Signs and Symptoms of Giving Too Much: a power imbalance in a relationship does not mean that your partner is being overly demanding or abusive! When a relationship goes from balanced to imbalanced, it is rarely because one partner is actively seeking dominance over the other, and the imbalance generally occurs as a result of the actions of both people. The problem is usually subtle, at least in the early stages, and it is quite possible that neither of you will recognize what is going on. However, while it is important not to blame your partner, this is a serious situation which can have devastating effects on your self-esteem and self-image, and it needs to be corrected as soon as possible. In order to start fixing the problem, you must be able to recognize the symptoms. Start by asking yourself these basic questions:

  • How often do we do what I want when we go out? What my partner wants? 
  • Do I feel that I get stuck with most of the housework? 
  • Does my partner seem to regularly leave messes (dirty laundry, used dishes) lying around, under the assumption that I will clean them up? Do I? 
  • How often do we spend time with my friends? With my partner’s friends? 
  • Does my partner ask questions to get input on what I want or want to do? Does he seem interested in my feedback to find out whether or not I enjoyed an activity? 
  • Does my partner seem willing to hear about my interests and activities in an open-minded, understanding way? Does he seem to realize that my interests are every bit as important to me as his interests are to him, and treat them accordingly? 
  • Does my partner ignore me when I ask him to do things? 
  • Does my partner sometimes poke fun at me in a way that he treats as joking, but I feel is genuinely hurtful? Does he do this in front of others? 
  • Does my partner automatically assume that his goals will take precedence over mine, without discussing it with me? 
  • When I have a problem, does my partner take me seriously? Does he address my problems in an understanding way, or see these problems as an intrusion on his life/free time? 
  • Have I spoken to my partner about the equality within our relationship? Do I find the thought of doing so to be difficult or uncomfortable? 
  • When I bring up concerns about our relationship, does my partner accuse me of getting too worked up or overreacting? 
  • Do we as a couple clearly devote more time and energy to my partner than myself?

These are just a few sample questions you can ask yourself to determine if equality within your relationship is a problem. Every relationship has a different dynamic, and some couples are comfortable having different amounts of control. But if the answers to the above questions bother you or just don’t feel right, you owe it to yourself to do something. Remember that your partner is not trying to hurt you, he may just not know how you feel. Most partners are willing to work on the problem with you once they are aware of it, and this is often a very fixable situation. Keep in mind that once problems begin, the relationship will become steadily more unbalanced if left unchecked, so it is important to tackle this problem as soon as you notice it.