Saving a relationship where someone feels taken for granted

This post talks about unfair relationships where one side feels taken for granted, and how to bring balance back into such connections.

This post talks about unfair relationships where one side feels taken for granted, and how to bring balance back into such connections.

Let’s face it – relationships, of any kind, are not all rainbows and unicorns. Even if you are truly happy with a person, you will face serious issues at times that take honesty and open communication to overcome. Today, let’s discuss one very common problem – taking or being taken for granted, – and how to deal with it.

When you take someone for granted, you ignore the value of what they are offering or doing for you. You never pay back all the kindness and warmth they are bringing you, thus racking up invisible debt to that person, who is undeservedly left in the cold.

Just like with material liability, this kind of debt also leads to conflict if unreturned. Either the other person gets tired of giving into the void and leaves, or you start demanding even more from them without realising the value of what they’re already giving, and you drive them away. Both the scenarios are almost certain to create a deep crack on the foundation of even a previously solid, happy relationship.

Here is one tried and true way to deal with taking someone for granted or being taken for granted yourself:

Step #1

When you feel you start taking your partner for granted, or the other way around, the issue needs to be discussed immediately. No anger – just a constructive, open discussion about whether the balance of emotional give and take in the relationship may be skewed, and what can be done to resolve this.

Step #2

The party that may be lacking warmth can try to verbalise in what way they would want to receive more from the other person to feel cared for in the relationship. If you both want to save the relationship, it’s best for both that the other person listens attentively and at least tries to give what he or she is asked for. Disagreement to give more at this stage can lead to a conflict which will be very hard to rebound from.

Step #3

Finally, if there is too much anger on the side of the giver or neglect on the side of the taker already racked up, sometimes it makes sense to purposefully break the toxic bond. Of course, this is a last resort, and only a good option for situations when the relationship dynamic is clearly unfair and there’s no mutual agreement on how to fix it. But it is a solution to consider in such desperate cases nonetheless, because you don’t want to spend too much time in a bond that is not equal and nurturing. A discussion will still do wonders to liberate and lighten both parties, but if such a drastic decision is to be made, it is best to make it final. Returning to an unfair relationship down the line is very unlikely to make anyone happy, so when breaking the bond, be sure both parties truly want it broken.

Truth be told, I’ve been on both sides of this carousel – the one taken for granted and the one taking someone for granted. And I can say from experience that when these issues go unaddressed, more often than not they ultimately break the relationship. Resolving them takes a lot of delicacy and gentle communication, with plenty of understanding coming from both sides.

And one last note – if you have ever taken someone’s kindness to you for granted (be it your mom’s or your boss’s or your teacher’s or your romantic partner’s), it will do you a world of good to take a moment every day for gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown ritual – just a second of sending deep appreciation towards everything and everyone you’ve got in your life while you’re commuting to work or uni in the morning will do. It opens your eyes to the beauty that you live in each day, and makes you want to say “Thank you!” to the people who truly, undeniably deserve it, but often go unnoticed. They will certainly appreciate it if you say these words of gratitude out loud, too!

I hope the advice above serves you in some way, and I wish you many satisfying, fair and mutually nurturing relationships that enrich your life!

Enjoy your journey!

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