Are You a Caregiver, Or a Partner?
“You take such good care of him.”
“I don’t know what he would do without you.”
“I’m so glad you’re in his life to keep him straightened up.”
“He’s so lucky to have a girl like you.”
I used to crave these words. They were like a warm reassuring blanket. They could make just about anything better. They could soothe resentments. They could justify chronic heartbreaks. They could help me hang on a bit longer.
My worth used to be caught up in these words. If I could be nurturing, motivating, patient, tolerant, selfless, and responsible, I could earn these words. Everyone would see my sacrifice. Everyone would see my love WAS ENOUGH to make him a good person. Everyone would see how much he NEEDED me in order to be successful. Everyone would see how INVALUABLE I was.
Today, these words make my skin crawl. They are bright RED FLAGS.
Because today, I want a PARTNER, not a CHILD.
I don’t get to use another person to fill some fucked up internal self-worth deficit. I don’t get to use another person as a project to convince me I am valuable and loveable. I don’t get to adopt a grown man as a child in order to get accolades.
Because that’s not love.
That’s not honoring.
That’s fucked up.
Partnership means I support my partner as he does HIS OWN work.
Partnership means GETTING OUT OF THE WAY of his process.
Partnership means BELIEVING in my partner’s abilities and resiliency.
Partnership means KNOWING he is RESPONSIBLE for his own solutions.
Partnership means NOT mothering, managing, and controlling his decisions.
Partnership means TRUSTING my partner’s ability to DO HARD THINGS.
Harder? Fuck yeah.
Less compliments? Yep.
More judgment? Heaps more.
Because we are used to relationships that look more like parent-child relationships than partnerships. We are used to DISEMPOWERMENT being the NORM. We are used to seeing people baby each other, never actually requiring their best selves to show up.
When we truly require EQUAL CONTRIBUTION, then we truly have a PARTNERSHIP that is empowering and holds both people accountable to their potential. No one is caretaking. No one is tolerating. No one is accommodating lower standards.
Because a PARTNERSHIP is not a caretaking relationship. A PARTNERSHIP is not a parental relationship. A PARTNERSHIP is not a free pass for subpar standards because you know they’ll put up with it.
It’s time we get clear about what type of relationship we have and why. This type of honesty is so painful most people never do it. Are you brave enough to go there yet?