While relationships can be a combination of both giving and receiving, they can also end up being out of balance. It is then no longer an adult to adult relationship; it is something that takes on the characteristics of a parent-child relationship.
This might create the impression that they are therefore functional and healthy; especially if this brought to mind a child that is loved cared for by its parent. However, other than the fact that each person is not on the same level, it has no connection to parent–child relationship.
That is unless the parent-child relationship is dysfunctional and unhealthy. If this is the case, there are going to be many similarities. Ultimately, this relates to relationships where boundaries are nonexistent and each person’s emotional development has been stunted.
What this then leads to are relationships where each person’s growth is sabotaged. One person’s behaviour is stopping another from growing and the other person is stopping another person form growing by putting up with their behaviour. And it is also possible for one to change between the two options. It can all depend on who they are with and how they feel.
So one person places their attention on taking care of another person’s needs and wants and ignores their own. Or one is in a position where they ignore the other person’s needs and wants and focus on their own.
What The Problem?
After looking at these dynamics, one might come to the conclusion that the first one is an example of how one should be and the second one is not. Focusing on others is an example of being selfless and having others focus on us is being selfish.
However, even though this is what is taking place on the surface, it doesn’t match up with what is going on at a deeper level. No matter what role one chooses to play, they are still focused on their own needs and wants.
And the reason each person’s growth is being sabotaged is because their behaviour is unhealthy. The person who focuses on being there for others is going to come across as capable and strong. But on the inside and they are probably unaware of this, they are going feel the complete opposite.
For the person who is used to having other people being there for them, they are going to come across as being incapable and weak. In this case, one is not out of touch with how they feel and is not wearing a mask like the other person.
In order for each person to grow, it will be important for them to let go of their need to be strong or to come across as a victim. The role that they play will be what is familiar and therefore what feels safe.
So it will be a gradual process of realising that it is safe for them to show their vulnerabilities or their strength. And that they no longer need to hide their true needs and wants.
Needs And Wants
It might appear as though the person who acts like a victim is comfortable with having needs and wants and the person who comes across as capable is not. But appearances are often deceiving; as they are both in the same position.
The person who acts like a victim is likely to have the outlook that they are only able to receive attention when they are suffering. And the person who acts strong is likely to have the outlook that other people’s needs are more important than their own.
Therefore, the roles they play are an indirect way for them to get their needs and wants met. But as they have to hide their true selves, it is not going to be possible for their true needs and wants to be fulfilled.
And one of the roles that someone can play that will lead to a dysfunctional relationship is that of the caretaker. This is going to mean that one is there for others in ways that keep them stuck and in an infantile state.
When someone else has a problem it won’t be enough to just listen to them, one will want to try to fix their problem/s or to rescue them. And it won’t matter if this is asked for, as they may just do it anyway.
They will also believe that they know what is best for the other person. This is going to cause the other person to doubt themselves and they may end up becoming dependent on the caretaker. And although they are giving, there are going to be certain expectations attached.
What this comes down to is that they are unable to respect another person’s boundaries and personal reality. The people they attract or are attracted to are often going to be needy. But this doesn’t mean that they are able to accept the other people’s neediness; as they could judge others for being needy.
A Deeper Look
So even though they create the impression of being caring and of only wanting to help others, this is not the whole truth. Caretaking allows them to experience control; with this being the control of their own feelings.
This is likely to be someone who is out of touch with what is going on with them. And the kind of behaviour they are drawn to in others is going to reflect how they feel on the inside. The difference is that while the other person feels comfortable showing how they feel, they doesn’t feel comfortable showing this part of them.
To judge other people for being needy is then a natural consequence of being cut off from one’s own neediness. This is because it reminds them of what they are unable to acknowledge within themselves.
And the reason one is not only out of touch with their neediness, but also needy, is typically the result of what happened during their childhood years. This would have been a time where ones needs were neglected and one would have been expected to take care of the needs of their caregiver/s.
This would then have created a false sense of empowerment. On one hand it allowed one to feel strong and capable and yet, it also meant that their needs and wants were ignored. They would have been accepted for taking on responsibilities that were not theirs and their own needs would have been something to feel ashamed of.
So in order for one to move beyond their caretaking behaviour and to feel comfortable with having needs, they will have to get in touch with their unmet childhood needs and grieve them. And to release any trapped emotions that have remained in their body since those early years. This process can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.