My Relationship catch 22

This year I gained a lot of things, but I lost a lot too. It got me started thinking about balance and the way that things come and go. I came into more money and professional success then I ever have this year, said hello to more travel, excitement, adventure and generally have felt the best I have in a long time. I have returned to myself and to my focus on my own well being and happiness. Yet, I also lost a lot of faith in people, the ability to trust openly said goodbye to a lot of friends and my fiancé after a 5 year long engagement. 

I read a lot about how success often leads to the loss of people in your life- but in my case I don’t think success caused it, I think it was merely correlated. If anything, losing people led to the increased success, not the other way around.    This realization has made me a little bitter, to say the least. Why is it that when I have people I love and value I have trouble finding time to love and value myself? 

I came to the realization that I am a giver. I have a personality that wants to do for others. Sure, this sounds like a good thing and a lot of the time it is. It has made me active in every charitable organization from soup kitchens to animal rescue. However, what makes it a bad thing is that I put too much pressure on the outcomes and the happiness of the people I do for. I want them to be happy, satisfied and deep down, I want a pat on the back as assurance that I did the right thing by them. I often will sacrifice my own well being, needs and even happiness to see to it that someone I love is happy and fulfilled. Once I said that last sentence out loud to myself I realized the fatal flaw in that set up. How could the people around me be happy, if I am unhappy? 

So now I have finally found the root problem in a lot of my failed relationships and have begun the search for an answer. What is the balance between fulfilling my need to give and do for others but no do so much that I compromise myself and my sanity in the process. How can I elevate others and myself, at the same time? At this point, I am no where near the solution to that question. I am, however, knee deep in failures, which makes me hopeful that I am getting close.

I constantly wonder whether there is a magic formula for me that would help my relationships with all people be easier, and more mutual, so I don’t constantly feel like I am having the life drained out of me… or if there is just a certain type of person I need to find, that fits well with me and would help me to find the balance? It is no coincidence that I gravitate toward people that need some help. I like to help people. The trouble with it is that I find the more I give to people, the more they take. Not just financially but energetically too. I spend a lot of energy and time trying to help people, work with them, understand them, and that energy never seems to come back around.

I’ve heard these people referred to as “Energy Vampires” and it’s a perfect term. I have found very few relationships where energy flows freely in both directions. I have also found that you can create an energy vampire in someone who has a predisposition for it by doing too much for them. At the beginning I believe in the best in people. I give and give and tell myself “ Hey, this will turn around and this person will show up for you when you need it. It’s good to invest in people.” Then a couple months or even years in I find myself saying “huhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?” while the person I invested in walks off without even a nod in my direction.

Obviously, since this is an ongoing problem for me, it’s something that I am doing that is not working. As I stated earlier I do believe a good part of the root problem is that I do too much. Period. Once my own happiness is compromised it’s too much and its destined to blow up in my face, so I need to recognize that limit BEFORE it blows up, not after. The other part of the problem is that I invest in the wrong individuals. People with selfish streaks and people who don’t follow through with their word. This last part is really the hard part. HOW DO YOU KNOW? You don’t. I have gotten better at recognizing red flags and carrying garlic to ward off obvious energy vampires— but people still find a way to bamboozle me.

The final part of this problem is me and my desire for others to be happy with me and my effort. Wanting other people to be happy sounds like a good thing- but I have come to find that it can be really detrimental. Want is a frivolous, light word and that’s the only way it works. To casually hope someone has a good time, hope that they like and appreciate you and to truly be OK if they don’t. I’m just not OK if they don’t. Im not OK if they don’t like me or are unhappy…that’s the problem. I say I don’t care- but I do. I care too much. I want people to leave feeling better for having known me or taken my class or sitting next to me on the airplane. The latter is why I am letting this elderly man rest his huge elbow on me and crush me in this middle seat. I want them to leave happier, with something they didn’t have before- I want to give. When I don’t feel I have done that I feel badly about myself and about situations.— and that bad feeling of some kind of failure on my part further pollutes the energy in the situation and the relationship. That’s my catch 22.

I have found myself in a lose lose situation that I need to work through. The positive side is that I believe all  my failures and shortcomings come from a genuinely good heart. A heart that wants to help people find comfort, success, joy, laughter, ambition, adventure and inspiration. My motives are pure and I want to form real, honest connections with people- where energy moves in BOTH directions and both parties can elevate together. I want what’s best for others and I want to believe in the best in others. I am thankful for that and I pray that it will lead me to individuals with similar hearts and minds. I don’t want to deal with anymore individuals who live in the small bubbles of their own world and obsess over only their own needs and wants. I want people who look out and want to  connect- to move forward with other people, alongside them, not by stepping on their throats to get to the top.

I’ll search tirelessly til I cultivate this tribe, I believe they’re out there and I will continue to work to better myself in the process. I am learning to be alone and can feel myself learning and growing into a better human being every day. I hope that I can find the balance I seek and I hope you find it too. I hope you find yourself in relationships that build you up, excite you and elevate you- and if you don’t, I hope you find the courage to walk away, reassess and start over again. Let’s all treat each other with a little more kindness this coming year. Let’s reach out to each other. Let’s find solutions instead of writing each other off, let’s grow up and grow forward in the way we interact with one another. Say your I’m sorry’s, face your own demons and smooth over the cracks in your personality that might be leading you to failures in your relationships. Most importantly, keep moving forward; Keep focused on what’s ahead- That’s where your life is waiting.


10 thoughts on “My Relationship catch 22

  1. Dana, I find myself going through the same type of situation. I learned to let go of certain relationships in which I have given away so much, but did not get anything that really mattered in return. It turns out they didn’t care for my personal well being, they just wanted what they could get. I believe there are people out there that truly have good hearts, not only mean what they say but also act out in accordance with their words. I also am seeking to find the same tribe. Keep doing you. Just the fact that you’re able to acknowledge everything is a great step. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. wow you stole the words right out of my mouth. couldnt have said it any better way. I can relate to you 100% and you are an amazing and talented person inside out Dana! it was a pleasure reading your blog

  3. Hi Dana,
    I know it’s been a long while since you have written this, but forgive me, I could not resist from typing this response. So hi Dana, let me introduce myself.

    My name is Kriti and I have been a longtime fan of you ever since the first time I saw you in Matt Steffanina’s dance videos. Your sharp moves, your attitude and spunk….I was (and still am) completely enthralled. I found your blog and read all the entries, and felt your kindness, no nonsense attitude, enthusiasm, desire to work hard and achieve great things and fell in love with you even more. This is besides the point I want to make, but I felt this would be great in cheering you up. Just saying, I’m going to be writing a huge essay just to make you feel better, because trust me, I know exactly how it feels when you do a lot for people and their happiness, and get not even a quarter of it in return. You have done a lot for me in terms of inspiration, so I will respond in return.

    What I want to say is “I’m so very sorry and can related deeply for all the hurt in relationships that you have experienced. I can feel from every word how much emotional pain you are going through. That pain I have experienced as well, and may I say I commend you for how you are taking it. Instead of hiding away from the rest of the world, you have chosen to kick ass in all your dance videos and classes, write and analyse yourself for all the mistakes you have supposedly made. That takes bravery and a lot of internal strength. And let me just reassure you with this.

    “Loving people and wanting to make them happy is a really good part of you, and you should definitely embrace that. But at the same time, there is one person you should love unconditionally and invest in…..take a wild guess…not your closest friend or fiancé….YOURSELF. Cannot stress this seriously enough. I know it sounds cliché and you are probably scoffing at this Tumblresque words. But trust me on this. Invest in yourself first then invest in other people. Why, you ask? Because, in the world, there are so many people with their own lives and struggles. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to fulfil your needs of happiness and contentment.. People are already preoccupied in their own little world, and if you are spending all your time and energy on neglecting your wellbeing and lavishing attention upon others, they will simply say a brief word of thanks and move off, because they got what they needed from you and don’t need anything. It’s a sad fact but that is how humans are. You are part of the 5% of people that will actually devote most of their time to others. The rest of the 95% are in their on little world. That is not to say that all of them are selfish, it’s just letting you know that not everyone will think and behave exactly how you want them to. And there is nothing you can do about it.

    It’s in your best interest to be selfish. Focus upon what you can do and what you can control. And that is, how you react and how you handle things. What other people are going to do and how they will reciprocate is not in your control. Think about it. If you could control what other people do or say, you wouldn’t have your problem in the first place. Everything would be sunshine and rainbows and life would go exactly how you want it to go. But are you going to learn anything if you don’t have a little heartbreak every now and then? No. So think of your experiences as something valuable, because they have taught you something priceless, and that is. “It is so important to love yourself first, because you are 100% in control of your own life and destiny and no body else can do what you do. No body can dance like you, no body can make you happy like you can, no body can think like you can. So cherish the fact that you are unique and have full control of your destiny. Do kind things because you want to, not because someone is expecting you to. Take care of your own needs before others. Because if you are not happy and fulfilled, how will you make others happy? It is really a win-win situation if you do both. You will make others happy and yourself.

    To do all this, I mean:

    *Spend time alone. And I mean alone. Immerse yourself in nature or just spend some quality time just thinking. And this can be whatever you want. Thinking about your life purpose….drawing….and since you dance, play some music and just dance, in public, with no inhibitions. Knowing the fact that you alone can control how you feel will make you feel so happy and empowered
    * Recognise the fact that you don’t need anybody else except for yourself. That places you in the driver’s seat of your life.
    * Evaluate every relationship you’ve had and identify where you have let people take advantage of you. Resolve to never let that happen again.
    *Stay away from the Energy sucking vampires. If you don’t want to feel and be treated like crap, then don’t hang around crappy people. it’s just that simple.
    * Focus on what make you happy and strive to reach that. If it’s taking a new class or teaching something else or learning something new….more power to you.

    That is enough for now. I just want to wrap up by saying, “You are not the only person who acts like this and feels this way. There are people who are willing to reciprocate just as much as you put in. Believe me, I have met a few people like that, and I am one yourself. There are tons of people who will love to be friends with you (me included). You should just give them a chance.

    Anyway Dana, I hope this long essay cheered you up. Keep striving, keep believing and keep hustling, and keep dreaming….you have so much to offer the world, so much to accomplish and so much to appreciate. Never forget that. It doesn’t matter how many people love you. It’s the amount of love that one person has shown you. You are strong and powerful and you are loved. Believe in that love and change the world.

    From your lifelong fan,
    P.S One day we will meet. Until then, keep hustling

  4. Dana, you are an amazing, beautiful, inspirational woman! Don’t let other people’s selfishness get you down. Your confidence is beautiful and inspiring. Don’t ever change for anyone. Just be who you are and the right people will follow.

    Love, all the way from South Africa

  5. I love this Dana! I have followed you on social media since you and Matt first met. You’re a huge inspiration and beautiful role model for women worldwide. I know exactly how you feel by giving too much. That is why I am writing a book called Silence Unchained. I’ve spent my entire life giving to others and often leaving myself abused and used in the process. What I will share with you though is God was the only healing I found for my unfairly-played and shattered heart. He will get you through this. In Christ we can do all things! I admire you because I can tell you won’t let entertainment sell you out!! Keep doing what you are doing beautiful! You will have everything you desire and more. God bless you! @ here if you ever need someone with that exchangeable energy. 💜🙏🏼🏆

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