Some people will ask (aka demand) that you jump through certain hoops to prove that you are sincere, loyal, or committed to them. These requests come from very insecure or threatened people, and are done so to control and manipulate you. The problem is that early on in the relationship the requests are never overt enough to be a seen as demanding or controlling.

When you don’t jump through these hoops (perhaps causing some kind of ego hurt to the other), you’ll likely be shamed, sometimes with some spiritual/emotional abuse thrown in there such as “A follower of Jesus would be moved to apologize…”

Don’t make the mistake of automatically believing that the other person wants what’s best for you, or actually knows you enough to understand why you’re acting or reacting the way you are.

If you cause damage to their ego, other shaming statements might be made about you to try and get you to fall back into line and into submission. A statement like: “Any decent human being would have an empathic response to the feelings that someone was hurt.”

What this statement does is that it causes confusion and self-doubt, because there is truth in it! A decent human should have empathy to someone being hurt … unless that hurt is being weaponized. Then it is wise to hold empathy at bay so as to not be in danger of the attack.

Above all, the one with an insecure and fragile ego is going to attach themself to someone willing to give themselves away to those in need. In our youth, this is beautiful and redemptive and is a great picture of filling in each others gaps. But if the gaps in the relationship are only filled because you’re jumping through hoops … then perhaps it’s not a relationship worth all that much.

I think this is why the book, “The Giving Tree”, is so profound. It can be read two ways: Either an amazing picture of sacrificial love; or a picture of codependency and taking advantage of someone.

Or maybe it’s both. 

At the end of the day, don’t give your self to people who won’t care unless you do everything their way (hoops). Learn to say no and learn how to suffer the awkward social (or family) gatherings that happen afterwards. It will get easier with time.