I was recently talking to one of my mentors, and he asked me a question that caught me off guard. He asked me to identify an area of my life where I’ve been chronically undervaluing myself and why. For example, some ways that people tend to undervalue themselves include,
- Staying in a hapless job when a promotion is long overdue
- Doing freelance work and charging less than you’re worth
- Relationships and staying with someone who makes you miserable
The one about relationships rang true to me. I didn’t get my first girlfriend until I was 20 years old. However, a few weeks into the relationship it became abundantly clear that we were not a good match. She had previously been cheated on by her ex-boyfriend in high school, so she had a lot of trust issues while we were going out. For example, she would sometimes ask me:
“What do you think of [another female classmate]? Huh? Be honest!”
No matter what my response was, she would always just glare daggers at me. There were times when I wouldn’t even know the people that she was asking me about! But even that didn’t satisfy her.
It’s obvious to me now that I was in a bad relationship, but back then I was afraid to break it off with her. And I was afraid of calling her out on her behavior because I was afraid that she would turn around and break it off with me.
Why did I stay with her for as long as I did? Simple. It took me 20 years to find my first girlfriend. I was afraid that getting another girlfriend would take another 20 years.
Here’s what I know today that I wish I knew back then. If I had known this principle back when I first started dating, I would have been much more confident around women.