Are you putting others’ needs before your own? Are you always the one who gives more, tries more and does more in a relationship?
Are you overly empathic? Do you have the tendency to sacrifice your own needs, plans, and dreams to accommodate somebody else?
If the answer to most of these questions is, “Yes,” odds are you are an emotional caretaker. You are so used to taking care of others that you forget that you’re in need of care for yourself.
You mean well but you are doing yourself so much harm. You are putting everyone else before you. You are going out of your way to do things for others and it comes to you naturally.
You do it without even giving it a second thought. It’s only later that you realize you are doing all the heavy lifting and you resent them later when you realize that all that giving has left you empty.
The most dangerous thing about being an emotional caretaker is that you can easily become a victim of narcissists, emotional manipulators, and other toxic people because you have so much to give and they are used to taking.
Here are 6 signs you should be looking for in yourself to check if you are indeed an emotional caretaker:
1. You are giving up a lot to be in that relationship
You are giving up what matters the most to you without even realizing it. There is a huge gap between you and your friends or even your family.
You are walking away from your interests and goals and ignoring your usual activities. You have basically lost yourself in him and you don’t recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.
You redirected your focus and energy solely onto him. Maybe he wanted it that way or maybe it’s your natural urge to take care of the one you love and you overdo it.
2. You are going against your better judgment
You know that person is not treating you right. All they do is take, take, take, without ever pausing to validate your efforts, let alone to give something back.
Their behavioral patterns vary but making you feel small, insulting you or offending your beliefs is what overshadows all the rest.
If you are an emotional caretaker, you will find all sorts of ways to defend them and make excuses for their inexcusable actions.
3. You feel unappreciated
It’s almost like your partner doesn’t see you or doesn’t want to see you. No matter what you do or how hard you try, it all goes unnoticed. You are taken for granted.
You are forgetting one crucial component of every good relationship—reciprocity. You need someone who will make as much effort as you do.
You need somebody who matches your investments. Somebody to be your equal, not somebody you are trying to make content and happy all the time.
4. You are keeping secrets from your loved ones
You don’t share what’s happening to you and you keep bottling it all up inside. All your loved ones know is that you are different, you’ve changed, and they keep telling you that.
You are ashamed of your current position, you hate that you are unvalued or treated poorly in your relationship and you have a hard time admitting it to others around you.
That’s also one of the reasons why you pull away from your friends and family; you don’t like to see them concerned and you don’t like them asking too many questions so it’s easier to keep your distance.
5. You feel powerless
In a healthy relationship, you make decisions together. Nobody assumes the role of the boss. In your relationship, that’s not the case, as your partner has a say in everything you do or want to do.
You are in a situation where you have to ask for his approval. You feel like you have to fight for your basic right to live your life your own way.
They make you feel like you are not good enough and feelings of helplessness consume you. You feel like you are in a situation that you can’t escape from.
If this is the scenario you are living in, you are not just an emotional caretaker, you are also a victim of emotional abuse and you have to leave that relationship ASAP.
6. You resent yourself for trying too hard
You want things to change for the better in your relationship and you are trying too hard to make that happen. You never give up because you are in caretaker mode, making sure that your partner is as happy as he can be.
By doing that, you are not accomplishing anything. Everything stays the same no matter what you do.
That’s why it’s the perfect time to do the opposite. Stop trying. Redirect your focus from him onto yourself. Give him and yourself some space to determine if he is at all invested in you.
One more thing you can do if you recognize yourself as an emotional caretaker is learn how to demand.
You also need the love and care you are giving your partner, so maybe it’s time to ask for that back.
Value, respect and cherish yourself. Work constantly on yourself and on improving your confidence.
That’s the only way you will stop being an emotional caretaker and be in a healthy and strong relationship where both of you take care of each other equally.