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I Feel Vulnerable Being Demanding

January 26, 2012

Being demanding within the context of a romantic relationship makes me feel vulnerable. There are different kinds of vulnerability or at least different circumstances that elicit vulnerability. You can feel vulnerable when it comes to expressing feelings of love to someone for the first time, because… well… there’s always the possibility of being rejected. And in a way being demanding in regards to having my needs meet in a romantic relationship makes me feel vulnerable in that same kind of way.

I’m afraid of being rejected if I express a demand that is based in feeling. I’m afraid of falling into certain stereotypical categories of women… The jealous kind, or the needy kind, or the bitchy kind.

I’ve received a few interesting comments to the posts I’ve published over the last couple days: So My Ex is Dating Someone New and I’m Not That Kind of Girl, or Am I?, to which I would like to respond to in this context.

Ladyyaga said: I guess I what I would question is, why do you think you can’t be demanding? I’m not talking about bitchy, or selfish. But is it really selfish to ask for the things you need? Why must you be “subtle”? I think there’s an assumption deep in there somewhere that your needs are not going to be met and that there’s something very unacceptable about looking out for yourself first.

There is definitely an assumption that my needs are not going to be met, not only that, but that I will be rejected, because there’s this ingrained idea in me that to be demanding is to cause conflict, and when there’s conflict in a relationship, I always feel like if I’m not the one to keep the peace no one else will make the effort.

Obviously, I need to focus on certain personal issues. To put it simply, I need to focus on my self-esteem, confidence, and taking care of myself.

Putting that aside for a moment and getting back to the topic of vulnerability, it’s hard for me to be vulnerable, I present with a hard exterior sometimes, but a lot of that was built on the fear of being vulnerable, of being hurt,  but despite my fear of vulnerability, I think there’s power in it. Immense power. It’s the only way to be open to what the world, and the people in it have to offer.

Fruit Taster said: I second ladyyaga. What’s wrong with being demanding? I for one am a demanding person. I’m demanding with myself first—I give of myself to others without counting—and I feel that this entitles me to be demanding with others. It’s not about being bitchy or bossy, it’s really just about setting your level of expectation. This is acceptable for me, this is not.

The hard part is when you reset your expectations and you have to renegotiate the dynamics of a relationship based on your new expectations. It’s hard because the other person will resist that. Of course they would prefer you don’t raise your expectations. But in the end, if someone is able to step up to the plate, that’s usually a sign they are a keeper […]

You have to have a way to sift through what you will accept in your life. If you sift too permissively, then you’re erasing yourself in the favor of others. I wonder if this is what’s happening with you and your ex?

Fruit Taster is right, there’s nothing wrong with being demanding, with yourself and others. There’s definitely nothing wrong about setting your level of expectations and determining what is acceptable for you and what’s not. I suppose to trick is, that you really have to determine what those expectations are, what’s acceptable and what’s not, because if you head into anything without knowing at least that, you risk letting people walk all over you and that’s never good.

What’s hard though, as Fruit Taster pointed out, is changing the dynamic of an already established relationship once you do figure those things out. When a relationship has (with your parents, friends, lovers, etc) had the same dynamic for years and years it’s hard to change. After all, you can’t really change how another person behaves, you can only change yourself… I suppose it’s important to leave space and time for the transition to take place, and there’s no guarantee that all those people will stick around for this new more assertive you, but I guess the important part is knowing who you are, what you deserve, and to be true to that.

As for the last thing that Fruit Taster said: “You have to have a way to sift through what you will accept in your life. If you sift too permissively, then you’re erasing yourself in the favor of others.” I would have to say that in trying to be an understanding and accepting person, I sometimes forget to pay attention to my needs. In the aftermath of the relationship I spoke about in my earlier post, I definitely felt myself being erased in favor of the other. Something I let happen on my own, in some deep need to be loved, but as the saying goes you can’t really love someone or be loved when you don’t love yourself. Putting yourself first in that context is never selfish.

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