Have you ever had a friend/partner/family member ask you, ‘what’s wrong?’ and you reply, ‘nothing’. ‘You can’t fool me,’ they say, ‘I know when something’s up’. So you have a think about it…
Now let’s face it, if you think long enough you will find something wrong in your life: The weather has been awful, I haven’t got enough money, the cat has a tummy bug, and so on. There will be something that matches the criteria of wrong.
So you come up with something on your list to give your friend to fit into the concerned and caring look they have on their face. You might then start to think, maybe they’re right, something is wrong, and you really start to dig around in your bottom draw of demons, fears and anxiety.
You were, however, perfectly fine, before they started digging.
There are many reasons someone will dig around into your darker emotions. One is that they really care about you. However, help is also the sunny side of control. There is often a dependant relationship that is born out of the victim and the rescuer. You can’t save someone unless they need saving and sometimes a person will throw you on the emotional rocks, just to climb down and be the hero and save you. Sometimes you can get so confused by what is real, you believe that you fell, when really you were pushed.
It’s wonderful to have someone listen and pay full attention to our troubles, but when we didn’t really have a problem in the first place and a friend takes out our innards with a tooth pick, it really can leave us feeling a bit broken.
Personally, I have played both these parts. I have been the person who has not stopped at the ‘I am fine’ stage of my personal inquiry into their wellbeing. Why? Because it creates relationship insurance: if you need me you won’t leave me.Of course, nothing creates relationship insurance and on behalf of a women listening to a man, often the opposite happens. A man never asks for help and advice unless he is really stuck. As a woman, if you offer it, you are insinuating that the man is weak and can’t do it on his own. A man wants a relationship with a woman who adores him (don’t we all?) not a woman who thinks he’s weak. For female-to-female friendships, it creates bonding. When a man listens to a woman, it’s almost addictive to the woman, it gives her a sense of fullness. However when he keeps picking at her insecurities, it is an act of dominant control.
The best way we can ever help someone, is to remind them how amazing they are, all the amazing things they have done in their life, and reaffirm that we trust them to make everything OK. That way we keep reminding them of the skills they have to follow the future they want, without having to fall back for help.