You can’t control how people act, but you can control what you tolerate.
by James Michael Sama
ermites are small, barely visible little creatures. By themselves, they’re relatively harmless and wouldn’t be much of a concern if you found one around the house. But, they’re not singular pests, and we all know that when they combine their efforts, they can create massive structural damage to a house or a building.
The same goes for some of the (seemingly) small and harmless behaviors that you can choose whether or not to accept in a relationship.
On the surface, one or two of these may not be that big of a deal. After all, nobody is perfect, and we can all overlook some annoyances now and then.
The real challenge begins when more and more of their termite friends show up, and they begin eating away at the foundation of your relationship relentlessly and constantly.
The good news is, you can choose not to let these termites in…but, I believe that we have a tendency to underestimate the damage they’re truly capable of…until it’s too late.
The truth is that you deserve better than these negative treatments…but if you don’t recognize them, and especially if you don’t believe that you deserve better — they’ll just keep creeping in.
Sometimes, the first step to making space for positive treatment is removing negative treatment.
1: Inconsistent behavior.
If someone is actually interested in you, they’re going to make the time to spend with you…no matter how busy they are. Even if it’s just once a week, or getting a quick coffee after work, or dropping by on their way to church, real interest is expressed through being in your physical presence.
Too often I’ve heard about “hot and cold” behavior. Fluctuating levels of effort put into the relationship. Questioning someone’s feelings because they just failed to respond for 4 days to a text message (Nobody is without their phone for 4 days…or 3…or 1. Everyone can find 30 seconds to reply, even if it’s just to say “Hey, I’m really busy, I’ll get back to you later!”)
The point is this — relationships, love, and trust all take consistency to build. You need to know the person you’re with (or thinking about being with) is actually serious about putting in equal effort.
Many people let the “off” days slide because of how heavily they come back on the “on” days. But, huge swings in behavior are not a good sign, and you shouldn’t let yourself be blinded by grand gestures if they’re going to float off into the abyss afterwards.
Real love is built through consistent action over time, not from dive-bombing your life over and over whenever they feel like it.
2: Chasing emotional unavailability.
Sort of a clunky sounding point, but hear me out…
This particular point is a behavior you need to stop accepting from yourself:
Chasing after people who are quite clearly emotionally unavailable.
We’ve all been there: Infatuated with someone who quite clearly is unable to give themselves to a relationship at that particular time.
It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.
It doesn’t mean they’re intentionally leading you on.
It doesn’t mean they’re ignoring you.
Sometimes, people are just not ready, not in the right state of mind, not over that breakup, or not emotionally present enough to give you what you need in a relationship.
AH, BUT…you just like them so much that you want to keep trying.
Eventually, maybe you break through to them and they give it a chance.
You spend some time together, things get intimate, you go on a few dates…things seem to be going well…
Then, a brick wall.
They become distant and gradually spend less time with you.
“What happened?!” you gasp to yourself…Things were going so well!
Yeah, they were…until they weren’t.
If you passionately pursue someone who’s obviously not ready to be in a relationship, then inevitably, that truth will reveal itself over time as they pull away.
It may not even be about you — it’s probably about them, and the inner work they need to do before they’re truly ready for a relationship.
The sad part about this is that sometimes, it might’ve worked out between these two people, if only the timing were better.
If only it had been left to evolve naturally, when they were truly ready to receive you.
3: Avoiding responsibility for their mistakes.
I always hate to be the bearer of bad news when I bring this up, but it’s my duty to inform you that nobody is perfect.
Yes, that also means you. And it definitely means me.
None of us are perfect, so what follows is, all of us make mistakes.
Relationships can be chalk-full of mistakes as two people are working to merge their lives, viewpoints, moral codes, and value sets together in order to create one cohesive life together.
We’re all going to slip up, say the wrong thing, overstep a boundary now and then…
I believe that, within reason (nothing hurtful, harmful, or abusive is allowed here), these mistakes are forgivable and expected.
Here’s the rub, though: If you’re with someone who never owns up to their mistakes or admits to making them, this is a huge red flag and is bound to cause problems down the road.
When you cannot admit to a problem, you also cannot fix it.
When you cannot fix it, it perpetuates and invites the rest of its little termite friends into the house to finish off the foundation.
It’s not about finding a partner who never makes mistakes — that doesn’t exist. It’s about finding a partner who recognizes them, apologizes for them, and puts in the work to fix them.
4: Not considering you in major decisions.
Here’s an obvious statement: Being in a relationship requires you to live differently than when you’re single.
Different still, is how one lives when they’re married.
“Me” becomes “we” when you choose a monogamous commitment at any level.
Some people, though, try to hold on to some of their “single” tendencies even within the boundaries of a relationship.
Some of these tendencies might make you uncomfortable.
Some might affect your life.
Some might pull this person further away from you.
Being in a relationship means considering how your decisions affect your partner. You don’t just go off and make life-altering choices, big or small, without talking to them or at least getting their opinions.
Obviously, I’m not talking about calling your partner every time you need to decide on a brand of cheese to buy…I’m talking about when they’re going to feel the affects of your decisions.
If you want to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want…there’s a simple solution:
5: They bring you more problems than peace.
Some people just seem to be a magnet for drama, don’t they? Every time you talk to them there’s something to complain about, or someone else has done something wrong, or they’ve been offended by the world in some way.
Being in a relationship with a person like this can make you feel like your entire life is in turmoil at all times.
Everything is a conflict.
Everything is a fight (not always against you…sometimes, it’s just against the world).
Yet, they never seem to take action to find ways to solve this problem and ask why their life seems to be strife with dilemmas. Sounds a lot like the person in point #3.
A relationship, while always having its own challenges of course, is supposed to bring you more joy than it does stress.
More happiness than sadness.
More love than pain.
More good than bad.
Being in a relationship is a choice — and why would you ever choose a situation that does more harm to your mental health than good?
6: Lack of relationship progress.
Relationships are a journey, and the steps you walk must be taken together.
There is a progression that (usually) happens within a relationship where things become more serious over time.
Everyone is different and everyone moves at their own pace, so I am not saying there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to do this. You need to do what works for you and your partner.
There is a difference, however, between slow movement and no movement at all.
There is also a difference between understanding someone else’s pace, and betraying your own.
In other words: If you are simply spinning in circles and nothing seems to be moving forward, it’d behoove you to figure out why.
Why have you not met their friends yet? Their family? Their dog?
Why have you not been invited to their house yet? It’s been 6 months!
If you’re in a place in your life where you’re trying to build a life with someone, they need to show you that they’re ready for the same things you are — and willing to create them together.
If they’re not, you need to be honest with yourself about the reality of it (and them).
7: Crappy communication.
Our generation and the ones younger than us are operating under new dating rules that have never existed before.
For example…well, virtually everything.
We all communicate differently than we did even 10 or 15 years ago, let alone generations ago.
Our parents weren’t texting each other, or sliding into each others’ DMs. They were calling each other on the phone, leaving love notes, having real conversations.
That’s how they go to know each other so well. It’s how they got to form real bonds and connections.
These days, we’re sending texts that say “wyd?”
(Well, I’m not — but some people are).
If you want to build a real relationship, you need to be able to have real conversations. You need to be able to share ideas, visions for the future, goals, dreams, philosophies…
Let me just say that I understand not everyone is a great communicator, but they can at least put in the effort to try.
They can advance as they’re more comfortable opening up to you.
You can work together to find ways that you can both connect and understand each other.
If they’re unwilling to do that, though, how can you ever build a bond strong enough to last you a lifetime?
8: Lack of affection.
Not everyone is all “touchy-feely,” I get it.
Let me paste a comment I recently received on Facebook:
- Disclaimer: This was already shared publicly on my highly public Facebook page which is why I am sharing it here to illustrate the importance of this point.
He just shows no affection at all. No holding hands, no hugging or cuddling of any sort and no sex.
I’ve talked to him many times and have told him what I need but at this point he just gets mad and annoyed with me when I try and discuss it with him. I actually tried talking to him again yesterday after reading this post and he got up and walked out of the room.
He’s a great father and we’re great friends, we rarely argue, I just need more from him. And I’ve point blank asked him if he didn’t love me, wasn’t attracted to me, was going outside of our marriage or if he was even gay but he denied them all.
I just miss and crave the intimacy I haven’t had in years while being with him. It’s really making me start to resent him.
Here’s the thing: Affection in a long term relationship must be something that is cultivated and fanned like a flame. These situations become highly complicated after many years when children, houses, shared businesses, finances, etc., are all involved.
I am not suggesting that it’s easy to simply get up and walk away from someone — but as we discussed in the very beginning of this article, there are termites that begin to present themselves one by one.
Nobody goes from being lovey-dovey one day, to completely vacant the next.
There is a gradual regression that occurs. Warning signs and red flags show up — and “not tolerating” behavior doesn’t necessarily mean just walking away.
It can mean addressing them, talking about them, having heartfelt conversations about what you need in your relationship.
If you let it go for too long, you may have no chance at getting it back.
And then, you need to determine the best path forward for you.
9: Feeling unsupported.
A relationship is a support system. It should be somewhere that you feel safe, secure, and comfortable.
The person you’re with should be your biggest cheerleader, your biggest fan, there for anything when you need them.
They should be willing to stand behind you as you pursue all you want out of life. To sing your praises. To listen when you need to vent.
When this support doesn’t exist, it’s easy to feel discouraged or deflated. You may lose your momentum or drive. You might feel embarrassed, or unworthy, or alone in your ventures.
The right person for you should be by your side on the sunny days, and the rainy ones.
There is no room in relationships for a “fair weather” partner.
Quite simply put: Real love cannot exist without respect.
You can’t trust someone that you don’t respect.
You can’t build a real connection with someone that you don’t respect.
You definitely cannot give yourself fully to a person that you don’t respect.
And, feeling disrespected in a relationship is one of the biggest turn-offs of all. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
The fact is this: You should never be spending time around people who disrespect you in any area of life, least of all in your intimate relationships.
You’re ambitious. You have drive. You have hopes, and dreams, and a mission. Your vision for your future is clear and attainable. You’re working towards it every single day at full throttle.
Now…imagine that you’re with someone who has none of that.
You cannot get them to move forward no matter how hard you try.
They have no interest in improving themselves.
No interest in doing anything more than they’re doing right now.
No interest in getting healthier.
No interest in developing new skills.
No interest in building a life alongside of you.
Yet — some people see this as a challenge.
“I can change them!” they think; “If only I love them the right way, they’ll see what they’re capable of.”
But, alas, this only leaves you frustrated and confused, spending so much energy trying to pull them forward that you unwittingly lose momentum towards your own goals.
Don’t get me wrong — I fully believe that people can grow and improve, that is, after all, the entire basis of my coaching programs.
However, I’ve also been doing this long enough to know that there is only one way for someone to actually change:
By them making the choice to do the work and showing up every day to make it happen. It can never come from someone else — it must come from within them.
12: Taking advantage of your kindness.
I believe in giving to our partners in relationships.
I think we should always be striving to do things that make them happy, to show our love, to show them they are valued and appreciated.
I also think these efforts should be mutual.
I also think there are limits to everyone’s kindness which are based on feeling gratitude and appreciation.
If someone is taking you for granted, or (quite frankly) using you for your kindness, continuing to give to them is not noble — it’s self-sacrifice.
It’s willingly giving away your dignity to someone who is just going to walk all over it.
If you’re really being honest with yourself — I mean brutally honest — I believe that you know who these people are when they come into your life.
You know which ones you’ve dated like this, and you know if you’re dating one of them right now.
They’re not giving anything back to you in return. They’re not supporting you as you support them. They’re not there for you in the same way you’re there for them. They’re not holding up their end of the bargain.
Great relationships are not about give and take — they’re about give and give.
13: ABUSE OF ANY KIND.
If you’re wondering — yes, the all caps was necessary.
I’m going to make this direct and short:
People who actually care about you NEVER intentionally hurt you.
People who actually care about you NEVER abuse you in any way, shape, or form.
People who actually care about you NEVER take joy in your sadness.
You should have an absolute zero tolerance policy for any form of abuse in your life. Mental, physical, emotional, or otherwise.
It matters not if you’ve been together for a week or a decade, there is no excuse for intentionally harming a person you are supposed to love, and there should be no tolerance for it, either.
Seek help. Call a trusted friend. Distance yourself immediately.
You Deserve Better
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You Deserve Better Than These 13 Behaviors (Stop Accepting Them) | by James Michael Sama | Medium