Historically undervalued and certainly under compensated, women’s work in the field of emotional labor has recently become a big part of the conversation regarding modern feminism. Whether it’s romantic entanglements, family fallouts or unequal friendships, the tasks we take on to keep those around us from floundering can offer little reciprocation in terms of emotional currency. If you are seeking to build a life filled with fair and balanced relationship transactions say “take this job and shove it” to these all too common positions.
Has the last person you dated gone on to immediately find the love of their life? Have the last five? Do you make a habit of dating folx fresh out of LTRs or slumps? You, my friend, have a Ph.D. in Freaky Therapy. It’s a really confusing gig, as at first the job seems noble and super fun. Since they’d been out of the game for so long your
patients dates are ready for all the sexy, sexy sex they’ve missed out on- which is all well and good, but the if you find your time out of the sheets listening to the horrors of, problems caused by, and tears regarding an ex or their feelings regarding their break up- you’re an unpaid therapist. It’s also a great way to ignore your own problems in lieu of someone else’s. Of course, you should be emotionally supportive of someone you’re dating, but the difference between a potentially solid partnership and freaky therapy is that emotional sharing and support is a two-way street. If you find your feelings quickly dismissed or barely acknowledged only to have the conversation re-directed back to them and their problems/pain, that is heavy emotional labor. And unfortunately, it is heavy labor that rarely pays off because much like an actual therapist, once someone works past their pain they tend to want to shed the things they’ve associated with it- including you.
Emotional Test Dummy
People often comment on how strong you are, and man, have you been through it! So often people who are labeled survivors are somehow also regarded as Teflon. You are known for being able to resistant copious amounts of emotional damage, so you find yourself frequently riding shotgun with people who are about to go over the cliff. If the majority of your relationships are with people in crisis- you’ve accepted the position of Emotional Test Dummy. These situations can be super passionate at first because the stakes are always high and fraught with feelings, but the hits you take to deflect impact on your partner will leave you limp, broken, eventually further hardened (“what doesn’t kill you”, right?) and immediately back in the cycle because you’ll subject yourself to even more extreme situations just so you can feel something.
You consider yourself an optimist, you’re big on a potential and your TV is currently set on HGTV. Unlike those small-minded folks in the throws of house hunting, you can successfully see past a person’s current “paint job”. Not only that, you can imagine all the far-fetched possibilities in any potential partner. Maybe you don’t want to be out in the cold harsh world of singledom or friendship by yourself so you buy the cheapest fixer you can and concentrate on your dreams of how great it will be years down the road to keep you warm. But here’s something you only learn with experience- You can’t live comfortably in a fixer. It’s exhausting. Something will always be wrong. The amount of work you’ll invest to keep the walls from crumbling will never be worth the finished product- because the finished product is a human being, who if worth anything, doesn’t want to be gutted and rebuilt, but supported and accepted for who they already are. The decision to completely renovation as a person has to be made by them as an individual, free of prodding or it will be warped in resentment and you’ll basically end up “flipping” that property for someone else to call home. In adult relationships and real estate, you’ll never find a used place in perfect condition. Challenge yourself to wait until you find a place without major foundation damage and quirks you can live with before you offer up an emotional downpayment.
Fantasy Fulfillment Specialist
You’re everyone’s “dream girl” because your relationships don’t exist in reality. If you are letting the vast majority of your interactions with people occur online instead of in person you are not requiring the authenticity needed for emotionally healthy connections. The hours spent as an FFS can range from part-time, non-committal flirtiness with those potential partners who like all of your posts but never actually ask you out, to hours spent crafting the perfect Instagrammed image, to full-time, emotional affair situations. Either way, you are accepting the Monopoly money of emotional currency and creating expectations you will ever be able to live up to IRL. That’s why so many online daters who linger in the chat-o-sphere rarely become actual partners- by the time you’ve actually met the person you’ve both crafted persona in a warped reality, and unfortunately, more often than not, people who want to keep your relationship in cyberspace have something to hide. Demand people in your life know the real you- zits, farts, tears and all- and be authentic even when it’s scary. If people aren’t willing to build relationships with you in the real world with all its problems and challenges and downright realness, they aren’t worth your time or emotional investment.
Do you find yourself “forgetting” to mention your latest raise, new love or personal milestone because your friend will pick it apart, dismiss it or try and one up you? Is it easier to pretend that everything is so-so when it’s actually super shiny in the spirit of comradery? For whatever reason -and we say whatever because you’ll never know the reason; It’s completely their problem- some people can not be happy for others. More often than not it’s because they see your accomplishments as a spotlight on their failures. These relationships are usually born of mutual misery (breakups, addiction, layoffs, and death) and the person who has committed you to Humble Servitude will feel like your healing puts the relationship in danger. Sometimes they are just goddamn misanthropes who don’t want anyone to feel joy because they don’t understand it. Obviously, you don’t wave a 3 Carat sparkler in the face of someone who’s just caught their partner cheating or brag about your bonus to someone out of work, but if you are finding your proudest accomplishments diminished, belittled, ignored or boasted over on a regular basis, it’s time to break the shackles. The great thing about Humble Servitude is there is no breaking up required on your end. All you have to do is keep succeeding and sharing and these folks will fade away. Although they’ll find a way to make it “your fault” and spend a lot of time complaining about you to the next miserable person who loves company, they can find.