Being a martyr isn’t good for you or your partner
Does it ever feel like all you do is give and give? And instead of giving back to you, all others do is take?
When you are stuck in a pattern of self-sacrifice, of ignoring your own needs for the sake of pleasing others, you’re likely to attract a partner who is selfish and greedy.
We teach others how to treat us with every interaction.
When you insist on only giving without receiving in return, when you make it clear that you will freely offer up everything you have to give with no expectation of reciprocation, you may very well attract the kind of person who wants to squeeze every last drop out of a relationship and then discard the used up partner so they can move on and do it all over again. This person may be charming and charismatic. They may be attractive and even seem kind at first. But the kind of person most likely to be attracted to a martyr tends to be the narcissist who will eagerly take all the martyr has to give.
If you recognize that you are a martyr in a relationship with a narcissist, don’t despair.
Remember that this recognition is a very important first step. It gives you the self-awareness you need to start changing your patterns and your life. If you are in an abusive relationships, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially, please seek help immediately from the national domestic abuse hotline, local authorities, or a qualified professional.
But what if your partner isn’t a narcissist? What if they are just a normal person who has fallen into this pattern along with you?
Martyring yourself signals to those around you that you don’t believe your needs are important — that you don’t believe that YOU are important.
And if you don’t believe it, how can you expect anyone else to believe it for you? Even if you are with someone who is good and kind and wants what is best for you, you may be teaching them not to consider you, not to ever put you first because you never put yourself first. You may even be sacrificing yourself to do things for them they never asked for and don’t even want you to do. If this is the case, you may be pushing them away by making the relationship so uneven that they can never feel like they are doing enough. Especially if they are someone with a sense of healthy boundaries.
When you insist on martyring yourself in a relationship, you deprive your partner of the opportunity to give back.
You don’t allow them the joy of learning how to love and take care of you. You may have put them in the role of taking too much, whether they want to or not. They may even feel smothered by the sense of owing you more than they can ever repay. They may feel a sense of guilt that their contribution to the relationship is insignificant compared to yours.
A truly joyous relationships is one based on the free and generous exchange of energies. A give an take that flows back and forth between you. A reciprocal cycle that may not always be exactly even day by day on a score card, but that overall feels equal and good.
Trying to turn around an established relationship where you have been martyring yourself from the start can be difficult.
Once you have been in a situation like this for a while, you will start to feel exhausted and resentful. But because you are supposed to be the kind of person who always puts the needs of others first, you probably won’t express your need for rest and appreciation in a straight forward way. Instead, you become passive-aggressive because that is the only way for a martyr to express dissatisfaction without breaking out of their established martyr role.
However, shifting a martyr relationship into a healthy one can be done if both people want it.
You will have to adjust to the uncomfortable feeling of letting another do things for you, and yes, even expressing your own wants and needs with the intention of letting another fulfill them. You will have to learn how to receive, to allow another to offer you the attention, compassion, and help that you need. Your partner will have to adjust to doing things for themselves that you have been doing for them. They will have to reconnect with their own innate generocity to express their positive feelings for you through action.
Both of you will need to practice self-awareness and patience as you shift the relationship into a healthier balance, but when you get there, the energetic boost you both will experience will be worth it.
When you combine the self-awareness you have now achieved to recognize your own part in creating the self-sacrifice pattern you are in, with the self-love to set healthy boundaries and receive the love you need, and gratitude for all in your life that is good, you have the three keys necessary to change negative behavior patterns in your relationship.