RELATIONSHIPS should nurture, build and encourage the best and healthiest expression of you always. Unfortunately, some relationships are quite the opposite — riddled with manipulative, selfish, demanding partners that suffocate. The latter often sets the stage for the development of unhealthy behaviours often characterised by sacrificing something valuable.
All Woman asked some female readers to share regrettable experiences of things they foolishly gave up for a man:
Anika, 29, small business owner:
My mother was sending me to nursing school in Kingston — struggling to actually. Anyway, I met a rich man and he was taking care of me — he took me out of the country and soon he told me he didn't want me stressing myself out to work or even going to school. Reluctantly, I took the bait. It didn't take long for him to change, his intention was to ensure no other man saw me and to ensure he had control. Within a year and a half I returned home because the man's insecurity had made him crazy. I went back with nothing. At the time I couldn't complete school because mama was very sick. I had to take on small jobs and build up myself from there. I now have a little shop, but I can't finish school and take care of mama, so I am waiting for a break now. Looking back, I shouldn't have stopped pursuing my career. It is the worst decision I have made in my life.
Melissa, 38, IT specialist:
I would say that the most foolish thing I gave up for a man was my self-respect. I just was too blinded by love to see it. I was strong-minded, firm, confident, I had a good career, and I was in good financial standing, but I did two things wrong. One was accepting the first child that he had while married to me, and secondly financing him and his many failed “business plans”. I tried very hard to ensure that he didn't feel less than a man but I was the only one concerned about anyone in the relationship because less than two years after the first child, a second one came. That, for me, was the final straw.
Alison, 40, real estate agent:
I sacrificed a relationship with my child because of my partner and I now know it was very foolish of me. I sent my son to live with my mom because he and my boyfriend had a toxic relationship. I thought of him as a responsible boy and my mom had raised four of her own. When my mom complained about him all I did was beg my dad or brothers to talk to him because I didn't want to bring him back to the house. I watched my son become a rebel just because I wanted to keep my man so much. If I had a chance to redo things I wouldn't have made the same decision. My son and I are working on things, but I know that he still resents me for basically choosing my man over him.
Shamiel, 32, store supervisor:
We all have those couple of friends that we know the value of even when people are highly critical of them. Well, my boyfriend was one major critic of the friends I kept and you know he didn't stop insisting that I get rid of them until they stopped inviting me out because I would never turn up and I didn't go anywhere so we didn't see each other. If I wasn't around him I was around his friends and I felt like I was suffocating. I realised that I needed my friends to maintain a level head; they were a part of my healthy balance and it angered him that I needed more than “him” to function normally. But my friends had no problem dropping all they had and coming to give me their support. It wasn't long after that my girls found out about his extra-curricular activities and shared them with me.
Sharalee, 37, collections officer:
I was so into being the perfect woman and pleasing my man that I only wore what he wanted me to, and ate what he wanted me to. I mean I would literally throw away my expensive food if he thought it wasn't doing me any good, I wore what he liked and generally my life became wrapped around him. I got miserable and he enjoyed the control; I literally lost myself. No matter how much you love a man, never give up your freedom for him.