Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Dilemma of the Longsuffering

It seems like in many relationships, whether they're with family members, friends, or romantic partners, there's always one person who is more of a peacekeeper than the other. In healthy relationships, sometimes I can't always tell who is more patient than the other, but in unhealthy, unbalanced relationships, it can be a lot more obvious, even to total strangers.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the quality of being "long-suffering" in relationships and how it hasn't much served me in the long run over the years. Some of us tend to attract more high maintenance personalities than others, and I am one of them. I could go into the whole psychology of why, but that's not really what I want to focus on with this post...

Recently, I found myself at a crossroads with a friend of mine. I had been working with this person for over three years on a personal writing project, and although in my mind I saw us as more friends than business partners, this person ultimately didn't see it that way. I kept allowing this person to call the shots as far as when we'd meet, how often we'd meet, and what we'd talk about when we got together (even if it was the person complaining about the same personal issues over and over again).

I had picked up on little clues over the years that this person has a rather ugly temper, despite being a normally charming human being. But I never imagined actually being on the other end of this temper! Then the phone call happened. After this completely jarring phone conversation in which this person yelled at me, cursed at me, and cut me off because she was feeling "frustrated" with her project, I realized I had officially hit my limit with what I would endure. Long story short, I expressed my displeasure at being spoken to that way, but this person was only able to see her side of the problem. She also couldn't bring herself to apologize because she didn't feel she was wrong. That particular relationship is now over.

Also recently, I found myself enduring subtle jabs and complaints from someone I worked with, and since I had recently had the miserable phone call with the other person that you just read about, the pitfalls of being long-suffering were strong on my mind. I decided that rather than endure this second person's horrible attitude and rudeness toward me, I would call her out on the carpet about it right then. I did so respectfully but also firmly. It was uncomfortable getting into that conflict, but we were able to discuss it as adults, and she saw the error in her ways (or at the very least she respected the fact that her behavior bothered me), and now, she keeps her attitude to a minimum when she's around me. I saved myself from having to deal with that sort of unwanted negativity, and the likelihood of it happening in the future is now minimal.

The problem I've seen, not only with myself but with other people, in letting bullies and/or martyrs get their way is that the manipulative behavior tends to continue. And it continues until it reaches a boiling point. Some people are able to endure it for years, even decades, but there always seems to be a tipping point when the person can take it no longer. Tackling those red flags early on is a way to save people a lot of wasted time.

One reason I have, over the years, allowed people to treat me badly is a lack of courage to stand up for myself. Once I realized that I deserved to have my needs met just as much as the next person, it became a lot easier to speak out instead of remain long-suffering. But it was a long process getting there.

Do you consider yourself a long-suffering type of person? How long does it usually take you to reach the tipping point of putting up with bad behavior? 




  1. Can I relate to this? You bet. To my detriment, I give 'friends' far too much benefit of the doubt; but when the day comes when they cross that magic line, I'm done. How long does it take? It depends on the person, the depth of my involvement and how long I've had the blinders on. Great blog.

    1. Yeah, for sure the length of time we put up with bad behavior depends on who it is, how involved we are (or how much we think we need the relationship), and of course how much time we've already invested. But it's never too late to tell yourself you deserve better and to put your foot down! :)

  2. Hell yeah. Not so much in friendships. Relationships, yes. I got out of a terrible one. 10 years worth. No matter how hard I tried to please, she wanted more. Give an inch, she would take 10 miles.

    1. Gosh. Well, at least it was only 10 years and not 20 or 30!

    2. For real! LOL! I did get a wonderful kid out of it though. It wasn't really all that bad until about the last 3 years. It is a long tangled story.

    3. Well, I am glad that something very good came out of it!