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How Do You Want to be Treated?

October 13, 2011

I remember when I was younger and talking to my friends about our ideal partners. We usually had a pretty detailed list of the things we wanted to find in that other person, from physical attributes to their personality, but the one thing we never listed is how we wanted to be treated in a relationship.

Some people never lose that list, they’re still looking for that person who is exactly three inches taller than them, has brown hair, blue eyes, dresses a certain way, makes a certain amount of money, etc, but I find that as I got older my list pretty much disappeared to make way for chemistry or feelings.

Sure, being physically attracted to someone is still important, but I don’t have a type when it comes to looks and I certainly don’t care what kind of car a person drives or how much money they make. What’s important is how that person will treat me.

How a person treats you in a relationship and how you treat them is what leads to happiness or pain. Let’s face it, when you get your heart broken it’s not because that other person wasn’t into the same kind of movies or had the wrong color hair, but rather all that pain stems from not having your emotional needs met.

The memories you hold on to and that hurt later on are based in action or inaction (which is just another kind of action). Not telling someone you love them speaks just as loudly as telling them you do, but we also have to remember that letting someone know you love them isn’t always about words.

There’s this book out there called The Five Love Languages, and although I’ve never read it, I agree with its premise, which is that in a relationship we have to learn how each partner expresses their love, because we don’t all speak the same language.

The five languages of love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of services, and physical touch, are what we use in a relationship to express how we feel. Some people may be more comfortable buying gifts than saying the words, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It’s about understanding how both partners express and understand love. I mean, it’s all fine and good to buy someone gifts all the time, but if they don’t understand that to mean you love them, you might have to find out what being loved means to them.

All of which boils down to how you want to be treated in a relationship as opposed to all those other things you look for in another person.

What got me thinking about all this in the first place was Adria Richards’ blog post 15 Things I Learned Dating The Right Guy.

Her list:

  1. He will go out of his way to make you feel special.
  2. He will make an effort to get ahold of you.
  3. He will look for ways to make your life easier.
  4. He lives to make you laugh.
  5. He will consider how something might affect you before sharing news with you yet won’t withhold if it’s important.
  6. He will touch you in ways that say, “I respect you and care about you” vs “I can’t wait to devour you like a hungry animal”.
  7. He will easily pass the judgment of your friends and roommates.  No need to explains quirks and weird-isms.
  8. He will remember things you tell him and find ways to surprise you with references to those things.
  9. When you look into his eyes, you will see his adoration and respect for you.
  10. He will like you for the whole package, not parts of you.
  11. He’s willing to try new things with you.
  12. He wants to share his favorite experiences with you…and try yours.
  13. He will call you on your bullshit yet listen carefully to your answer to show he cares.
  14. He will share ideas, stories and aspirations with you.
  15. He will let you in during the times he feels down without bringing you down too.

Now, there’s a dating list I can agree with (for the most part). I mean, this is how I want to be treated, because ultimately this is how I will treat the person I love. It’s not about getting back what you give, but that you treat other people like you want to be treated.

Reading that list kind of shook me a little, because in a way it’s so obvious, I feel I should have thought about it before now. So much of the pain from my previous relationship resulted from many of these key points not being met. I just wasn’t treated right, but still I wanted that relationship so bad that I kept going back for more just to get kicked in the face over and over…huh, not literally.

It should be a given, if a person doesn’t treat you like you deserve, need, or want then that should be it. That’s the ultimate test. It’s that big neon flashing sign that says no good, stop, turn around, don’t pursue this relationship, because no matter how much chemistry there is it’s not going to be worth it. It won’t end well, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Love doesn’t cure all.

Knowing yourself and how you want to be treated before committing to a relationship is the key here. Otherwise, you’re just flying blind and will undoubtedly crash into walls thinking that if you just love enough, that if your enough the walls will magically move out of your way, but it doesn’t work that way, and when you eventually crash and burn you’ll be left wondering “what’s wrong with me?” instead of loving yourself enough to say no to being treated a certain way.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 7:39 am

    Right on! There is a difference between how our partner is and how that partner makes us feel. How he/she is, that’s an absolute. How you feel alongside them though depends on who you are. It’s like what you said: it depends on your expectations, on how you read love, on what your emotional needs are… You need a match. And the match is not based on whether you like the same movies.

    I’m surprised how many people I know are in bad relationships and accept it as the way it is despite the unhappiness and pain. I think it’s a lack of what you’re talking about, a lack of compassion, a lack of trying to understand the other person’s needs and how they communicate love. Too often it seems like it’s the opposite. Resentment sets in and it becomes a standoff. The more resentment there, the less will there is to try to bridge and understand. Anyway, I’m going off-topic here.

    Thanks Olga!

  2. October 24, 2011 7:28 pm

    @ Fruit Taster: Thanks for commenting on this post. At least someone read it. Haha! But seriously, dude, you get it. And I don’t have anything to add because you’ve said it all already. Completely agree.

  3. Cate permalink
    October 24, 2011 10:31 pm

    Oh dear Olga, Fruit Taster is far from being a dude 😉

  4. October 24, 2011 10:39 pm

    I call all my friends dude. I didn’t mean it to be gender specific. 🙂

  5. October 24, 2011 10:40 pm

    …or to mean anything but a term of endearment.

  6. October 24, 2011 11:06 pm

    I will take it as a good sign then, dude. 😉

  7. October 24, 2011 11:13 pm


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