Are you a good Christian who loves the feeling of helping others? Are you a natural born problem-solver? Are you especially empathetic or did you carry a lot of responsibility at an early age?
Maybe you had a lot of family drama, and because of that, you became and expert at dealing with problems and chaos (maybe it even feels natural to you). You are strong and resilient.
These are all GREAT characteristics. However, applied to dating, spell DISASTER.
Has your ability to do the heavy-lifting drifted into your dating life?
Do you feel weighed down by all the giving you do in a relationship? You were probably even taught, as a Christian, that giving is better than receiving. In the beginning of the relationship, you even felt good knowing you could help and impact your partner’s life. Then, slowly, you start feeling drained.
It starts to feel like a win-lose situation. They win because they’re getting all this nice help. You make their life easier. You’re a soft shoulder to lean on or cry on. Yet where is your shoulder, and how much of the relationship is built around supporting them? Who is supporting you? An aspect givers commonly overlook. Ok for volunteering, NOT OK for dating.
I see givers fall into this trap all the time— in the past, myself included.
Now we all have natural abilities and talents. Like one person might have organizational abilities so they naturally take charge in that area. There’s a difference between “I lead in this particular area because I’m good at it” versus “I’m the emotional parent to my partner” or “the relationship revolves around the other person and their problems.”
After experiencing this type of relationship, I had to ask myself “Is this really what I want”? Where I feel like I’m always “on-duty” and working to lift the other person up? Where I’m focused on the potential of who they could be versus the reality of who they are?
I came to the conclusion that no, this is indeed not what I want.
If I defined what I do want, it would be someone who takes responsibility for himself and his emotional health. In fact, I want someone who is ALREADY emotionally healthy. Not someone I need to “rehabilitate.”
I want an equal. A relationship with balanced give-and-take. Not that they have to give back in exactly the same way I give, but I want to feel like we are both contributing to the relationship. A win-win situation for BOTH of us.
Many would say, “right, so change the type of guy you are going after.” Which is true and makes sense. However, what I find even more powerful, is to change my own outlook and the way I show up…
The problem with being a “helper” is that you often view people as being very much “in need of help.” You might even view others as incapable.
Yet, how true is this really? We are each gifted with skills, talents and abilities. We all have the capability for greatness. It might just be that some have more practice than others. What if, instead of thinking the best thing we can do is help the other person, we give them a greater gift? Like Letting them sit with their own problems and treating them as capable of dealing with them.
Maybe they truly won’t know how to deal with it at first, but just like weight lifting, the more you exercise the muscle, the stronger it grows.
Not saying you can’t show support during the process but what’s the difference between supporting them and always jumping in to solve their problems?
“Over-helping” also hurts you, because if you continue to be the“helper” in your romantic life, you’ll continue to draw your “needy” counterpart. It’s the yin to the yang. The cream to the strawberries. The chocolate to the chocolate (oh wait, chocolate needs no compliment—you just need more!). Anyways, you get it, one compliments the other.
The good news is, it only takes one person to show up differently to break the cycle!
So, what is it that you want out of your dating life or relationships? If you could build it, what would your ideal look like?