Recently I was resentful, grouchy and feeling very taken advantage of in a relationship with another person. What was going on? Once I figured it out, it revived an old lesson for me about setting emotional boundaries that happened long ago.
When I was younger I was in a relationship with someone who I thought at the time was my soul-mate. (Now I’m pretty sure he was my soul-mate. He just wasn’t the romantic “we’re going to be together forever until the end of time” soul-mate. He was more of the “your despair over me leaving you, will crack you open so deep that you will start to discover all the life lessons you need to know”, kind of soul-mate).
While we were together I went through a period of extreme stress, anxiety and loneliness. Being so emotionally needy, meant I wanted this person to be around me all the time, to serve 100% of my emotional needs and fill me up. After all, he was my boyfriend, right? The only thing is, my partner was also going through a very stressful time himself. But the difference between he and I, was that he knew that when he had nothing left to give, he had to stop giving.
He knew that this was an absolute necessity, before he himself became totally depleted. I remember being so angry at him at the time. That bastard. Didn’t he know that I needed him? He was supposed to love me, how dare he withdraw. I needed his love, it was his duty to give it to me – right?
He knew, no matter how much I thought I needed his love to fill me up, that he needed his love for himself first. Giving more than he had would have depleted him, and trampled all over his boundaries. It wouldn’t have authentic to who he was.
This lesson in emotional boundaries almost sent me over the edge, as he could not be motivated by guilt (this was another lesson I learned from him, and while it aggravated me at the time, it was very valuable for me in the long run). But what he taught me by emotionally withdrawing, and not going beyond his own limits, was that when you have nothing left, you have nothing left to give anyone else. You need to emotionally replenish yourself before you can give anything to anyone else.
He knew that when he had almost nothing left, it was a necessity to go in and preserve whatever was left of his emotional energy. When he was emotionally replenished, he would come out of his emotional cocoon. From him, I learned the paradox that the more needy I was for someone else’s love, the more I needed to love myself. I learned that instead of trying to get his love, to give my own love to myself. Doing this brought me back to feeling whole again, and it reestablished my emotional boundaries.
While his standing up for his emotional boundaries certainly created strife in our relationship, it also meant that he was able to maintain his authenticity. It meant he did not go beyond his own boundaries, and remained true to himself first – no matter what the emotional cost. He knew that if he did not respect himself, in the long-term I would come to not respect him either.
Being aware of emotional boundaries is important lesson for empaths (clairsentients). When I was on the other side of the coin recently – over-giving - I was resentful, and coming to despise the person more and more. The over-giving was slowly destroying one of my most important relationships. I had to acknowledge what was happening, decide what I was willing to give and not give, and redraw my own emotional boundary in the relationship.
It is easy for us empaths, clairsentients, who feel others emotions, to have more porous emotional boundaries. After all, being open to others emotions is part of our gift. However, the downside of open emotional boundaries is that if we don’t consciously create clear intentional boundaries, we can become doormats for others to walk all over. By not drawing clear personal boundaries about what will give and not give of ourselves emotionally in relationships, we can end up over-giving. Over-giving leaves us depleted and unable to give emotionally to ourselves, or others.
Often you can start with clear emotional boundaries in a relationship, but the boundary line can drift as life circumstances change. Before you know it, all of a sudden you are feeling taken advantage of and trampled all over. Most times this is not even done intentionally, but due to life changing life circumstances. Neediness arises from the extreme fear and lack of one party in a relationship.
You may only become conscious of over-giving, if you are feeling more irritable than usual, and possibly resentful. If you keep over-giving you may even get physically ill. If you notice these symptoms, you may want to look at the emotional boundaries in your relationships. Are you both equally emotionally giving and taking from each other, or do you feel taken advantage of and drained? If so, you may have re-set your boundaries. You may have to consciously decide what you will and won’t give of yourself in your relationship with that person.
It is especially important if you are empathic, to have clear, conscious boundaries. Setting clear emotional boundaries, and respecting them, keeps you authentic to who you really are. Once you are clear on where your emotional boundaries are, you will be able to release anything above and beyond what you wish to give. You will know you have been successful in resetting this boundary, once you feel the surge of relief of any you didn’t want to take on, falling away.
Never underestimate the effect on the other person either. If you are over-giving, you are not allowing the other person the opportunity to build up his or her own emotional support. You are creating a weakness for that person. It can be amazing to see how the new emotional balance helps both parties once they are in equal balance again.
If you don’t honor who you really are, by respecting your emotional boundaries, eventually the other person won’t either. If you are willing to keep giving to them, they will keep taking, whether its conscious or unconscious. You will also not respect the other person if you are over-giving to him or her. You will come to resent them, and possibly even despise them in the end.
Over-giving prevents you from being the best you, and diminishes your relationships. Being mindful of these emotional boundaries, keeps your relationships healthy and yourself authentic. Being authentic keeps you aligned with your highest purpose – and isn’t that what your time here on Earth is all about?
Care to share any of your experiences of over-giving? or of being taken advantage of? Were you successfully able to rebalance the relationship?