Does your other half have 99 problems, but working out how to fix their problems isn’t one of them?
If you answered yes, is the reason for this because you do it for them? Girlfriend, you need to get some better boundaries going on.
People do things for their partners out of love. We want them to feel looked after, cherished, nurtured, safe and loved. In a healthy relationship, each partner will do things for the other, usually as a favour or as a gesture of love. There’s give and take. They’re running late and can’t pick up their dry-cleaning? No worries, you’ve got that. You’re sick and don’t feel up to cooking? Your other half might bring something in on the way home. It ebbs and flows, depending on what is going on in your lives That stuff is normal.
But what if you feel like you’re the one doing everything. Like absolutely every last thing? There’s an imbalance here, and it’s probably because you don’t have good boundaries, and your good nature is being taken advantage of.
I know someone who, for years, put up with doing absolutely everything in her marriage. She paid the bills, kept the household running, managed the children, while her husband sat around moping like a big old man child.
He literally did nothing other than go to work or drink when he got home. And when he lost his job, he sat around moping like a big old man child… and wouldn’t even look for jobs. His wife would get home from work and start looking around for jobs for him. He wouldn’t even write the job applications… she did that for him as well. After 18 months of this shit, he finally got a job. Guess what? They are divorced now. Who didn’t see that coming?
You don’t need a marriage counsellor to tell you that it’s a potential relationship killer if one partner is significantly not pulling their weight.
When you sacrifice too much for someone else – emotional energy, finances, whatever – and you’re getting nothing in return, there’s every chance they see you as needy, especially if you don’t assert yourself and let them know that they need to get their shit together.
Being the whole world to your partner shows at best there are major codependence issues going on, and at worst, they’re just using you up. By taking care of all their problems, you are showing the other person that there are no repercussions for their actions, and they aren’t responsible for their issues in life.
When your partner takes you for granted, you can start to feel more like their parent than their romantic partner. When you’ve got one more person to sort out, it can feel exactly the same as having another kid.
Just like when you are a helicopter parent to a child, if you do absolutely everything for your partner because you want them to feel success, you are preventing them from learning how to do things, how to learn from mistakes, and stopping them from being a healthy and mature adult.
It can be a hard habit to break. Maybe you’re just naturally a fixer or a nurturer. Maybe you do it out of obligation because you don’t know how to say no. Maybe you just really hate conflict so you suck it up. Maybe a little of both.
Maybe you were okay with doing it at first, but now, after months, or years, or decades, you’ve reached the end of your rope… you have your own life, your own problems, and nobody else fixes those for you, right? Are you ready to say enough is enough?
If someone drops a problem on you, guess what? You don’t have to fix it for them. You can be a loyal and supportive partner without being the one to do all the heavy lifting to fix your partner’s problems.
You can still be a loyal partner without being the one to do all the fixing. Don’t be afraid to hand their problem back to them. Push back. When they have a whinge and dump their latest problem in life on you, ask them what they think they are going to do. You don’t need to give them the solutions. You don’t need to take it on board and add it to your own emotional load.
Yes you can listen, and you can have empathy. Freeing yourself from stressing over someone else’s problems and handing them back to them can be liberating, as you will have more time, energy and emotional resources to focus on your own needs.
And if they aren’t willing to change things up and take responsibility for their own lives? Then that should be a huge wake up call.