Do People Let You Down Every Time?

by Andrea Blundell
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Feel like every time you try to trust someone, they disappoint you? Why are people always so unreliable, and what can you do about it?

Why did they let you down?

We all let other people down at some point, whether we mean to or not. Our human nature sees us misunderstand what the other wants, get distracted, or overpromise on what we can actually offer.

And yes, some people are not in the habit of being a good person. But if people constantly let you down, and you can never trust anyone?

Then it's less likely that everyone is a 'narcissist', and more likely the person looking at you in the mirror might have a part in it....

The choices we make

It is extremely helpful to be really honest about how at least part of the problem might be related to our own choices and ways of relating.

The hard truth remains that we are the one who, at the very least, chose to pass our time with the people who let us down.

Why do I choose people who let me down?

There will be good reasons we don't trust others, or choose the wrong people to invest in.

Often it is because we didn't receive good parenting as a child, or, worse, experienced neglect, trauma or abuse.

For example, a research study found that women who were sexually abused as a child were more likely to choose aggressive partners and report relationship dissatisfaction.

But as adults, it's up to us to commit to healing our past, and to changing the ways we do things that aren't serving us but are rather diminishing us.

What am I doing to always end up let down?

The perfect recipe for always feeling let down by others is:

  1. Having unrealistic expectations.
  2. Choosing to spend your time with others who will obviously fail at those expectations.
  3. Then testing them and making them feel judged and watched.
  4. Changing the goal posts so others don’t even know what it is you want.
  5. Making other people responsible for your happiness.
  6. Not being clear on who you are and what you want and need.
  7. Always letting yourself down.

1. Unrealistic expectations.

Have a list of things those around you must live up to? From small things like always being on time or always being available when you are upset, to unconscious expectations like always agreeing with you, or making you happy?

The more the expectations, the more we set others up to fail. And the more we blind ourselves to what unexpected gifts people might have to offer. We no longer see them, we see what we want from them.
  • If you make lists of what you expect from each person in your life, how long are those lists?
  • If you could only have two expectations of each person, what would they be?
  • And how might you see that person differently if you had no expectations at all?
  • Are there things you expect from all people? And be truthful, do you offer that to yourself? If you demand total honesty, how honest are you with yourself?

2. Choosing to spend time with others who will let us down.

Core beliefs are the deep-rooted ideas we developed as a child from the experiences we lived through. We can then live our adult lives unconsciously trying to maintain these beliefs and prove them true.

So if your belief is, 'you can't trust anyone', you will unconsciously choose to surround yourself with people who will prove this true. Say, people who could never live up to the expectations you've set.

Actually choosing to be with someone trustworthy would be out of your comfort zone. Scary. You'd avoid it.

3. Testing others.

Often, even if it’s unconscious, we then proceed to ‘test’ other to see if they live up to our expectations.

We say inflammatory things to see if they’ll support us or ignore us. Joke they must find someone else attractive to see if they will be as loyal as we expect.

But it’s manipulative, and sets the other person up to fail.

4. Changing the goal posts.

They are late once, and we then demand they are always five minutes early. Or say that they have one more chance, if they are ever late again ‘that’s it’.

It might sound funny, but these kinds of games and changing of goal posts often play out in relationships.

Often people then let us down as they are unconsciously rebelling against being controlled. And rightfully so.

5. Relying on others for our happiness.

‘But you made me feel bad’. Take notice of how often you say the phrase ‘You made me feel…'. Nobody can make you feel anything. Your reactions and feelings are up to you.

If your happiness isn’t self-sourced, it’s never going to be reliable.

6. Not being clear on who you are and what you want.

Do you tend to change your mind often? Or even change who you are depending on who you you are with?

There can be an interesting correlation between feeling let down by others and having identity issues.

If you aren't sure who you are or what you want, how can those around you know? If you are giving mixed signals, how can they know what you expect?

7. Always letting yourself down.

Here’s the funny thing about the mindset that everyone lets you down.

In therapy, you might discover that the real person you are angry at for letting you down is… you. This might look like missed life goals, habits you are ashamed of, lack of self-care, and constantly saying yes when you want to say no.

If we are constantly making micro choices to let ourselves down, we give out the signal to those around us that that is acceptable. That we don’t deserve more. If, on the other hand, we honour and respect on ourselves? We raise the bar, and those around us tend to follow suit.

Time to stop letting yourself down and start raising yourself up? Find your perfect therapist now and start talking your way into new levels of trust.

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