When Kindness Isn’t Kind

I’ve always prided myself on being a good person. That means saying “please” and “thank you” to servers, being amiable when I meet new people, helping an old person reach something on the top shelf at the grocery store, spending hours making a homemade card for a friend, the list goes on.

One area of my life where that kindness hasn’t always translated into the best results for me is dating. Here are just some of the things my niceness made me do:

  • Go on an extra date with someone I did’t feel a spark with because the thought of rejecting them made me feel too guilty
  • Stay way too long on dates where I wasn’t enjoying myself
  • Not date other people while I was seeing someone I wasn’t exclusive with because I thought they would be hurt if they found out (even though they were doing the exact same thing)
  • Constantly rearrange or cut my own plans short so I could accommodate someone else’s schedule
  • Spend time and money planning surprises and gifts for men who would eventually tell me they’d fallen in love with someone else

At this point you’re thinking, that’s not being nice…that’s being a total doormat! And yes, I was absolutely a doormat, but it took some time and distance to see that.

This is the thing about kindness, you’re not really being kind if you’re hurting someone, and in all these situations I was hurting someone: me.

I was all too willing to put my own needs and desires on the back-burner. I did everything I could to make the other person in the situation happy, even at the expense of my own happiness. When I got upset that someone I was seeing didn’t communicate with me enough between dates, I swallowed my own disappointment, I reasoned that he had a much more demanding job than me and didn’t have as much time to text, I convinced myself I was unreasonable to expect more from him. (P.S. It’s interesting how all those people who claim to be bad texters magically find the time to text the girls they like).

I don’t know when I convinced myself that speaking up about what I want isn’t “nice,” but I wasn’t doing anyone any favors with that attitude. Eventually all my resentment would boil over, and I’d get frustrated with someone for not doing the thing I’d never asked them to do in the first place. Sure, in many of those situations they probably knew better, but in some of them they didn’t. By the point I confessed all the things I was unhappy about, it would often be too late. They were all ready to move on, but we would both sit there for a bit wondering what would have happened if I’d just been up front about everything from the get-go.

If I’m being very honest, my acts of kindness weren’t always motivated solely by my need to brighten someone’s day. That was definitely part of it, but it was also because I wanted people to like me. That’s why I shipped my ex’s favorite cookies to him across the country and set up a whole spa in my apartment complete with my very own proprietary spa water and diced fruit to help him relax when he was stressed from work. As it turns out, if someone isn’t investing in you, doing this kind of stuff isn’t going to make them like you more. They’re going to keep treating you the exact same way, and now they’ll know that no matter how little they give, you’re still going to spoil them with your time and affection.

Whenever a man I was dating would choose someone else, I would always wonder what the other woman gave him that I couldn’t. I mean, here I was leaping at every chance I could to accommodate his time, protect his feelings, do nice things for him, go out of my way trying to figure out how I could make our time together more special. What else could this other woman possibly be doing??

I’m pretty sure the answer is, she wasn’t doing any of that stuff. I’m guessing she was honest about her needs, and she didn’t invest 110% into someone who was only giving her 20%. She made it clear with her words and actions that they’d have to start giving more if they wanted to get more.

So if I can impart some hard-earned wisdom to you it’s this: asking for what you want doesn’t make you less nice. Expecting someone to treat you with the same respect you give them doesn’t make you less nice. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you less nice.

You can still be a good person and get everything you want. So, let’s all start being a little kinder, first and foremost, to ourselves.

6 thoughts on “When Kindness Isn’t Kind

  1. Great post and so relatable. It’s funny how we’re taught as kids that putting other people’s needs above our own is love. I wish we were taught more about self love and setting up boundaries. I learnt this all the hard way – a very ugly breakup with someone that I didn’t mean a lot to. I’m glad you’ve gotten there but I wish it had been an easier path to get there. ❤️

    Like

  2. I was also the kind of person who put others’ needs before my own and that made me very unhappy. I’m being a bit more selfish these days 🙂

    Like

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