Your time and attention should be earned.
Even the strongest people can struggle with setting (and maintaining) boundaries — so, if this is you, fret not.
I believe that we crave connection, acceptance, friendship, love, intimacy…and sometimes we let that craving make us forget what we deserve.
Not only that — but that the people we’re experiencing these things with should be earningtheir place in our lives, not just having it handed to them without showing you the same respect in return.
So — what are some green flags that a person deserves the space you’re giving them?
1: They put in effort for you.
You’re a good friend. You’re a good partner. You’re a good family member. You put in effort to reach out, check in, follow up, stay in touch, extend invitations…
Now, for a tough question:
If you stopped doing all of these things, which people in your life would be the ones to stay in touch with you?
Which ones would reciprocate your efforts?
And — which ones would completely disappear if you stopped initiating contact?
You probably already know the answer to this question, but perhaps you’ve been unwilling to ask it. That’s usually a signal that you need to start being more honest with yourself and make some changes that honor your boundaries.
I understand that you’re the planner, the go-to, the organizer, the host — but that doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be taken advantage of by people who only receive and never give in return.
2: They don’t pass judgment.
It’s one thing to have people in your life who listen to you — it’s a whole other thing to have people who listen to you and don’t pass judgment.
No — your friends, lover, and family members don’t all have to agree with you all the time. Hell, they don’t even have to like all of your decisions — but problems begin to arise when they start judging choices you make, or ways that you live your life.
This means accepting and embracing you for who you really are — which we will dive further into, shortly.
3: They value and consider your opinions.
This is an important point in all areas of life, whether personal or professional.
Can you think of a scenario where you’d want to be around someone who dismissed or undermined your opinion? Someone who didn’t consider your viewpoint when making important decisions that affected you?
Someone who actually values and cares about you subsequently values and cares about your thoughts. You cannot have one without the other, and when this valuable piece is missing, that person doesn’t deserve your time or attention.
4: Their presence brings you peace.
I believe this to be a tragically overlooked consideration.
Think about who in your life makes you feel at ease when you’re around them, and who makes you feel on edge.
Who do you feel stressed around, and who do you feel calm around?
Who do you (feel like) you “have to” impress, and who simply likes and loves you for who you are?
I believe that if we took the time to really take inventory of the people we spend time around and begin creating distance from those whose energy clashes with ours, we’d begin to build a more peaceful and fulfilling life that minimizes anxiety and tension.
(Yes, I know this is very difficult if it’s a family member, but it doesn’t make the point any less true).
5: They support your goals and ambitions.
Someone who deserves your time is someone who wants to see you happy, fulfilled, and thriving in life.
That means they should be supporting yourjourney to happiness and fulfillment.
Do they need to understand it? No.
Do they need to embark on it with you? No.
Do they need to share the same goals or ambitions? No.
But, they do need to stand behind you and be your cheerleader along the way.
Imagine being friends or lovers with someone who is always discouraging you or trying to talk you out of doing the things you love.
“That will never work.”
“The market is too saturated.”
“You don’t have the experience for that.”
Some will chime in and say: Oh, they’re just trying to save you from disappointment.
While in some cases that might be true, someone who respects you should know that you’re a grown adult who can make your own decisions and assess your own risks. Their job is to be supportive and encouraging as you do so.
6: They spend REAL TIME with you.
This is a BIG ONE, especially in dating.
I understand that people are busy.I know that life gets crazy. I am just as guilty as anyone of getting caught up in obligations and needing to be reeled back in, at times.
However, I also believe that people make timefor the people and things that are really important to us.
We prioritize, we move things around, we create “pockets of peace” as my mother says.
And if you’re going to give your emotional investment to someone — particularly intimately, you need to know that they’re willing to invest real time in getting to know you. Spending real quality time with you. Not just texting, or facetiming, or chatting on the phone. Those things are nice as supplements, but they never replace in-person interaction, intimacy, or relationship building.
The amount of time someone spends with you is a direct reflection of their interest in you.
7: They respect your boundaries.
We started this article out talking about boundaries. What are they, exactly?
Emotional boundaries are essentially the parameters you set for the treatment you are (or aren’t) willing to accept from people. Whether it be in a relationship, a friendship, in your family, or in the workplace.
Regardless of the setting, boundaries are a sign of self worth because they show people that you have limits.
Saying “I won’t accept this behavior” is the same as saying “I deserve better than this,” which is a statement you can only make if you actually know what you deserve.
Here’s the rub, though — people who really deserve your energy won’t be violating these boundaries in the first place.
They’ll treat you with respect, admiration, fairness, and love. They’ll be kind and considerate. They’ll listen when you speak and if they cross a line, they’ll swiftly take responsibility, apologize, and make it right with their new actions.
People who cross the line and disrespect your boundaries — especially when they know where said boundaries are — are not worthy of your time or attention.
8: They are positive and uplifting.
Believe me, I understand that not everything can be sunshine and rainbows all the time.
Nobody is always in a good mood.
Nobody is always positive.
Nobody is always optimistic.
I know this because I am one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met — and I have shitty days, too.
This is just the nature of life.
You already know the people who popped into your mind when you read this point.
You already know the people who are generally upbeat, encouraging, positive, and happy.
You also know the ones who are always complaining, surrounded by drama at all times, and seem to be followed around by a cloud of negative energy.
And — you know the way you feel when you’re around both types.
Sometimes, they are unlucky and this is through no fault of their own.
Sometimes, though, they refuse to make necessary changes, always focus on the negative, and look for problems rather than solutions.
You have the power to choose who you surround yourself with, and you know damn well that their energy and mood is going to influence yours. Which are you going to choose?
9: They are there when you need them.
I hear it all the time from clients: Oh, they changed when times got tough.
No, they didn’t change. They simply revealed their true nature to you.
They showed you they were a “fairweather fan,” only there when you were winning.
People who truly deserve to be in your life don’t just show up when things are going well for you.
They’re the ones who are there when you call at 3AM because your car broke down.
The ones who drive 2 hours to your cousin’s funeral because you don’t want to go alone.
The ones who you can call at anytime and know they’re there to listen.
The people who ride along with you whether it’s in a limousine or on the bus.
Those are the ones who deserve your love.
10: You can be your fullest and most authentic self around them.
This is the kicker.
The most important point of them all.
The behemoth in the room.
Someone who deserves a place in your life must fully embrace and respect you for who you really are.
In turn, you will feel completely comfortable and confident being you around them.
Being vulnerable, open, honest, authentic, and genuine in their presence.
Feeling that sense of peace. A calm (mutual) unspoken acceptance.
Anyone who makes you feel like you need to change in order to be their friend or lover…
Anyone who makes you feel guilty about your personal opinions or who you are…
Anyone who makes you question your identity…
Who makes you feel guilty about your values or beliefs…
Does not deserve to be in your life.
The quality of the life you create is highly influenced by the types of people you choose to be around.
You have the power to choose who you want to be, and who you want to spend your time around.