• Robin Parry

The Downside of being Dependable and Responsible

Being dependable and responsible are good qualities to have and attractive to most people looking for a suitable life partner but if over-used they can influence under-achievement in the people around you. The important thing is to set healthier boundaries around load sharing and resist the temptation to take over just because you can. If you keep a curb on your super-responsible self, relationships will work much better for you and you are also less likely to be flattered into doing more than is reasonable to expect.

Resisting super-responsible behaviour is incredibly difficult though if you are embroiled in a domestic violence relationship. The abuser might start off using flattery to get you to do more than your share but it will quickly turn into threats with the potential for dire outcomes if you don’t step up. Abusers can engage in all sorts of manipulative behaviours. Some walk off their jobs without thought of financial survival. Others max out their credit cards; make huge purchases without the means to repay, or engage in more discretionary spending than you can afford. On the home front they might “forget” to put out the garbage, not send out customer’s accounts, not help in the house or with children, not make repayments where financial penalties will apply such as outstanding Body Corporate, home mortgage, tax or Council fees. When faced with these unjust and potentially alarming behaviours abused women engage in heroic efforts to do more and earn more to keep the home afloat. Meanwhile he can happily bask in doing not much at all because he knows she will fill the void.

To begin to challenge this scary behaviour of his you might ask yourself the following questions. What is the worse thing that could happen if I don’t take on the responsibility? Is he likely to harm me physically? Does it matter to him whether or not we survive financially? If financial survival does matter to him and he is not physically violent then you have a chance to change his exploitative behaviour. It requires a couple of baby steps on your part. Firstly you will need to contain your panic and calm yourself down to avoid jumping in too quickly. If necessary talk to people you trust and get information about the likely results of say, his financial irresponsibility. Secondly resist the temptation to put yourself forward for fixing problems of his creation. Simply step back for a little while to see if he comes up with a solution to fix the problem himself. If it is a smaller issue such as missing the garbage collection then just let it happen even if there is a pile of smelly garbage bags left at the back door by the end of the week. Don’t make an issue of it. Tolerate the inconvenience. It is simply a natural consequence of him not doing his job. If it’s not your problem, don’t take it on, at least initially.

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