If you’re feeling run down by your relationship and like there’s an imbalance, there may be a reason. You could be doing more emotional labor than your partner—and if you’re a woman in a heterosexual relationship, you likely are. Here are some signs you’re picking up too much of your partner’s slack.
He avoids talking about feelings. Whenever an issue is brought up, your partner has very few emotions around the situation. He may seem numb or detached because he doesn’t really want to talk about feelings—yours, his, or otherwise. In fact, he’ll do everything he can to avoid the conversation. This leaves you with very valid feelings that just have to get stuffed away, meaning you have a huge emotional burden left over.
He criticizes anything about your physical appearance. Run like hell if you have a partner who tells you that you need to lose weight or at all alter your appearance. You may be carrying the weight of that comment he just made about how you should shave your legs or drop a few pounds. This is all total garbage. He doesn’t have the right to try and change you and nor should he want to. This leaves you with an emotional hangover of thinking you aren’t good enough when you are.
He’s a mansplainer. Tell me that it isn’t totally tiring when a man explains something to you that you already know, perhaps better than he does—especially when it’s something like the science behind a period or feminism. Mansplaining is a sure-fire sign that you’re doing more emotional labor because you’re holding space for this doofus who isn’t taking you seriously.
He often dumps heavy stuff on you. You’ve suggested to him several times that he should get a therapist, but why would he if he has you to dump on? There’s a level of being there for your partner that’s healthy, but there’s a line. That line exists when you start to feel really weighed down by what he’s saying. You feel as if you’re bearing his burdens, and this is when it’s time for boundaries.
You have to defend the fact that you’re not crying because you’re on your period. This is a crappy jab. Your partner asks if you’re on your period if you get emotional in any way. He’s really invalidating your feelings and making stupid assumptions. This is an example of you doing the emotional labor because you have to manage your feelings as well as manage his. Your period seldom has anything to do with your mood.
You’re scared of asking what you need because you don’t want to be labeled needy. Your partner makes you feel like you ask for too much. Often you have very reasonable requests stemming from your needs and wants yet you’re scared to ask for fear of being told you’re needy. This is total crap. You’re not needy because you have needs and anyone who makes you feel that way isn’t worth your time.
You go to the doctor and take steps to reduce pregnancy risk. This one is unlikely to change, but if you’re with a man then you’re probably doing all the work around preventing pregnancy. His responsibility is just to buy and put on the condoms while you have to go to the doctor and get birth control. Nevermind having to also deal with the effects of the birth control or difficult procedures like IUDs. You’re carrying much of the emotional weight.
You do most of the work (cleaning, planning, cooking). The biggest sign that you’re doing more emotional work than your partner is that you do more household chores than he does. You cook the meals, clean the apartment, and schedule the vet appointments for your dog. There’s an imbalance and it’s weighing on you. This is totally exhausting, especially because you do so many behind the scenes things you feel you aren’t at all appreciated.
You’re left to buy gifts and get cards. Even when it’s your partner’s parent or friend you’re the one stuck getting the gift and/or card. Your partner may outright ask you to do this or he may just not do it if it’s up to him, so you get it done. You may worry about looking like a jerk going to a party empty-handed, so you do the task. This leaves you with a weight to carry and an intrusion on your time.
You’re always venting to your friends. You’re exhausted from the things your partner puts you through. You always bring this tiredness to your friends, endlessly venting about your situation. It may seem normal to treat your friends as therapists, but they may have had it and you’re probably approaching that point too.
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