It’s something that can happen to any generous, accommodating soul if they’re not careful. You wind up in a relationship with someone you love dearly. Being the giving, loving person that you are, you naturally give them your all. At first, they may seem appreciative, but then over time you notice things changing, and they get used to being so well-loved. Before you know it, they also become complacent and start to take you for granted.

Everyone sometimes forgets to thank their partner for everything that they do or put them first when they really should. However, those instances should be the exception, as opposed to the rule. If you feel like you wind up being taken for granted more often than not in your relationships, it’s time to flip the script and make some changes.

Knowing Your Needs

Positive change should always start with a little self-reflection, especially when it comes to addressing long-standing relationship patterns. Ask yourself what past partners have done to make you feel taken for granted in the first place. Are they not doing enough for you, or is it that they’re not grateful enough for the things you do? Are they routinely selfish in bed or dismissive of the things that are important to you?

Before you can set a new standard that involves getting more of what you want out of your relationships, you first need to know what you need so you can become better at asking for it. It’s highly likely that your partners weren’t completely aware they were letting you down, and communication can really help in this regard.

Plan on Setting the Standard

Sometimes the best way to get what we want from others is to set a good example to follow. That said, it’s important to make sure you’re careful not to take the other person for granted. If they do something kind or considerate, always say thank you. If they take care of something in particular as a rule (e.g. meals, yardwork, or shopping), verbally express how much easier that makes your life and how much you appreciate it. They will probably follow your example and mirror that behavior back to you.

However, it’s just as important to set boundaries, preferably early on in the relationship. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean saying yes every time they want something or need a favor. Unless we’re talking about an actual emergency, it should never mean shirking important responsibilities or neglecting your own wellbeing. Not only is it OK to say no when you can’t do something (or don’t want to), but it’s the best way to ensure your new partner won’t see you as a doormat. Limits are healthy for relationships and individuals alike.

Assert Yourself

In many ways, we really do teach people how to treat us, so it’s important to make sure we’re teaching the right lessons. Make sure you’re setting healthy boundaries for yourself as well. Although it may seem like the right thing to always prioritize your partner over everything else you might have going on, this isn’t always the case.

If you’re in the habit of dropping everything for your partners every time they shoot you a text, it’s time to break that habit. Don’t cancel plans with friends or family to do something with your partner instead, especially not last minute. Your other relationships and commitments should be priorities as well. Show your partner that you’re a well-rounded person with interests that don’t revolve around your relationship.

Embrace Alone Time

If you’re like most people, you’re used to going out of your way to spend time with other people, your partner included. But when was the last time you made the same effort to spend time with yourself? “Me time” is important for everyone, whether or not they’re in a relationship, so make sure you’re including enough of it when it comes to your own schedule.

Instead of abandoning interests that don’t suit your partner, learn to love doing them alone. Use your “me days” to order the pizza you love, but they hate. Eat it while you watch the girlie movies or reality TV they’re not all that into. Enjoy a bubble bath that’s a little longer than you’d usually take. Add a glass of wine or your favorite waterproof vibrator while you’re at it. In other words, have a complete blast. You’re worth it.

Teaching others to treat you like a priority starts by treating yourself like one. Usually that combined with communication is all it takes to ensure your partner sees you as the amazing queen that you are. If not, then it’s time to consider the possibility that they’re the problem. At the end of the day, life’s too short to spend it unhappy or with the wrong people.