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I Never Want Another Relationship Where I Feel Like I Have to Parent My Partner

·386 words·2 mins

“I know why it didn’t work out with my ex,” I say. “It’s because to get him to do anything, I had to push him. And remind him. And remind him again. Otherwise, he never did anything. And so not only did I have to do all the un-fun stuff, he’d sit around getting depressed even though he was doing fun stuff. All play and no work sounds like fun, but it can do weird things to your neurochemistry after a while.”

“Word,” my friend says. “He probably would have said that wasn’t why we he was depressed, but…”

I nod. “It was like I needed to be more like a parent than a partner,” I say. “When we were together, people would blame me for how he was. They kept saying I needed to make him do more. Make him? I’d ask once and he’d be snotty and accuse me of nagging him. Start fights and insult me. It was always more work to ask him to do things than to do it myself. And that’s not what I want out of a relationship.”

“Me neither,” my friend replies.

“I knew I wanted to be in a situation where we’re both self-motivated. Where we care about the other. And like… where it only takes one reminder, if any, for us to do something. You know?”

“I do,” my friend says. They’re in the same boat. And it’s looking like their current partner is going to end up their ex-partner. At this point, it seems more like a matter of logistics than anything else. How to entangle peaceably. It’s a bummer.

“It was hard to leave even so,” I confess.


“Yeah,” I say. “I was supporting him. Doing everything for him. I didn’t know how he was going to survive without me. But a funny thing happened when I left.” I pause and then add, “He started doing stuff for himself.”

And another funny thing happened to me when I left: I found myself in a serious relationship where we both did our share. Where neither one of us had to parent the other.

No matter what the future has in store for me, I know one thing for sure: I never want another relationship where I feel like I have to parent my partner.


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