This is How I’m Learning to Demand Respect From Others

Dena Landon

By Dena Landon | Oct 9th, 2018

Summer loving, had me a blast…until my one-month relationship fizzled out. We’d started dating mid-July. Our first date lasted for three hours, and apparently, I played it so cool he didn’t know if he was going to get a second one. Because we both freelance, we could meet up for coffee in the afternoon before picking up our kids. I thought it was going really well, until about a week before Labor Day.

His work got busy, he had some intense deadlines. As a freelancer myself, I got it. But after the third canceled date, I stared at my phone and held an internal debate. Did I like him? Yes. We’d gone on some amazing dates, a romantic dinner on a gorgeous restaurant patio, holding hands on a walk through my favorite conservatory, even a soccer game. But I didn’t like sitting around wondering what was going on, or why I hadn’t heard from him.

The message I composed was short and to the point. I called him out on some timing issues and concluded with, “Why don’t you call/text when you have time to hang with me? Cancellations and me asking to meet are starting to hurt. I’ll be around.”

While we texted a bit after that, and he was both polite and honest with me, I haven’t seen him in a few weeks. I’m disappointed, yes, but I also feel a lot of peace about it. Because I’m proud that I didn’t just let it drag out indefinitely, and that we both treated each other respectfully. And I’m viewing it as another step forward in my evolving journey to respecting others and myself. A big part of this journey has been embracing and expressing the concept of boundaries.

It’s been happening in my professional life, too. A client of mine kept texting at six, seven, or nine p.m. My phone kept pinging in the middle of hanging out with my kid, and I’d finally had enough. I composed a short, polite text asking her to please only text during business hours.

How often is it that we’re afraid of losing something that isn’t too great, anyway?

When I hit ‘send,’ I put my phone in a drawer and walked away. I was scared to read her response, afraid I’d be fired. When I finally got up the courage to pull it out again, all was well. She understood my boundary and promised not to text after five p.m. again.

I’d been afraid of losing the client, but instead, I’d created a better working environment for myself.

I think that’s why so many women struggle with setting boundaries – we’re afraid of loss. If we stand up for ourselves, what if we lose the relationship? My one-month relationship could have told me off, or my client could have fired me. Except…neither of those relationships was working that well to begin with.

How often is it that we’re afraid of losing something that isn’t too great, anyway? I’m a fixed sign, a Scorpio, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many awful jobs that I’ve stuck with, or horrible relationships I’ve clung to, because the known was better than stepping out into the unknown.

I took that first big step into the unknown when I left my ex-husband, and it’s cascaded through my life in positive ways ever since.

Divorced women have experience with loss. It hurts. But we’ve also learned that staying in relationships that aren’t working, whether personal or professional, hurts more. Politely demanding respect isn’t rude; it’s knowing your worth. I’m worth more than a man who’d cancel three dates in a row. The quality of work I provide my client is worth what she pays. Therefore, I can stand firm and demand more respect for my time.

The more I learn how to take the risk and walk away from things that aren’t serving me, the more good things come into my life to take their place. I fired another, borderline abusive, client last week and immediately got two new clients to take their place. People that I’m excited to work with and who, in initial discussions, appreciate my skills. I have two dates next week.

If there’s something in your life that you’ve been clinging to, even though it isn’t serving you, consider letting it go to make room for something better. Take the leap of faith and step into a more authentic ‘you.’ The Universe will meet you with open, loving arms. And I’ll be cheering for you, too.

Dena Landon

Dena Landon

Dena Landon's bylines have appeared in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Salon and more. The proud mom of a boy, she specializes in parenting and divorce.


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