Breaking Free from the Overfunctioning Trap: A Journey to Relationship Balance and Self-Discovery

Precious Self
5 min readJan 7, 2024
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

“Would you like jam or peanut butter on your toast”? I shouted from the kitchen as my (then) partner played video games. His face lit from the screen glare, laughing with his online friends amidst an exciting frenzy of super-loud gunfire.

Relationships can get ‘off balance.’ Nobody’s fault; just something to be aware of. Let me share a story…

Embarrassingly clueless about relationship dynamics (and my own needs), I remember proudly doing everything. It was like he was ill, and I was taking care of him. Yet he was splendidly fine and well.

When I see Marilyn in the TV show Home and Away, it reminds me of how I used to be. Knowing what I know now, I was smothering the relationship; it removed the oxygen from the air and left a vacuum. It left me feeling exhausted, but, my gosh, there was no stopping me!

Hovering over him, making him lunch, cleaning non-stop, fetching things, and fussing. Essentially, the problem was that I thought it was my job to look after him.

I remember carrying 10kg of bottled water packs to the car; my body ached, and the heat of the sun filled my eyes with sweat. The grocery run also included free entry to the sitting-in-traffic party to get to the house 2km’s away. Cooking, grocery shopping, working full time, ordering meals at restaurants, paying the bills, fetching him (and his friends) drinks, and meeting any other requests (since I was going that way), “I will get that for you,” I’d helpfully say!

Wait what? Somehow I’d become a full-time waitress, air hostess, and concierge. aka. a doormat.

Revolving my life 100% around the other person seemed normal at the time. But I remember the undercurrent of tension and hostility. I longed to hear the words of gratitude I heard in my head and expected, but instead, to my shock, I got a running report of things I did wrong. I felt confused, and unappreciated, and a mountain of resentment was building.

For me, I had learned, seen, and received the message that women should do everything. And so I overfunctioned. I was also filling a gap because, in reality, he didn’t seem willing to do the things listed above. He refused to cook, grocery shop, etc. it was like it was above him. So, I filled the gap of things he wouldn’t do; I abandoned my needs, wants, and goals and served him entirely. He left me alone a lot. He seemed intent on being as far away as possible. (I imagine the cranky look on my face didn’t help!) I felt abandoned. Losing interest in the relationship was inevitable because I saw it as a burden. Eventually, we spent less and less time together until our relationship fell into a pile of burning ashes.

As Rori Raye, a trained relationship coach and former crisis counselor, says:

Where women are making a huge mistake today is in choosing to be the feminine energy partner, but defaulting to the masculine, action-oriented, take-charge style we’ve learned to use out in the world.

In the next relationship, I still felt like I had some ‘unfinished business’ that caused arguments and tension. So, I decided to get a mentor and gather every bit of knowledge I could about successful relationships. I experimented with doing things very differently every day. To explain, imagine a relationship as a small canoe with two sets of oars. I dropped my oars and allowed my partner to row the boat. I experimented with letting go of control and fear in every way I could. One of the missing pieces was focusing on my own life, self-nourishment, and doing things that made me happy. Reconnecting with my inner self and plugging back into my emotions and identity took a lot of daily work and techniques that I now share with others.

Now I am certainly not 100% reformed, but I’ve managed to rebalance my over-functioning with receiving help instead, like being vulnerable and admitting I have struggles and don’t want to do it all. The first time I received help, instead of saying my usual “I will do it/I’m OK,” it felt uncomfortable, but my current husband just smiles and helps me out with anything I need! Now I feel comfortable going to my partner for help all the time; he recently helped brainstorm the name of my business, Precious Self, and I absolutely love it!

Now I realise I’ve actually let someone be my partner, like truly ‘let them in’, let them guide me, in this little dance called life, trusted them, had faith, dropped my guard, and let things flow. Without doing the inner work I’ve done on myself, I’d have been stuck in this relationship pattern, potentially forever (with whoever I tried to be with). I had no idea I was a blocker to the team-work and love I truly wanted. It was scary, but now that I’m through the scary part, it’s a relief.

The journey to freedom—how did I get there? I discovered my inner boundaries and began to trust them. I practiced how to tune into my feelings and express my true wants for the first time. I learned how to manage negative thoughts and my inner critic. My way of being in a relationship is a 360-degree turnaround. I’ve changed everything—my viewpoint and my behavior.

As Rori Raye also says:

What happens to men when women Overfunction? Men become lazy complacent and vaguely resentful, and stop trying to make women happy. They sense women’s distrust in their abilities and intentions and feel criticized as a result. They opt out of masculinity, hand it over to us, and let us do it all.

The reflection of that inner work is the marriage I have now and the teamwork we do every day to co-create a beautiful life in unison. He protects me and keeps us safe, and I respect and appreciate him in a language that is gentle, soft, and calm. And more than that, there’s a reflection of my inner work in the joyful way I run my businesses, the happiness I feel in my job, and the enjoyment I get from my newfound hobbies.

And for those who are curious, my hubby and I now dance and laugh all around the grocery store — yes, we do all the mundane things of life together and make it fun.

Who knew being an air hostess 24/7 was the real turbulence in my life! These days, my hostessing is limited to feeding the cats three times a day.

One of them is getting a bit chunky, so I may need to ease off a bit!

Thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this gem of insight, clap and clap some more, comment, and subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.

PS:

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