"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)

Paula's Biggest Relationship Mistake

by Paula Renaye

My relationship story includes many common 'wrong turns': doing what others expect of you; believing you have no choices; thinking that relationships are all-important (even 'wrong' relationships); self-sabotage, etc. And it also includes the dreaded rebound relationship, where I clearly demonstrate I'd learned nothing...

QUESTION: Paula, what is your biggest relationship mistake ?


First of all, I echo Steve's words*—all of them. Well said! His story is an uncanny mirror image of my own.

Specifically, my biggest relationship mistake was creating my life based on the misguided belief that I had to be married in order to be "good" and "okay." There are many twists on the theme, but in general, that's what compelled me to get married at the ripe old age of 18. Well, that and the fact that I'd had sex with the guy so I had no choice but to marry him—who else would want me, right?

Now, in your neck of the woods, that reasoning may sound melodramatic or even insane, but here in the Southern US, I assure you that way of thinking is sadly still alive and well.

Thus, having made my bed, so to speak, I also "had no choice" but to walk away from my scholarships and a promising journalism career because it made my new husband uncomfortable. Wish I were kidding, but no. It was the only way I could stay married. And let's face it, being a divorced 19-year-old was a worse fate than the one that got me into the mess in the first place! What would "they" say about that!

So, I did everything I'd consciously sworn I wouldn't and stayed married for almost 25 years. Then, like many of us do, I immediately jumped into another relationship, which was like all the bad stuff from the marriage on steroids.

And, unfortunately, that deeply ingrained subconscious belief that I would literally die without a man was still driving the boat. The very thing that I had to do to get healthy—get out of the relationship—was the very thing my subconscious believed would kill me.

For me, the only way out of that self-sabotaging loop was to understanding how I got into it and consciously work to change those beliefs. And the first place I had to start was by respecting myself. Loving myself was totally out of the question—I didn't get what that even meant—but I understood respect.

So, my litmus test for my thoughts, decisions and actions became: Would a person with high self-esteem and self-respect do what I'm doing? Think what I'm thinking? Tolerate what I'm tolerating? And then I dug into the "why or why not" to define it.

Once I held myself accountable for respecting myself, everything became a whole lot clearer.

Give it a try!

About Paula

Image of Paula Renaye

Paula Renaye is author of Hardline Self Help Handbook, and she will be publishing a book called Living and Loving on Purpose--Get Real and Get the Relationship You Really Want in 2012.

* Note: This is Steve's Relationship Story that I referred to at the beginning

Comments for Paula's Biggest Relationship Mistake

Steve's Response to Paula
by: Steve

Paula, it's funny that you think our stories mirror each others, because on the surface they clearly do not: I'm stil never married at 46, whilst you married at 18 (and the marriage lasted 25 years)...

But I take your point, in that it's the issues (and beliefs) behind our relationships that are similar, they just produced different outcomes.

But if you focus on the issues: self-respect; knowing what you want; listening to others, but making your own choices - then you've got a much better chance at being in a great relationship, I agree.

And I absolutely love the questions you ask yourself, nowadays, about whether a person of high self esteem would do this...

Thanks for 'sharing' here, and I look forward to others both asking relationship questions and giving their answers - we ALL know more than we realise...


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