My therapist once told me that I try to be everything to my partner–even things that he didn’t know he needs. This was not a conscious strategy. Why in the world would I want to do something so unrealistic?
After I thought about it, I realized that I want to be indispensable so that if the person needs something, I can say, don’t go anywhere! I can fix that! That way he can’t leave me.
This is a pretty common strategy for helpers–professionals and nonprofessionals. Everyone comes to us when they have a problem. We are such good listeners. We give fantastic advice. What would they do without us?
Although being indispensable gives the illusion of safety, in reality, it has not actually prevented people from leaving me. And it has not protected me from heartbreak.
Plus there are other drawbacks. It is impossible to be all things to all people, so I can never succeed. Which increases the likelihood that I will feel like a failure.
And even when someone thinks I am everything he needs, it becomes a burden because then I have to try to convince myself that I love him.
But then when I can’t convince myself, I still can’t leave him, since I tried to be indispensable so he wouldn’t leave me. That would be unfair.
So then I just start another relationship and let the new person’s needs pull me away from my existing relationship. Which is way worse than just breaking up with the person to begin with.
Or if he breaks up with me, I’m all devastated at first, but then I realize I actually didn’t like him all that much. Which makes me feel crazy for having invested so much energy into the relationship.
The biggest problem with trying to be indispensable is that, until recently, I never asked myself what I need in a relationship. This is proving to be a difficult question to answer because, as I indicated in a previous post, I don’t know how to distinguish my wants from my needs.
Usually the guy, my family, and my friends would tell me that I’m being unreasonable. So then I would try to convince myself I don’t really need what I think I need. But that doesn’t seem fair to me.
This is exactly why I am not looking for someone to date. Too many decisions that don’t make any sense.
However, I now realize that I can choose to give myself what I need. I can even choose to give myself what I want.
So now I don’t have to worry about someone else telling me I’m unreasonable. I don’t have to be afraid of being alone. Or force myself to try to love someone. Or try be indispensable so that I won’t be abandoned. In theory, at least.
So for now, that’s what I’m working on. Reminding myself that I am indispensable–to me.