Being a support system to your romantic partner is a good thing—that’s how it should be. But, you should both be support systems to each other and I fear that sometimes women act as the support to their partners who don’t do the same for them. Honestly, women are just strong bad*sses who are incredible at multi-tasking and not only taking on their own stuff but also everybody else’s. Maybe it’s centuries of child-rearing that runs through our blood. Even if you aren’t a mother, motherhood is in you. Women are the caretakers of society, and always have been.
Quite frankly, I think a lot of men out there see every woman who comes into their lives as a mommy figure. They’re so used to women existing for the sole purpose of lifting them up, helping them grow, pushing them along, and supporting them. Perhaps men who were smothered as children do this the most, and are just the worst. They just see women as accessories to their lives rather than individuals with their own goals, aspirations, and narratives. Do you know a man like this? Does this sound at all familiar? My dad falls a bit under that category, and my mom played right into it, so for a while, I chose relationships that were modeled after theirs. That’s what we do, until we learn better.
I had to take responsibility for my actions, though. I kept dating these man-children who demanded all of my attention and love and support and threw total tantrums when I had a life of my own. But nobody forced me to date them. I picked them. I had to learn to break that cycle. Sure, it’s flattering to have a man lean on you so much, but you know what’s better? Having a man who supports your independence. So, do you always take on the supporting role in your relationships?
You cancel plans to comfort him
If you have plans you’ve been looking forward to, but your partner has had a rough day, you’ll cancel your plans to stay home and comfort him. In fact, he asks you to. And then, when you do, it doesn’t even seem like he really appreciates that you did that. You just watch him play video games while he barely speaks to you, but if you get up to go to the kitchen he asks, “Where are you goooing?” like a toddler.
Or to be at his thing
He often insists that he absolutely needs you on his arm at this convention, work party, industry event, etc. If you say that you were going to go out with friends, he accuses you of caring more about partying than being a supportive partner. So you cancel your plans to go with him to his thing. Then he basically abandons you and talks shop with colleagues the whole night.
You don’t share your stresses
You never tell him when you’ve had a stressful day. In fact, you go out of your way to conceal stress from him. You feel that your stress is yours and you shouldn’t put it on him. You often put on a happy face when you’re secretly very upset, just so that you don’t accidentally offset his day or mood.
But you take on all of his
Meanwhile, though you’re over here hiding all of your stresses and negative experiences so as to not stress out your partner, you take on all of his stuff. He just sprays his moods all over the place, throwing tantrums, and taking out his day on you. And you just absorb it, because you know it’s good for him to let it out. But what about you?
In fact, you’re the greatest listener
You’re an exceptional listener. One of the best. When he says he needs to talk, you drop what you’re doing, join him on the couch, and look at him while he drones on about his problems. In fact, he lies down on the couch, or on your lap, like you’re his therapist/mommy. When he says he needs to talk, he has your undivided attention.
But after he vents, he’s tired
After he’s done venting, he’s too tired to listen to you. You have tried to say—after listening to him and talking him through his stuff—“Okay, my turn.” He just said, “I’m so exhausted. Can we not do this right now?” Or he pretends to listen while he watches TV or looks at his emails.
Your life is just a nuisance to him
If you ask him to attend a work event with you—like an office party, or a convention at which you’ll be speaking—he groans. He rolls his eyes. He asks if he has to come. He asks if it’s important. His immediate reaction to it, is that it’s a problem—an annoyance. But, you wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t important…
You bend over backwards for him
Even though your partner sees any event pertaining to your career as a bother, you bend over backwards to make it to all of his things—big and small. You move things around, fight through traffic, multi-task like crazy, and never, ever, make him feel like it’s a bother for you to be at his events.
You truly invest in his journey
You know everything that is going on with him, because you pay attention. You even just hear him mumble to himself and you hear his loud work calls, so you just know what’s going on. You know about his big projects, the problem he’s having with that colleague, the upcoming convention, the big pitch meeting, and so on.
He has no clue what’s happening in yours
On the flip side, he hasn’t got a clue what’s going on with you. Not a clue. You have mentioned many times that today is the big day that you meet with investors/give that talk/showcase at that convention. Now, here you are, getting all ready, dressed up, documents and briefcase in hand, and he asks if you’d like to go grab pizza. When you say you can’t, he asks, “Why? Where are you going?”
He doesn’t know what he’d do without you
Maybe he says it. Maybe he doesn’t. But you know he’d be lost without you. You help him stay organized. You remind him of his important appointments and to send that person a follow-up email. You make him dinner when he’ll be working late and doesn’t even realize he’ll work so late that restaurants will be closed but you know, and you save the night with your lasagna.
But without him, you’d be fine
If you really think about it, you’d be just fine without him. He really doesn’t do much to enhance your life or make it easier so…you wouldn’t really miss his “help” if it weren’t there. In fact, your life might be easier without him because then you wouldn’t be helping him with all of his stuff on top of handling your stuff.
His mom acts the same way
His mom may be part of the problem. If you see that she coddles him, lives for him, revolves her life around him, wakes and breathes just to help his life and his tasks, you can see where this all began. Mothers must be attentive, of course, but his mother is still essentially his secretary and housekeeper, and he’s a grown man. If he gets that from his mom, he’ll expect it from his girlfriend.
His friends’ wives do it too
His friends’ wives fall perfectly in line with the role he wants you to fulfill. When you get together with them, for a girls’ night, they all just talk about their husbands and boyfriends. They talk about the big projects they’re working on and how stressed they are and how they can help them. Oh no. You’re becoming one of them.
You don’t feel encouraged
You don’t feel that he in any way moves you forward. He doesn’t push you, motivate you, or energize you. None of your inspiration in any way comes from him. You couldn’t attribute any of your success or sanity or organization to him. You do it all on your own, but that’s not how it should feel when you’re in a relationship.