Do you think that's true?
I don't think it's always true. I don't think that every time someone mistreats us or hurts us or abuses us, it's because we've done something to tell them that's OK. But when someone in our lives repeatedly treats us poorly in some way, and we allow it to continue, then I think we are teaching them that it's OK to treat us that way.
And I'm not talking about instances of ongoing abuse. I don't think I taught my father that it was OK to abuse me. I'm talking about ongoing relationships between consenting adults, adults equal in power.
There's this guy I've been seeing for just a little while. Like a few weeks. I like him a lot but he's got a lot going on in his life and I think he probably needs to get his stuff straightened out before he pursues a relationship. That's not up to me to decide, though. What is up to me is what I will and will not put up with in a relationship.
So tonight I sent him an email and basically said, "Hey, I really like you, but this is not going to work for me. I value myself more than this."
He didn't do anything awful. He's a nice guy. I believe he cares about me. But he's got too much other stuff going on and there's not much room in his life for me right now and that just doesn't work for me. Because, you know, I value myself more than that. And I'm not going to teach him, or anyone else, through repeated interactions, that it's OK for them to value me less than that.