Enabling involves helping another person avoid the consequences of their negative behaviors such as addiction, abuse or gambling. Enablers inadvertently support their partners by helping the negative behaviors to continue. This can create a crumbling, unhealthy relationship.
This is a source of much controversy among survivors of abuse. It is often difficult for survivors of the abuse to fully accept their role in the abuse. In no way, does this mean the abuse is your fault, this is simply a call for you to recognize the pattern and find the help you need to break the cycle today. You are worth more than this and statistics show that your abuser cannot be fixed.
Watch out for these signs that you may be your partner’s enabler:
- You fix their mistakes. A person who is an addict, gambler, abuser, or involved in other negative situations and behaviors often gets support from their partner. Fixing your partner’s mistakes is a key sign that you’re enabling them.
- Do you clean up their messes, make up excuses for them, and help them with every little task?
- Enablers will often give money to an addict or cover up their issues. They may also help them with work or lie for them. Enablers go out of their way to fix their partner’s issues and take over the responsibility.
- You do everything to avoid conflict. Enablers fear conflict and arguments, so they do their best to avoid them. These are all signs of enabling:
- Do you try to stop conflict by ignoring issues?
- Are you afraid of arguments with your partner and scared to bring up their abuse, addiction, gambling, or other issues?
- Do you stop arguments and walk away because of your fear? Do you focus on keeping the peace at all times?
- You give an endless number of chances. Although enablers frequently realize they shouldn’t do it, they still offer an endless number of chances to their partners.
- Do you give your partner the opportunity to return over and over again despite the failure to live up to promises? Do you believe that giving them one more chance will make a difference?
- You minimize the situation. In many cases, enablers try to minimize the situation and make it seem less significant.
- Do you play down what is really happening with your partner?
- Do you make up countless excuses for their behavior and think it’ll go away on its own?
- Do you hide what is happening from your family and friends?
- You feel responsible for taking care of your partner and you believe if you love them enough that they can change. Even though you know that their negative behavior is dangerous and risky, you find joy in being able to take care of them. You like that they need you and depend on you.
- Enablers often treat their partners as if they are children who aren’t capable of living without them. They make all of the decisions for them and cover up for them. They also use an attitude of superiority around them.
- In many cases, the support is also monetary. Since addicts and gamblers frequently struggle to keep their jobs or spend their money too quickly, enablers are often stuck paying all of the bills. On the other hand, they often enjoy being the breadwinners and doling out the money.
Enabling is a harmful technique that hurts relationships and can destroy the very fabric of who you are. Are you so busy protecting your partner that you allow them to continue an addiction or abuse or other issue? There may be a multitude of reasons why you stay, but you don’t have to.
Enabling your partner’s behaviors can keep you spinning in a state of despair. Deciding that you will no longer enable them to treat you this way will give your heart hope and provide a spark to get you out of the relationship and to freedom.
There is help available for you. Take steps today to get help you need, before it’s too late!