A few months ago I was having dinner with a group of women when one of the ladies remarked, “My ex-husband’s new girlfriend is a demanding bitch and he’s jumping through hoops for her.”

I joined in with the group’s resounding “halleluja … amen sister!,” but when the evening ended and after I returned home, I began to ruminate about what my friend said and what her words actually meant.

I dissected the language.

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The phrase “demanding bitch” has become a negative connotation to describe a woman that exudes confidence, is assertive, and will not settle for less than what she believes she deserves. Whoa … wait a minute … confident, assertive and demanding self-respect?

Let’s continue.

“He’s jumping through hoops for her.” Translation … he’s showing her the respect she believes she deserves.

I reflected on those words and recalled all the times they swirled around in my head regarding my ex-husband. I usually follow with, “Why didn’t he treat me the way he treats her?”

My mother always told me that we teach people how to treat us. So I wondered … what do I teach others?

For most of my life I have lived with the belief that if I take care of everyone, do whatever people ask/want, devote my complete attention to others, and stifle my needs, everyone will like/love me and all will be well. After all, there would be no way they couldn’t see my value.

The problem with my logic was that I didn’t see my value. My lack of self-esteem caused me to feel that I had to win/earn affection. By putting everyone ahead of myself and expecting nothing in return, I actually taught others to treat me as “less than”. Where I thought I would be treasured as gold, I was disrespected, taken advantage of, and eventually unloved. The worst part? I allowed it to happen.

Perhaps it’s human nature for people to take advantage of easy situations, relationships that don’t require any work. Perhaps it’s easy to be devalued when you don’t speak up and state your needs. Perhaps those woman described as “demanding bitches” learned the hard way that the most important thing one can have is self-respect and self-love.

I’m not sure why people do what they do or why they don’t always appreciate the treasure they have been given, but one thing I know is that if I don’t love and respect myself, I should not expect others to! And it is truly in my power to teach others how to treat me.

So, if being a “demanding bitch” means that I am assertive, confident, and love and respect myself, then sign me up. I could use a little hoop jumping!