“You should never have to look for evidence that someone loves you. True love is crystal clear.”
~ Mandy Hale
Before creating a committed and loving relationship with someone else, you must create it with yourself.
1. Start by creating a life that is meaningful to you by taking a look at your values.
- “What’s important to me?”
- “What motivates and recharges me?”
- “What are the beliefs and ideas I hold the most dear?”
When you figure that out, set active short, medium and long term personal goals that are aligned with your values. Do you value creativity? Then make sure you prioritize creative ventures. Do you value love and friendship? Then be present and foster the relationships that give you that fulfillment.
The road that our values lead us on will inevitably lead us to walking alongside with others whose values mirror our own. Birds of a feather.
2. Know yourself and love yourself.
We are all unique and deserving of love. Knowing what makes you you and taking pride in that distinction will pave the way for what’s most important: for you to appreciate and love yourself.
This is so important because being the placeholder in a relationship may illicit feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and doubt.
Work through the discomfort of rejection and start on the road to self-care by realizing that someone’s inability to be in a committed relationship with you is not your fault. It is their path and choice, not yours.
You are deserving of love and someone who does not appreciate your effort simply does not deserve it. Know this, and do not accept anything less moving forward.
Confidence also has another “ulterior” benefit.
Not only will it be integral to your mental health and through the ups and downs of any relationship to come, but that unwavering comfort exudes confidence and peace, which is bound to attract people who truly see you and appreciate you.
3. Knowing how to love and how to communicate.
What love language do you speak? How do you show love? You can find the answers to this through a simple quiz here.
When you know how you best receive love, you can communicate that to your partner, such as “uninterrupted quality time is really important to me, I feel the most connected to you when we spend time together without any distractions, like phones, TV, etc.”
You also start picking up on how others show and receive love.
Knowing how your partner receives love is important because it leads to deeper connection and improved communication. Maybe your partner values physical touch more than you do or requires more words of affirmation.
It is okay not to speak the same love language as your partner, but it is necessary to take the steps to be bilingual in your love acceptance and expression.
When you have a partner whose values align with yours, whom you know, love and accept (and vice versa) and you communicate with love at the core of your arguments, you will inevitably grow closer together from any disagreement. This is true commitment.
Maria Yepez, B.A., M.S., LMHC – www.mariayepeztherapy.com
Are you in a relationship and feeling uncertain about whether your partner sees a future with you or not feeling as connected as you’d like to be?
Uncertainty and lack of clarity in relationships can bring up feelings of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt.
Feeling insecure in your relationship can lead to less vulnerability and connection as you may be guarding yourself from the fear of being hurt or losing your partner.
This fear of losing connection makes sense, as humans we are wired for connection, it is one of the very first things we seek when we enter this world and its importance continues into adulthood.
If you’re feeling ready to increase commitment and connection in your relationship, I recommend first identifying what you are hoping for by reflecting on the following questions:
- What do you want in your relationship with your partner?
- What does this mean to you?
- How will you know when you have what you want in your relationship?
- What is at stake if your relationship doesn’t change?
Reflecting on the questions above can help you better understand what you are seeking with your partner and wanting in your relationship together.
If you want more commitment in your relationship and feel that meeting your partner’s friends and family would be a step in this direction, you have something concrete to ground a discussion in and this gives your partner something to aim for if they want the same.
Tip: When asking for change in a relationship it is helpful to identify and communicate what you do want to see happen versus what you don’t want.
The idea is that if your partner knows what they can do, they can more easily move in that direction. If you only communicate what you don’t want, this doesn’t offer them a clear understanding of what will be helpful.
The most important step in gaining clarity and moving your relationship toward more commitment is to talk with your partner about what you are noticing, what you are hoping for in your relationship, and what’s at stake for you.
Through this discussion you will find if your partner has been feeling the same as you have or if they have been feeling differently.
As painful as it would be to gain the clarity that your partner does not want the same future as you do, you can now make an informed decision for yourself based on your feelings and needs and move out of the uncertainty that you may be feeling stuck in.
Lauren Skuba, MA, MFTC – www.positivespace-therapy.com
Most people have been in relationships that do not work out. But I think it is a lot less common for people to be in relationships in which they are just placeholders. And this can be a tough and sad spot to be in. Below are some ways to tell if you are just a placeholder and tips to change that.
One sign that you might just be a placeholder for your boyfriend is that he does not make long term plans.
He may just be making plans for the next day or within the week. If they are not thinking about long term plans with you, that could be a sign that he is looking for someone else to be his “one.”
It is also possible you are a rebound for your boyfriend.
By being a rebound it could help ease the pain of a breakup for him and make the transition easier. One appeal of a rebound is it is a whirlwind and can be hot and sexy. Although a rebound can work, both you and your boyfriend would have to commit to working on your own issues separately.
If you feel like your relationship is stagnant that could be another sign that you are a placeholder in your relationship.
It might be that you and your boyfriend have been together for a significant amount of time but you have not met his close family and friends. This could mean that he is not that serious about you and that is why he does not want to introduce you to the people that are important in his life.
Another important component of healthy relationships is respect for each other.
If he is not showing you respect this could also mean that you are a placeholder. Respect in a relationship is important because it shows that you are equal partners. Honesty and love are important as well.
One suggestion to avoid being a placeholder is creating a life that is meaningful to you.
Some questions to ask yourself are: “What is important to me?” “What do I want in a partner?” “What are my beliefs?” Once you answer these questions maybe make some short, medium and long term goals.
Also, another important step is to love and know yourself.
We are all very different and to love yourself as an individual is very important. If you know you then you can find a boyfriend that fits you and your personality.
Another important aspect in a relationship is to know your own love language and get to know your boyfriend’s love language.
By knowing your own love language you can communicate with your boyfriend how you like to be loved and how you show your love. It is also helpful for you to know your boyfriend’s love language so you can reciprocate those feelings.
You are deserving of love and if someone cannot commit, they are not deserving of your love.
Hollis Wall, MA, LMHCA – www.wallehollis.com
First and foremost, I believe it is so important to know where you both stand when you start dating.
Some people think it’s too soon or “pushy” to talk about wanting a relationship, marriage, kids, whatever, before the dating process begins, but I say “Hell, put it on your dating profile!”.
Being upfront with what you want will attract same-minded individuals with similar goals and also saves you a whole lot of wasted time.
However, if you go into a relationship where both people have stated that they want a long term commitment, but it seems like he’s not really showing up or seeming invested, and your communication efforts around it are being ignored or swept under the proverbial rug, the question to ask yourself is:
Why am I still feeling compelled to stay in this kind of situation?
- Are you looking to change someone?
- Are you hoping that he will suddenly realize how amazing you are and start showing up differently?
- Are you recognizing your full worth as an amazing being?
- Are you basing your self worth on your ability to make this person love you?
The key to stop being a placeholder is to recognize that you aren’t one!
Do the work from then on of what you need from yourself to fully realize that truth. It’s to look in the mirror and remind yourself that you ARE worthy, and you deserve someone who will put in the same efforts that you do, and that your power isn’t in your ability to try to change other people – it’s in your ability to change yourself.
Meaning, to challenge those internal thoughts of unworthiness, to recognize all of your glorious inherent worth, and to value yourself enough to walk away from situations that are feeling one-sided.
People treat us the way we allow them to treat us.
So if you’re feeling pretty sure that he’s not into it, or that he’s holding on to you until something “better” comes along in his eyes, don’t choose him – choose yourself.
Leah Webster, LCMHC – www.lovethrivestherapy.com
You are not meant to be a placeholder. You are meant to be loved, cherished, respected and valued as the beautiful woman that you are!
Agreeing to be a placeholder is simply a strategy that some part of you believes will bring you what you want.
If you can be unassuming, undemanding, unobtrusive then he will ‘choose you.’ Okay, let’s get this straight. That’s not how the equation works!
In order to free yourself from this role, you need to first understand what part of you unwittingly signed up to be a placeholder.
It’s not what your heart truly wants. You want a lovely committed relationship but you have aspects of yourself that doubt your worth.
He doesn’t treat you like a placeholder while he waits for the ‘right woman’ or a ‘better woman’, because there is something wrong with YOU.
He puts you in that role because you allow him to.
I’m not judging. Trust me. I’ve been there, too. So, I am going to share a few action steps you can take.
Realize that you cannot be loved and valued by a high-quality man until you love and value yourself as the amazing woman you are.
Create and hold clear boundaries.
Quality men respect a woman who loves herself and sets clear boundaries. A boundary can mean not sleeping with him on the first few dates. Make him work.
Men value what they have to work for. This does not mean playing games. You make him wait so that you can determine if he is worthy of your time, attention, effort and commitment.
Do not accept last minute dates.
You need to show him that you already have a fun, fulfilling, interesting life. If he doesn’t set up a date for the weekend by early to mid-week, you need to make other plans. AND you need to keep those plans!
No late-night booty calls. If you hear nothing from him until it’s last minute and late at night, he wants you for one thing and one thing only. BOOTY!
If you set boundaries and he pushes back, have the courage and strength to walk away.
If you set boundaries and he walks away, good. It means you dodged a bullet. He is not the quality man you are looking to commit to.
Until you feel confident that this man admires and cares for your heart as much as your body, don’t give your heart to him.
I believe in you. Believe in yourself. Be courageous. That’s when the magic starts!
Martina G Barnes, MS, LCMHC – www.martinabarnes.com
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are a placeholder.
What does this mean?
It means you are keeping the spot warm while he waits for the next best thing. Yes, that sounds harsh, but when you are in it, it’s hard to recognize at first glance. If you have seen this as a problem that needs fixing, you are in the right place.
I tell my clients who struggle in relationships that they first need to find out who they are apart from the relationship.
The first person you love, should always be you.
If you feel you cannot live without someone, this is a problem. No person can be there for your every need, and if you think this is the case, you are sadly mistaken.
Every woman should be able to walk away from a relationship that she feels is not healthy and know she has plenty to offer the world.
So, if you feel you are a placeholder, ask yourself what makes you good enough, in fact fabulous, on your own. What do you have to offer the world and why are you okay with or without him?
Secondly, you should ask yourself why you are even in this position.
- What is going on with you internally that you feel at this point it is okay to be a placeholder to a man and not a priority?
- Are you even ready for a committed relationship, and if you are, are you struggling with a low sense of self worth or desperation?
This takes some soul searching but is definitely worth the effort.
After you have examined yourself and figured out who you are as a person, where you stand on your own and why you are attracting this type of relationship, it’s time to walk away.
This may not happen right away, but after doing your own work, I know you will come to the conclusion that this relationship has reached an end date.
You are worth more than this. No, I am not going to tell you to act mysterious or join his hobbies in an effort to become a priority to him.
Remember, if you can’t be uniquely you, you shouldn’t be with him.
So how do you create a space for a long term and loving relationship in your life?
First, figure out who you are, get rid of the toxic relationship, decide what you want, and settle for nothing less.
I tell my clients to write a list of non negotiable traits in a future partner. This is the list you will have to stick to.
Hopefully, by now you have learned from past mistakes and realize what is and isn’t acceptable in a future mate. The longer you give into non negotiable character flaws, the longer the wait in finding the right relationship for you.
Remember, nobody is perfect, but someone out there is perfect for you!
Shantala Boss, MS, LMHC, RPT – www.shantalaboss.com
If you find yourself in a situation in which you think, or know, that you are in the role of a placeholder, you will want to give yourself an opportunity to imagine what a great relationship would look like for you.
If you imagine game nights with friends, exploring different restaurants, or Sunday football games at your sister’s house then it’s okay to expect that.
Now, that’s not to say if you find someone who works on Sundays and can’t go to your sister’s that you have to end it, but maybe it does if that’s something that is important to you and could become problematic after a while.
But, if you are dating someone who doesn’t get along with you friends, never seems to want to go out in public together, or refuses to meet your family then it’s a good sign that you aren’t in the same place and an indicator that you probably don’t want to invest too much energy in the relationship.
In any relationship, and certainly in one where you are a placeholder, it’s important to think about whether this person mostly fills your cup or empties it.
Do you feel good after spending time together or do you feel drained or bad about yourself?
Maybe you really feel good when you spend time with this person, and it’s disappointing that you don’t necessarily have the same intentions for the relationship.
Can you honor that this is great for now and that it’s meeting certain needs and have some awareness around it and avoid putting any additional expectations on the relationship?
But, if you find yourself drained or disappointed after spending time with this person, then the relationship ultimately is not serving you, and it’s important to know that there is an impact to maintaining a relationship that only takes from your cup.
Ultimately, when we spend time with people or do things that fill our cup, then we can make decisions with more clarity and we can handle the challenges that present.
When that hard thing happens like a stressful day at work, a hard conversation, or a break up, we can handle it in a healthier way.
Lauren Hartz, MS, LPC – www.rootedandrisingtherapy.com
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