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The Divorced 50+ Doormat: 3 Ugly Truths That Probably Apply to You

By Martha Bodyfelt January 21, 2022 Family

It happens all the damn time and you’re probably not even aware of it. Or you are aware of it, but you’ve just accepted it as a way of life.

Your boss just ‘assumes’ you’re going to work late… even though you already made plans.

Your ex texts you, saying how sad he is, although you asked him to quit contacting you.

Your adult daughter hangs up on you when she gets a call from a friend.

At this point in your life, when you’re working to move on after your divorce, you may have just accepted the fact that people are going to walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Doormat? I Don’t Think So!

If you’re tired of being treated like a doormat, keep on reading. I’m going to show you how to easily stand up for yourself and show people how to treat you with the respect you deserve.

But first, we’ve got to talk about some ugly truths. They’re hard to read, but you need to know them.

Ugly Truth #1: We Were Conditioned to Be ‘Nice’ and to Not Make a Scene

During childhood, adolescence, and adulthood you were often told to play nice, to be ‘well-behaved,’ and to not make a big deal out of something. Society was conditioning you to be okay with not having your voice heard.

Little by little, you were taught to accept the fact that people could walk all over you and take advantage of you. You were being conditioned to think it was socially unacceptable or ‘bad’ to voice your opinion that something was wrong, or that you didn’t like something.

Now, looking back, many of us realize that being ‘nice’ and being ‘the good girl’ meant that we had our voice taken from us.

It’s infuriating, isn’t it?

Ugly Truth #2: We Were Not Raised to Establish Strong Boundaries

One consequence of being raised to be ‘nice’ and not make a scene is that plenty of people – whether it was your ex, your family, your kids, your friends, your coworkers – probably asked too much of you, intruded in personal business, or took advantage of you.

And since you were never given the tools to say, “No,” or “I’m not comfortable with that decision,” you never understood how to establish strong boundaries for yourself. It was like the concept never even existed.

Healthy boundaries are critical for establishing your confidence… but many of us were never taught that we had a right to boundaries and to say “no.”

Ugly Truth #3: Society Taught Us That Our Needs Didn’t Matter

Many of us over the age of 50 have felt this insidious pressure to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Even as early as elementary school, I remember teachers saying, “Well, you’re certainly a headstrong little girl, aren’t you? None of the boys will like you if you’re so stubborn and loud.”

This probably happened to you as well – whenever you proclaimed that something wasn’t fair or got angry that you didn’t get what you wanted.

But that constant failure to acknowledge the things you wanted, even when you were little, conditioned you to think that what you wanted – even what you needed – was never a priority.

This is why so many of us have a hard time advocating for ourselves. Then we go and blame ourselves for not knowing how to do it.

It usually takes some life-shattering event, like a divorce, to wake us up.

So, think of that divorce as a blessing in disguise, because now you’re presented with an opportunity to find your voice and reverse course on the disrespect.

I want you to take everything you’ve been taught about “not making a scene” and “being nice so that people don’t think you’re a witch…” and throw it in the trash. Because your newest challenge is here.

Take the “Not a Doormat” Challenge

The next time you sense that someone is about to walk all over you, do the following:

  • Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable with doing this? Is this something that inconveniences me?
  • Ask yourself: What’s in it for me?
  • If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it.
  • Remind yourself that your needs matter, too.
  • Communicate your boundaries.
  • Communicate your expectations moving forward.

As a heads-up, the people who treat you like a doormat may push back a little when you stand up for yourself. They may call you selfish, whine, or ask, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?”

When you get such a reaction, remember that it has nothing to do with you. This negativity simply manifests the fact that they cannot handle your new strength.

People who are worthy of your time and attention will adjust to your new voice. And if they cannot or will not, you don’t need them in your life. It’s as simple as that.

As you navigate the next chapter in your life, always remember: You deserve better. You deserve to have your voice heard. You deserve to have your needs communicated. Your voice matters. You matter. Don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.

What steps will you take to find your voice and communicate that you will no longer be treated like a doormat? Please share your stories and any tips that have worked for you.

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The Author

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach who helps professional divorced women over 50 overcome their divorce loneliness and break free from the patterns keeping them stuck so they can feel fulfilled, have more fun, and live fearlessly. To find out what's *really* keeping you stuck after divorce, take the 30-second quiz.

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