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Noticing Patterns in Relationships

Old 06-14-2011, 09:21 AM
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Noticing Patterns in Relationships

Hi SR friends,
I've been noticing patterns with people in my life that I am a bit stumped by. Certain people - colleagues, my RAH, sister, along with people I no longer associate with - in my life confuse me. I am now beginning to realize why and I am not sure how to handle it. The commonality these people have is their actions don't match their words.

I know we say here "actions speak louder than words" and I believe that. But I am not sure how to handle it except to avoid those people. For example, a woman I work with is constantly reminding me that she is not included in my projects in the role she was hired for. And she's right...because she isn't (and hasn't been) doing her job and I have given up on her. But she keeps reminding me of this, that she isn't included. The words...but never the action. My RAH says he prays everyday for guidance from his HP on what to do with his family he created, yet he does nothing. He says he wants to "work" on the relationship but does nothing. My sister says she wants to have a relationship with me but then either shuts me down or talks about me behind my back...I hear the words but the actions speak something different.

Looking at the patterns here...I have to stand back and consider my contribution to it all. Could I be misinterpreting the actions? What I don't see is the initiative to back up the words I hear...so I tend to blow off the words and pay attention to the (non)action. In each case I presented above, I have tried in a variety of ways to involve these people somehow, giving opportunity after opportunity for engagement, yet I get very little in return. Then I back off, focus on something else, and they come back at me with their complaints of not being involved. It's a dance...I see it clearly.

What I don't know is how to change the pattern, short of simply walking away. My first thought in all of these instances is these people don't know what they want or how to accomplish it, so leave them to their own devices and let them figure it out.

I find this behavior wishy-washy. I don't like it. But I also realize I have some of my own character defects that may lead me to be impatient and intolerant of others who aren't as decisive as I am.

How do you handle situations where someone is saying one thing and blatantly doing the opposite, over and over again?

P.S. In my examples, where I am at today is: I am hiring someone else at work to do what I thought this person was hired to do. I haven't spoken to my sister in a good 3 months. I have backed so far off of my RAH that we are barely talking anymore. With people in my past who did this kind of stuff, I no longer associate with them. So my pattern of dealing with it is to leave them alone - sometimes forever. But I am wondering if there is a better way.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:32 AM
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I think we all think we're one way and sometimes act another, it's just a matter of degree. In the end it comes down to being human ... and flawed. Letting go of expectations is a good way of dealing with the disappointment.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
Hi SR friends,
I've been noticing patterns with people in my life that I am a bit stumped by. Certain people - colleagues, my RAH, sister, along with people I no longer associate with - in my life confuse me. I am now beginning to realize why and I am not sure how to handle it. The commonality these people have is their actions don't match their words.

I know we say here "actions speak louder than words" and I believe that. But I am not sure how to handle it except to avoid those people. For example, a woman I work with is constantly reminding me that she is not included in my projects in the role she was hired for. And she's right...because she isn't (and hasn't been) doing her job and I have given up on her. But she keeps reminding me of this, that she isn't included. The words...but never the action. My RAH says he prays everyday for guidance from his HP on what to do with his family he created, yet he does nothing. He says he wants to "work" on the relationship but does nothing. My sister says she wants to have a relationship with me but then either shuts me down or talks about me behind my back...I hear the words but the actions speak something different.

Looking at the patterns here...I have to stand back and consider my contribution to it all. Could I be misinterpreting the actions? What I don't see is the initiative to back up the words I hear...so I tend to blow off the words and pay attention to the (non)action. In each case I presented above, I have tried in a variety of ways to involve these people somehow, giving opportunity after opportunity for engagement, yet I get very little in return. Then I back off, focus on something else, and they come back at me with their complaints of not being involved. It's a dance...I see it clearly.

What I don't know is how to change the pattern, short of simply walking away. My first thought in all of these instances is these people don't know what they want or how to accomplish it, so leave them to their own devices and let them figure it out.

I find this behavior wishy-washy. I don't like it. But I also realize I have some of my own character defects that may lead me to be impatient and intolerant of others who aren't as decisive as I am.

How do you handle situations where someone is saying one thing and blatantly doing the opposite, over and over again?

P.S. In my examples, where I am at today is: I am hiring someone else at work to do what I thought this person was hired to do. I haven't spoken to my sister in a good 3 months. I have backed so far off of my RAH that we are barely talking anymore. With people in my past who did this kind of stuff, I no longer associate with them. So my pattern of dealing with it is to leave them alone - sometimes forever. But I am wondering if there is a better way.
Have you read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie. It's been a liberating experience for me.

When we feel out of touch and scratching our heads at how everyone else is behaving, I think that's the best time for us to focus on how we're behaving. I'm even more convinced of it now.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:46 AM
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I think another part of the issue is that we are all involved in recovery. At least for me that means being very mindful of my thoughts, words and actions. I am making a conscious effort to improve and be healthy. And through SR I have made a conscious effort to associate with like minded people. It is very important for my recovery.

However most people are not on the save wavelength with me anymore. Its not just As that are good at quacking and denial. They really don't see the disconnect between their words and their actions.

Recovery isn't just a path or a process that we use, it becomes a way of life. I will never willingly give up this clarity again. It seems to me to be a parallel with the Buddhist idea of enlightenment and living a mindful life.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:49 AM
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I think the best thing to do is what you are doing. Detaching from the quacking is the only way to stay sane. This woman at work is not performing up to par, so she needs to be replaced. If your sister is not physically putting any effort into your relationship, then it's okay to back off and not try to shove anything down her throat. If your H is content just 'wanting things to change' as opposed to taking part in the process, well that just sounds like procrastination. I mean, he can't come out and say "i don't want to work on this relationship" because you'd leave i'm guessing, so as long as he tells you he wants to, he's safe for now? People who tell me they are working on personal issues, and don't show any signs of action, are usually just saying it to pacify me. Just my experience with my ex, and a few others.

Them: i'm working on keeping my station clean during service.
Me: there's **** all over your table, you're cutting board has meat juices all over it, and there's chopped parsley garnish everywhere.
Them: well i want to work on keeping my station clean during service.
Me: If you wanted to work on it, there wouldn't be parsley everywhere, you would wipe off your cutting board after you sliced and plated that steak, fold up your service towels, and be ready for the next order. Instead of telling me you want to do something, just do it.

I think it's common for people to talk a big talk, and not walk the walk. I see it all the time. I used to go to an offleash dog park in NC, and i'd hear people saying "so and so's dog is digging all these holes and the owner isn't filling them, someone should say something", or "that guy's dog is being aggressive, and he isn't leaving, that's just not right, someone should say something'. Guess who was the only one to say something? Damn straight. Me.

People are content to complain about something, but won't take the initiative to contribute to the solution. Sometimes it's just more fun to complain. They get satisfaction out of it. Acknowledging there is a problem, and waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Like acknowledgment was such a tough job, thank goodness you pointed it out to me, your work is done here, I'll take care of the rest.

Maybe I'm just babbling here, i don't know if that makes any sense.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
I find this behavior wishy-washy. I don't like it. But I also realize I have some of my own character defects that may lead me to be impatient and intolerant of others who aren't as decisive as I am.

How do you handle situations where someone is saying one thing and blatantly doing the opposite, over and over again?
Honestly, I have no interaction with people like that unless I have to (for example, a co-worker). My sponsor has often said we live in a dysfunctional world, and as the years go by I see that more and more.

You can't change the dynamics on the part of the other person, dear.

Perhaps your growth in recovery is starting to help you develop new boundaries?
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:13 AM
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I've found that I've been trying to change the world with a lot of pushing and shoving, and really all I can do is change me. I noticed when someone is making a comment to me about a problem, it's not necessarily my kind suggestions that are needed. I know I'm pretty smart. I don't need to prove it to someone else.

The phrase: "I hope that works out for you" is becoming more and more in practice!
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:38 AM
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This is happening to me, too. I am noticing that I just don't see the world the way that most people do. It baffles me. Especially longtime friends who say "I really want to see you soon" and then months go by without so much as a phone call. And it's not one of those relationships where you pick right up where you left off and know that you both have been busy - it is more that things feel strained, no one will address any underlying disagreement, and she doesn't call.

Or when I asked another friend: "I haven't heard from you in a long time and I notice that you always decline my invitations. Have I done something to offend you that I need to apologize for?"

her: "I will call you this afternoon." no call.
me: "I look forward to hearing from you."
her: "I need a break from all this conflict."
?????

it is happening in all of my relationships and I hate it. It's like I have been living in a haze as to how people really act vs. what they say. Not just my XAH and his crazy family, but so many former friends.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:44 AM
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Stella, maybe they are uncomfortable being around you because you have changed and grown. You've taken control of your own life and they feel the difference. You have matured and they have stayed the same and they feel somewhat smaller in your presence. Maybe its time to find some new friends who fit better with the new you.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
Stella, maybe they are uncomfortable being around you because you have changed and grown. You've taken control of your own life and they feel the difference. You have matured and they have stayed the same and they feel somewhat smaller in your presence. Maybe its time to find some new friends who fit better with the new you.
I am wondering if this is a big part of what I have tried to describe in this thread. I may not have communicated it very well initially. This isn't ME worrying about OTHERS' behaviors...this is me wondering how to deal with behaviors that are difficult for me to understand, which makes acceptance challenging.

Being in control of one's life. Having the mindset that most things happen because of me, not to me. Being an initiator, not a reactor. I look at these people as reactors...they don't initiate much. But they don't acknowledge they don't do that - they blame me if I have a problem with their behavior. That's the crux. I am held responsible although they didn't follow through. It's baffling to me. My colleague genuinely believes she is being left out on purpose of my work and isn't allowed to do her role. Yet, she has repeatedly and habitually not followed through or done some half-assed attempt and left me hanging. My sister genuinely believes I am cruel to her, because I don't agree with her delusions and life choices. My RAH genuinely believes I left him unexpectedly and without merit, with no acknowledgement of his role or the fact that I warned him all along that if something didn't change, I was leaving. I even spelled out the issues I was having, on paper, with bullet points.

These people don't DO anything. They allow life to happen to them, react to it, complain about it, blame others for it, and never do anything themselves to change the trajectory.

I am not sure I can have relationships with these kinds of people. Today that makes me kinda sad.

P.S. my RAH doesn't really count...he's an alcoholic...this is normal and expected for someone who has lived his life. But others'? Its like Stella describes...I am beginning to wonder if I see the world differently as well...and the people who don't share my mindset are floating to the top, maybe needing to be skimmed off and set aside?!

Last edited by Tuffgirl; 06-14-2011 at 11:48 AM. Reason: added the PS
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by kittykitty View Post
I think the best thing to do is what you are doing. Detaching from the quacking is the only way to stay sane. This woman at work is not performing up to par, so she needs to be replaced. If your sister is not physically putting any effort into your relationship, then it's okay to back off and not try to shove anything down her throat. If your H is content just 'wanting things to change' as opposed to taking part in the process, well that just sounds like procrastination. I mean, he can't come out and say "i don't want to work on this relationship" because you'd leave i'm guessing, so as long as he tells you he wants to, he's safe for now? People who tell me they are working on personal issues, and don't show any signs of action, are usually just saying it to pacify me. Just my experience with my ex, and a few others.

Them: i'm working on keeping my station clean during service.
Me: there's **** all over your table, you're cutting board has meat juices all over it, and there's chopped parsley garnish everywhere.
Them: well i want to work on keeping my station clean during service.
Me: If you wanted to work on it, there wouldn't be parsley everywhere, you would wipe off your cutting board after you sliced and plated that steak, fold up your service towels, and be ready for the next order. Instead of telling me you want to do something, just do it.

I think it's common for people to talk a big talk, and not walk the walk. I see it all the time. I used to go to an offleash dog park in NC, and i'd hear people saying "so and so's dog is digging all these holes and the owner isn't filling them, someone should say something", or "that guy's dog is being aggressive, and he isn't leaving, that's just not right, someone should say something'. Guess who was the only one to say something? Damn straight. Me.

People are content to complain about something, but won't take the initiative to contribute to the solution. Sometimes it's just more fun to complain. They get satisfaction out of it. Acknowledging there is a problem, and waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Like acknowledgment was such a tough job, thank goodness you pointed it out to me, your work is done here, I'll take care of the rest.

Maybe I'm just babbling here, i don't know if that makes any sense.
Thanks Kitty - you are spot on. This is what I am experiencing lately, and it is baffling. I do remember seeing a guy wearing a t-shirt that said "Change is good. You go first" That's what it feels like here! And the only way I know how to end the dance is to stop dancing.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:15 PM
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I tend to blow off the words and pay attention to the (non)action.
Sounds like the way to go! The action (or lack of it) is the important thing.

Whoever said talk is cheap was a genius.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:22 PM
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I wonder if there's ever a time
that we aren't reminding ourselves

"Oh yeah, *I* am the one in recovery - not them."

Meaning - of COURSE I'm going to do my best
others... don't seem to have that initiative.

I've seen that as my self reliance increases
my attachment to others following through
has decreased.
It's more like watching a tv show
than actually being IN ... the thing.
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:21 PM
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well yes, Barb, but it's really not that much fun being in recovery while all my formerly supportive friends don't like me anymore. I didnt think I was all that different, but who knows...
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:42 PM
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My therapist told me, "When one person changes, the relationship changes." No truer words have been spoken, as far as I'm concerned.

Unfortunately, the change to the relationship isn't always for the better. I've experienced this as well. I've found that some of my relationships had to go south because they were in reality toxic...to me. Others have become stronger, because those people are being authentic and are on paths of growth as well. Others have just faded away, because while they were not toxic, they don't relate to me anymore.

I've noticed that a lot of people just plain don't like change. It scares them. especially if its a change that reveals their shortcomings...words not matching actions, being passive aggressive, being the continual victim, etc. And in those cases, I've decided to let it fade away.

There is a saying, can't remember it verbatim, but the gist is, some people come into our lives for just a season (or period of time); some people come into our lives for a reason (and once that reason has been fulfilled they are no longer in our lives); and some people come into our lives for forever. These are the true friends...and they ARE few in number...but they will love you in all of your stages of life, and vice versa.
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:20 PM
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I find this behavior wishy-washy. I don't like it. But I also realize I have some of my own character defects that may lead me to be impatient and intolerant of others who aren't as decisive as I am.
I agree with the actions kittykitty outlined (which is basically what you were doing, right?).

Also wanted to add that you're right -- there might be a personality difference here between them and you. (I'm with you, in case you were wondering. ) Some people put off making a decision (the decision that precedes action) until they feel they've gathered enough information. Their information-gathering and turning the information over and thinking every scenario through drives people like you and me nuts.

Because people like you and me don't function that way. We look at the information, make a decision, spring into action, thinking that if this doesn't work out, that just means that's one less thing we have to try. We want action, and we want it now.

Of my kids, one is like the people you describe. She'll take forever making decisions, and it drove me absolutely crazy until I went to some work-related training and was taught that it's actually a personality trait, not a deficiency.

Thinking of it that way makes me more patient with it. I think it's sort of like thinking of alcoholism as a disease (or "addictive disorder" which I like better) -- it changes your outlook and your attitude and makes it easier to handle. A bit.
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Old 06-14-2011, 05:36 PM
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lillamy, thanks...I was wondering if it is a personality and I am just now really noticing around me the differences in people. I know impatience is a defect in this respect, and I also know my codie side tends to give chance after chance after chance and every time I get burned I walk away feeling disappointed. In the past, I have tended to call people out on their behavior...I even had a confrontation with the colleague I've mentioned here. I have learned that is not the answer - nothing good comes out of those because this "personality" tends to be highly defensive and I just end up blamed. My colleague shouted at me that I wasn't "telling her what to do". My response, "you were hired to know what to do". She looked completely lost at that one. And I catch myself feeling bad because I know she is hurting over this...I can see it in her face and I am picking it up coming at me sideways. But she did this - it's a lot like the alcoholic blaming us for their drinking! Infuriating!

I guess it boils down to some personalities don't mesh well. And it is up to me to decide how many "chances" I want to give before I say (in my head) "enough!" and side step the person. Interestingly enough - there seems to be a lot of these personalities in my life right now. How did that happen??!!!
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Old 06-14-2011, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by barb dwyer View Post
It's more like watching a tv show
than actually being IN ... the thing.
Ohhh, this is an excellent analogy, Barb!
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Old 06-14-2011, 06:10 PM
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Tuffgirl -

Thanks for this post. I'm just getting on-line today and this is just about perfect for where I am today (thanks HP!!). I too struggle with accepting that not everyone does things my way (oh, the world would be perfect if they did, right!?!??!).

And so I work hard on having patience giving people time to do things their way... but what I am up against is... where's the line? When is enough... enough?

My AH has said the same thing... "I want to work on my drinking. I want to work on our marriage." And for the first time in a very long time... I'm sitting back and shutting up, and watching - for actions. The drinking - I see something changing... will it be sustained and real?!?! Who freakin' knows. As for our marriage... he wanted marriage counseling... he has made the appointment yet... and I'm sure as hell not going to make it!

I think if somebody wants something bad enough... they will eventually spring into action, on their schedule, not mine. So the question for me is... how long do I wait and be patient?
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Old 06-14-2011, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GettingBy View Post
I think if somebody wants something bad enough... they will eventually spring into action, on their schedule, not mine. So the question for me is... how long do I wait and be patient?
And I guess my question is how to deal with the people you have already given up on who keep trying to engage you in the dance? The people you can "side step" but not completely get away from?

I think I've reached the conclusion that Barb posted above...you just don't rely on them at all. For anything. Except more of the same old same old.

I am grateful today that I am decisive, even if it means impatience is the down side of that decisiveness.
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