Whether you are in a long-term relationship or marriage, are just dating, or are seeking out a relationship; a relationship status is something you might be concerned with. To understand the application of this concept, let’s begin with a story.
I was listening to a woman chatting with a friend the other day. It went something like this:
“Oh yeah, we broke up. I don’t understand why, though? I did everything for him. I would make his lunch before he went to work. I would do his laundry on occasion if it was lying around. I would grab his favorite beer if I was at the market. We would cook dinner and always watch his favorite sports team. I just don’t understand? But I am dating someone else. He works at five a.m. usually, so I am going to go over to his place soon, so I can make his lunch and hang out with him before he goes to bed.”
I wanted so badly to intervene this conversation right then and there. I wanted to scream out to her. I wanted to tell her that she would find herself dumbed again in a couple of months, with no understanding of what she did wrong and why she can’t keep a man around.
Instead of imparting my unsolicited advice to a stranger, I will offer it here to anyone who would like to read it. I call it PPS- Partner Preoccupation Syndrome. A syndrome is defined as; a collection of signs and symptoms known to frequently appear together but without a known cause. During Partner Preoccupation Syndrome, you are more preoccupied by taking care of your partner than taking care of yourself. This syndrome is more commonly found in women than in men, but it can make a good relationship unbalance quickly.
The example above exhibits this. PPS is not contagious; it is actually the opposite. Both partners can not have it at the same time, as it only affects one party; if there is equal share and collaboration in a relationship, we would not see this happen. However, when a partner gets PPS they don’t really understand it. If PPS goes on long enough in a specific relationship, the other party will probably break it off or walk away, simply because there is no challenge. This is not the same as, ” They ask you to jump and you say how high.” This is more subtle and most people do it without realizing.
PPS is easy to diagnose and treat. If you have ever told a story similar to the one above, you probably have PPS. If you have a good heart and a need to take care of people, try putting that energy into something else other than your partner. Volunteer somewhere, help out your grandma, or establish a hobby or routine that does not involve doing something for your partner. Do your own laundry. Watch your favorite shows. Stay at your place or clean only your house.
You will probably have to consciously think about stopping this pattern, but once you have trained yourself to not be too preoccupied with your partner; you may be able to free yourself from PPS.
Now, there is nothing wrong with taking care of your partner, but it becomes a problem when it is a pattern that includes multiple failed relationships as a result.
If you ever have this question of your extinguished relationships: I don’t know what I am doing wrong, maybe it is time to change that.
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The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.