Saturday, October 31, 2009

Being taken care of vs. being dominated

I have this friend who has got this really nice boyfriend. I like him pretty well.

The thing is, I can't tell if she is being dominated or being taken care of. Initially, I liked the boyfriend a lot because he takes care of my friend, who...well...evokes the aura of needing to be taken care of. He carries stuff for he, he does things in the background she doesn't even realize so that things just work, it's like magic.

On the other hand, it's almost like he thinks she can't do anything for herself. Granted, I have my doubts too about her ability to do certain things as well, but I can't decided if the dynamic between them two is sweet or scary.

When does "oh honey, let me do that for you" become, "oh honey, let me do that before you (because i think you'll destroy something in the process and everything is better when i do it)"?

Even worse, does the latter actually create a feedback loop SUCH THAT the person becomes worse and worse at doing things? I think that's sort of happening and it makes me concerned for my friend.


momphdstudent said...

Sounds like an hovering parent/mother hen!

PhysioProf said...

If this is to the level that it is noticable to third parties, then it is very worrisome. It would not surprise me at all if your friend's boyfriend is a scary control freak with the potential to become abusive.

Professor in Training said...

I have a close friend who seems to be in a similar situation and PP's comment about the boyfriend being a scary control freak with abusive potential is a definite concern of mine (I know that several friends are also of the same opinion). My friend doesn't do anything or go anywhere without the boyfriend anymore and won't even attend scientific meetings because he doesn't want her away from him for anything longer than a couple of hours.

I don't know what to do as she insists that she is in love with this guy even though he appears to be very, very bad news (and there's something about him that makes my skin crawl). I keep hoping that she'll come to her senses one day.

Alyssa said...

Do your other friends feel that something might be wrong as well? Like PP said, it's a bad sign if a third party thinks something is wrong. Definitely keep an eye on his behavior, and hers as well (if she starts totally secluding herself from her friends/family, etc.)

Nicky said...

I have a friend on the other side of what you're describing: a really nice guy who loves taking care of people, and found himself a girlfriend who just keeps handing him more and more things for him to handle for her. They're at the point where they're not living together but he does all housework for her, he pays her rent & bills, he prepares all her meals, and does 100% of the care for her pets. It's... unsettling.

My opinion: relationships like that aren't healthy for either party. Total equality in relationships is impossible, but I kinda think that people should make an honest effort. Early in their relationship, I quietly mentioned a few oddities to my friend, to no avail. Six years later, I've decided that no one is getting seriously hurt, and if they're both happy, well, to each their own.

If your friend is looking trapped or manipulated, you should intervene. But if she's just enjoying being pampered and the guy is the sort who enjoys doing it, I'd leave them to it.

PhizzleDizzle said...

I think in this case, it might be more like what Nicky describes. He never tries to control where she goes or who she sees (and they have been together a while), he just...always jumps in whenever she tries to do something physical or "manly". It's clear he thinks she couldn't hack her way out of a paper bag if she were stranded on a desert island, but most of the time I think she doesn't mind, except when she does (rarely).

So...yeah, I do think it's some sort of bizarro co-dependent thing that I would never want to be in but they seem perfectly happy. And I don't think any of her other friends are concerned. In fact, now that i think about it, most of her other friends are in a similar boat, I feel...where the "man" takes care of stuff for the girl and assumes she doesn't know anything about certain things.

It really drives me crazy because I'm like, "seriously, do you all assume a girl can't use a hammer? that she can't carry anything without dropping it? that she can't open jars? or use a screwdriver without messing something up? that women are just adorable ditzes who are good at crafts??" The worst part is, for many of the girls it's true. I think it's a feedback loop though. Sigh.

ScienceGirl said...

I have a few friends like what Nicky describes (yes, most of my friends are guys), and I always feel sorry for them because I feel they get taken advantage of. But it seems to work for them, and I just hope that in the end they will end up with people that appreciate their efforts and don't try to use them. Personally I couldn't handle being "helped" all the time like that, but what do I know.