You meet someone that you really like. And you try to anticipate their every need, go out of your way to make them happy and end up resenting them. It turns out that trying too hard can jinx a relationship. In fact you are probably an emotional caretaker. HowDoIDate.com writes about this problem.
Emotional caretakers are caring, concerned, generous, and reliable people. They sincerely want to please others and are generally nice people. However, they can be easily manipulated by others because they tend to be passive and overly compliant, and to have high levels of guilt and obligation, or fear of anger in others. An emotional caretaker would rather feel hurt, angry, or depressed themselves rather than have the person they care about experience any of those feelings. This makes them highly vulnerable to being taken advantage of and mistreated in relationships with people who are highly self-oriented and selfish.
Even people who are not all that manipulative get used to being taken care of. So if your good feelings come from serving the needs of others you will end up creating situations that make you feel good for a while. And your new friend will go along because being the servant seems to make you happy. Then you get angry and depressed because sooner or later trying too hard to please can jinx a relationship. If this is your life story of relationships what can you do?
Find another Caring Person
If you are a caretaker by nature it is poison to go out with an emotional manipulator. At least if you date another person who is a care taker the two of you can take turns being nice to and taking care of the needs of each other. Each of you will find that your sense of loyalty is rewarded. But how about fixing the problem instead?
Learn to Like Yourself and Set Boundaries
There is a way out of the caretaker trap. The Huffington Post writes about being a caretaker in a relationship.
We are being caretakers when we ignore our own feelings and instead take responsibility for another’s pain and joy. Instead of taking responsibility for our own wellbeing, we put our feelings in a closet, and taking care of another’s feelings.
Caretakers believe that they are selfish if they take care of themselves instead of care-take others. They believe that they do not deserve to take care of themselves – that they have to earn love. It’s not that they don’t know how to love themselves – it’s that they don’t believe that they have the right to love themselves unless they are alone and no one needs them.
Getting rid of your sense that you don’t count, don’t deserve happiness until everyone else is OK and that love needs to be earned can be difficult. Psychology Today has a couple of good tips on how to love yourself. Start telling yourself, repeatedly, that it is not selfish to take care of yourself. Then learn to maintain boundaries and do the things that are fulfilling to you.
Write a list of the things that you need emotionally, things that are important to you and that upset you or hurt your feelings when they are ignored or violated. And when someone ignores what’s important to you or crosses your boundary, you’ll know-because it hurts. Don’t ignore that. Your feelings are there to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.
When someone crosses your boundaries tell them. And think about the things that make you feel good and do those things, go to those places or be with those people. This nourishes your soul and keeps you from filling that gaping hole by trying too hard to care for and please other people.