LCMHC, LCASA, NCC, MA
“Be a priority, not an option!” This is something you’ve probably heard before. When you are in a relationship with another person and you are being placed on the backburner you may start to question your relationship, your needs or even your worth. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help guide you in moments like this:
How do I feel and what do I need?
Most of the time, what we are feeling is a mix of abandonment and rejection. There might be some sadness involved as we grieve the loss of what our relationship once was. There could also be fear involved as you grapple with questions such as “does this mean he/she wants to leave me?” If you can ground yourself in your feelings, you can then start to piece together what you need. For example, if you feel fear you may need reassurance. If you feel abandonment, you may need to feel supported.
Are my expectations realistic?
Expectations can create major disappointment. I cannot expect my partner to meet all of my needs. If I state to my partner, “I feel abandoned and I need to feel supported”, I can’t expect them to know how to make me feel that way. I have to be able to articulate my needs and expect that I they will not always be able to meet them. It is not fair (to you or to others) to put your emotional wellbeing in your partner’s hands.
Am I taking care of my own priorities?
I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with women who found themselves in the following cycle: have needs, try to get needs met by partner, get clingy, push partner away, blame partner for not meeting needs. It is our responsibility to give ourselves what we are most looking for. If you feel abandoned, how can you stop abandoning yourself? If you feel scared, how can you tend to those fears? Taking some responsibility for your own needs can drastically help your relationships.
Do I need to set boundaries or be in this relationship?
In some cases, your partner might be acting in a disrespectful way. This is where you have to make a decision about what you are willing to put up with. If you tried everything above and things are still not working for you, you get to decide if you want the relationship to end. If you stay in a relationship hoping it will change, you are just going to hurt yourself more. A boundary might sound like, “When you spend time with everyone else before me, I feel hurt, confused and sad. I need to know that you value your time with me. If you continue to put me last, I cannot continue to be in a relationship with you.”
as featured in Deep Soulful Love