery slope. A gradual process. I'd like to have a gameplan. Or at least a better understanding of my behavior.
But it sure would help if he took me out to dinner soon! (And no, I still haven't gotten my birthday present yet.) See? There I go, The Scorekeeper! I can't stop! Is this a woman thing, or do guys feel like this sometimes, too?
So much for not talking about my relationship on my blog...