Sometimes you feel like you aren’t giving as much as your partner is. This can be an imagined inequality perhaps caused by low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. But other times it is an asymmetric relationship. Is it that your lover takes advantage of your commitment? First, try to evaluate the situation. There certainly isn’t ever equality in any relationship. One person may be better at some things than the other. One is hardier, makes more money, has more friends or some other advantage. The question is, how much value do you put on your relationship and how much does your partner? It starts out in the beginning of the relationship that you two value each other immeasurably. Some couples stay at this stage or float around it. What may begin to happen is that the value on the other or the relationship may start to diminish. If it diminishes more for one person in the relationship than the other, this is what we call an asymmetric relationship. There isn’t equality in value between one person and another in this relationship. And that is where problems occur. In terms of a marriage for instance, one person may revisit his or her options now and again, putting strain on the relationship.
It comes down to one person putting more value than the other on the relationship. If there isn’t equality in what each person is contributing, then the couple must discuss the issue and come to a conclusion about it. The relationship cannot last if this problem isn’t dealt with. Eventually it will drive a wedge between the two so that the relationship will cease to exist. The bond will be broken. If one or another person wants to leave, finding themselves or the relationship devalued, they may not be able to. They may want to stick it out for financial reasons, or for the sake of the children. They could find the divorce proceedings too painful and expensive to wish to endure them. Each person must make their own choice and find their own path toward happiness. If you are in this situation and find that you cannot find your happiness staying with this person, by all means get out. But if you can find bliss and still cohabitate or even try to repair the relationship, go ahead and make it work. The trick is to reach down inside yourself and decide what it is you want, and what you can accept. But don’t let someone take advantage of you. Never give consent if you hear “If you love me, you’ll do this for me.” That isn’t real love. It’s manipulation. For more advice read, Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting, and Enjoying the Self by Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.