There are usually good intentions of love and helpfulness behind being exceptionally useful. Yet, over-functioning by “doing everything” often stems from an unconscious impulse to increase another person’s dependence on and loyalty to the relationship.
All relationships involve some degree of dependence. For most people it’s quite nice when another person helps out. Yet, as one partner does an extravagant share of the work, the other partner may start feeling engulfed and overwhelmed by the assistance. He or she may feel encumbered with a growing sense of obligation, causing desire to be with the partner to fade.
When people become highly dependent on their partners, a sense of indebtedness bordering on guilt causes passion and intimacy to suffer. While it’s important that partners are considerate and helpful, it’s equally important to avoid letting dependency and indebtedness smother desire.
Those who tend to over-function would improve their relationships by focusing more on their own enjoyment and desires and giving their partner greater breathing room and independence. This means resisting doing everything, even at the risk that some things won’t be executed as well as they like.
As Kahlil Gibran wrote in “The Prophet,”
Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD