Are you a radiator, actor, employee or child in your relationship? Forget infidelity and mismatched libidos… psychologist Emma Kenny explains the dynamics that really do spell doom for any couple.
While being a radiator means you are warm, loving and giving, it also attracts you to emotional drains.
Over time they will drain out more and more of you until there is nothing left, and you are physically, emotionally and mentally spent.
In a relationship, the drain doesn’t like to expend energy on anyone other than themselves, so they show very little interest in their partner’s life or in engaging or communicating in general.
The drain will make little effort, and when they do, it’s usually because they want their partner to tend to their needs.
The radiator acts as an enabler, trying to accommodate their partner’s needs, believing they will eventually find a solution.
But this keeps them trapped in a marriage that emotionally bleeds them dry.
Can you fix it? Due to each partner’s temperament, while the marriage may last thanks to the co-dependency, it is unlikely it will ever be happy or healthy.
The drain believes they are entitled to have their needs met, and the radiator wishes to please.
This situation could perhaps be remedied if the radiator walked out so that the drain received a wake-up call. This would help them recognize the ingratitude they have shown their partner and inspire them to prove they have learned the error of their ways. The drain would benefit from some one-to-one therapy.
One always tries to please – boss/employee
IN this relationship, the employee wants their partner’s constant validation. However tiny a gesture, they wish to be graded on it.
Because they are continuously terrified they may lose their job and be replaced, they exist in an exhausting cycle of living to please their other half.
This means they can never relax, always feeling anxious that they are getting things wrong, which in turn means they lack confidence, which infuriates their partner.
The boss in the relationship believes they are better than their partner and often views them as weaker and less capable. In reality, they are more than happy to stand on life’s sidelines while they simply direct their partner to do whatever needs doing.
The boss likes to make the employee feel disposable because it means they try harder to please them. The employee has been trained to strive for better but is rarely rewarded for doing so, leaving them feeling lonely and unloved.
Can you fix it? The effort in this relationship is so one-sided, so once the employee burns out, often so does the relationship.
Having tired of always having to please their partner, they move on or get so despondent that the boss essentially fires them.
For this type of partnership to heal, the employee needs to learn assertiveness, to learn to say no. The boss will then respect them more. The relationship may still fail, as the employee realizes they’ve been taken for granted.
One puts on a show for friends – actor/extra
There is a lot of conflict because the partner in the actor role spends a lot of their time trying to convince other people that they have a picture-perfect life, even though in reality their relationship is in tatters.
They spend so much time living in a fantasy that their partner feels like they are simply an extra in their lives.
The actor will often exaggerate their accomplishments in the relationship, something that infuriates their partner, the “extra”, as they believe this is a deception.
The “extra” feels their partner is a fantasist, which makes them untrustworthy.
Due to the lack of authenticity in this relationship, neither party feels satisfied, meaning each believes the other is to blame for their unhappiness.
To deal with rejection the “extra” takes any opportunity to belittle, and humiliate, their partner.
Can you fix it? Because there has been an enormous breakdown in trust within this relationship, both parties may feel that a clean break is better. Neither partner feels fulfilled and there is little to no respect.
A communication overhaul would be required for this relationship to find its feet and would involve absolute honesty on all sides. The actor may choose to sever the relationship so they can continue to live in their fantasy world.
Relationship therapy could help the couple stay together — or go their separate ways without the drama that the actor would otherwise be inclined to play out in public.
One party makes all decisions – parent/child
Neither of you knows how to be equal adults. Instead, the parent holds all the power and the child is made to feel helpless.
Relationships thrive when partners act as collaborators, ensuring they equally carry life’s burdens. But the parent/child partnership is the opposite, with the parent partner making all the key decisions, even when these may fail to benefit the other party.
Because these actions make the child partner feel vulnerable and suffocated, they can act out in a childish manner — slamming doors, screaming, going into moods for days and refusing temporarily to comply with whatever their partner is demanding.
The person in the parent role will then become more punitive, becoming highly critical of their partner until they behave in a manner deemed appropriate.
While the parent partner is highly controlling, they also resent how poorly equipped their partner is and can’t see how their own behaviour adds to their problems.
Instead, they feel they have to carry all responsibilities alone, adding to their disdain and lack of respect for their partner.
As both refuse to believe they are the problem, they repeat the cycle constantly.
Can you fix it? To make the relationship function, both parties need to start communicating as adults, which means completely changing communication styles.
The parent must stop being so controlling, allowing the child a more active role in decision-making and life direction. Because this kind of dynamic is often toxic, seeking professional help is wise.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.
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