Relationships: Takers and Caretakers
by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Takers and caretakers they
often seem to find each other! As a counselor who has worked with
relationships for 37 years, I can tell you that this is the most
frequent relationship dynamic that I encounter.
Takers are people who tend to be
narcissistic that is, they are self-centered with an excessive
need for attention and admiration. The taker attempts to control
getting love, attention, approval or sex from others with anger,
blame, violence, criticism, irritation, righteousness, neediness,
invasive touch, invasive energy, incessant talking and/or emotional
drama. The taker uses many forms of both overt and covert control to
get the attention he or she wants.
Takers not only want a lot of
control, but are often afraid of being controlled and become overtly
or covertly resistant to doing what someone else wants them to do.
The taker might resist with denial, defending, procrastination,
rebellion, irresponsibility, indifference, withdrawal, deadness,
numbness, rigidity, and/or incompetence.
In a relationship, takers operate
from the belief that You are responsible for my feelings of pain
and joy. It is your job to make sure that I am okay.
Caretakers, on the other hand,
operate from the belief that I am responsible for your feelings.
When I do it right, you will be happy and then I will receive the
approval I need. Caretakers sacrifice their own needs and wants
to take care of the needs and wants of others, even when others are
capable of doing it themselves. Caretakers give to others from fear
rather than love - they give to get.
Neither takers nor caretakers take
responsibility for their own feelings and wellbeing. Takers
generally attempt to have control over others giving them the
attention and admiration they want in overt ways, while caretakers
attempt to have control over getting approval in more covert ways,
such as compliance, doing to much for others, and/or withholding
their wants and opinions.
Because neither takers nor
caretakers are taking care of themselves, they will each end up
feeling angry, resentful, trapped, unappreciated, unseen, unloved,
misunderstood, and/or unacknowledged.
I tell my clients that whenever
they feel this way in a relationship, it is because they are
expecting the other person to give them what they are not giving to
themselves. When we are not seeing, valuing, acknowledging, or
understanding ourselves, and when we are not attending to our own
wants and needs, we will always feel upset when others treat us just
like we are treating ourselves.
relationships of two takers, two caretakers, or a taker and a
caretaker will always run into problems. Many people leave these
relationships, only to discover the same problems in their next
relationships. Takers and caretakers can switch places in different
relationships and over different issues, but the problems remain the
same anger, resentment, distance, lack of sexuality, boredom,
feeling unloved and unloving.
There really is a way to heal this.
Relationships heal when individuals
heal. When each partner does their inner work for example
practicing the Inner Bonding process that we teach (see www.innerbonding.com
for a free course) their relationship system heals. When each
person learns to take full personal responsibility for his or her
own feelings of pain and joy, they stop pulling on each other and
blaming each other. When each person learns to fill themselves with
love and share that love with each other, instead of always trying
to get love, the relationship heals.
Learning how to take100%
responsibility for your own feelings is one of the essential
ingredients in creating a healthy relationship. This means learning
to be conscious of what you are feeling and being open to learning
about what you are doing to create your own feelings, instead of
being a victim and believing that others are causing your feelings.
Your feelings come from how you treat yourself and others, from what
you tell yourself and what you believe about yourself and others,
rather than from others behavior. Blaming others for your feelings
will always lead to major relationship problems.
Why not start today by taking your
eyes off your partner and putting them squarely on yourself? In
reality, you are the only one you actually have control over. You
are the only one you can change.