Have you ever felt that your the guy/girl everyone dates before they meet the ‘one’? Are you the girl that finds a guy who is at a tough spot in his life, invests your time and energy helping him get his life on track and as soon as he does you find him moving on to bigger and better things and leaving you in his tracks? Today, dear Rinsers, I’ll be talking about stepping stones – the people used by others to build them up and help them reach their goals – merely to be discarded once they’ve served their purpose. I’ll also be questioning how justified our perception of being a stepping stone really is or whether it is just part of a person’s broader victim mentality.
Most of us don’t marry the first person we date and that’s a good thing. It’s important to experience a few different (good and bad) relationships to figure out what it is we actually need in a partner. And as easy as it is to say you wish you’d never laid eyes on an ex in the aftermath of break-up, I find that in many cases we can look back and draw something positive from the experience. Perhaps it was an ex that encouraged you to pursue your dreams or gave you a reason to take your first international flight. Or maybe it was something simple like them being there too look after you when you were sick. Some relationships help us develop our character in a positive way by pushing us to get out of comfort zone, become more confident or just help us think about someone other than ourselves. Given a bit of time and space, I think most of us can look back at an old relationship and see that both parties took something valuable away from it.
Of course, if you do an ‘innocent’ Facebook stalk (we are all guilty of it!) and find that your past five ‘problem’ ex boyfriends married the next chick that came along, it’s natural to feel a bit hard done by. After all you spent all those long nights giving pep talks, massaging egos and driving their lazy asses to job interviews only to have the ‘new improved’ version of the dude snapped up by some other chick. It is a bit irritating if nothing else.
But enough of the self-pity! Let’s try to solve this problem. Firstly, if it really is the case that you date ‘problem’ people just to ‘fix’ them and hand them over to the next girl that comes along, then maybe it you need to be a bit self-reflective. There are some of us out there that like solving problems to the extent that we seek out such projects. Maybe this is your pattern and you need to make a change instead of feeling like a stepping stone once the problem is out of your life. Secondly, sure you feel you wasted a lot of time helping your partner but ask yourself whether the arrangement was truly one-sided or did you also benefit from being with them. Chances are it worked both ways (come on, even if all you got was sex!!)…so you really weren’t that much of stepping stone after all.
At the end of the day, I think it is all about intentions. If the other party got involved with you knowing full well that they had no intention of pursuing a future with you but only saw value in what you could help them achieve then its fair to say they led you on and used you as a stepping stone to get somewhere (or to someone) better. But if you both entered into the partnership with hopes that something good would come of it and in the end of the day that didn’t materialise, it’s a little unfair and immature to keep tabs of who did more to help the other in a relationship. Of course, there are some horrible social climber type people in the world that are motivated solely by self-interest but I still have a little faith in human nature.
Yes, it’s natural to feel a bit used and abused when a problem child whose been fixed up moves on without you but try not to beat yourself up about it and thinking of how you could have done things better. Investing time, effort and little bit of love into a relationship isn’t a crime and not something you should regret, holding back on the other hand and constantly worrying about the worst case scenario of you potentially being used as nothing more than a stepping stone, well that attitude isn’t really going to help you find happily every after now is it?
OK Rinsers. Have you ever felt like you are nothing but a stepping stone? Do you have regrets about putting your all into a relationship only to have it thrown back in your face further down the line? Or do you think its just a matter of perspective? Are people who consider themselves stepping stones just wallowing in self pity? And should this whole potentially becoming a stepping stone thing even feature when one considers how much effort they put into a relationship? Talk in the comments below.