Being the partner of a workaholic can lead to unwanted behaviour that is potentially damaging to the relationship, all because it is natural to want to feel loved. This blog explores the emotional games can arise in such situations, and how to over come these obstacles successfully.
How to tell if you are the horse-trading type
Horse traders only give their attention or affection if they are getting what they want from the other person. Horse traders use their mood as a weapon and a reward. An example: When horse-trading types like what their partners are doing, they are loving and kind, there is a gentleness and openness. It is this energy which others seek. When their needs are not being met, the quality of energy changes dramatically – it can range from being cold and distant, sulky or downright hostile.
Horse-trading comes in many forms. Perhaps the most pernicious type of horse-trade of all is that of sex. At its best sex is the most wonderful sharing of intimate passionate love where two people come together to share their vulnerability and their strength. At its worst, it is a trading transaction. I’ll let you have sex with me if you do what I want. It becomes far more about power and far less about love.
Why does horse-trading happen?
Firstly, I must point out that it is very common. It is highly likely that both partners in a workaholic relationship engage in horse-trading. Commonly both people are hurting. The workaholic escapes into their work. Sometimes, the hurt precedes the relationship but the partner believes it is about the relationship and feels rejected and hurt as a result.
The partner wants their workaholic other half to love them enough to leave work in its place and spend time with them. Even though what they really want is unconditional love, their hurt has led them to create a relationship where they respond lovingly when their workaholic partner gives them the attention they are dying inside for. You can almost hear the unspoken words – I’ll give love to you if you give love to me – but you have to give it to me first!
This is understandable – we all want to be loved and made to feel special, but here is the problem – Workaholics are workaholics because of a need within them. It is actually very little about you, the partner.
What workaholics need
The basic needs of any person are certainty, variety, significance, love, connection, growth, and contribution. We can satisfy those needs in many different ways, but if any activity satisfies three or more of our needs at a high level it is likely to become an addiction.
Workaholics commonly get their needs met at a high level from work. Certainty and a sense of control, lots of variety, a sense of significance from their status, the feeling that they make a real difference, and a sense of connection from colleagues and clients – these are all often at a really satisfying level. Coupled with constantly learning new things that gives a sense of growth and the feeling that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves equals a highly rewarding feeling.
If when they come home they feel they are failing as a partner, a husband, wife or parent, if they have no sense of certainty or their driving needs are met less strongly they will find it difficult to give up the addiction to work.
The significance of significance
Significance is quite commonly one of workaholics most driving needs. If they get it best at work – that’s where they will spend the majority of their time and attention rather than come home and have to face a sense of being a failure. If they get a rewarding feeling for whatever they crave from work, if you don’t give them a powerful alternative at home you could have a problem which could lead to horse-trading.
Deep down what most people really want is true love
Pure love is very simple. You love the person for who they are – right now, whatever they are doing or not doing. In its simplest terms, you love them and give your love unconditionally. Many of us believe that is what we do, yet, the reality is, we love them, but we want something in return.
Now bearing in mind that if you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got, maybe it is time for a fundamental change!
Love them – unconditionally. Do things because you love them and you want to, not because of what you might get in return.
Remember that they are probably doing the best they can. Being driven is never comfortable. The results won’t be instant. But time and time again once partners stop horse-trading and start loving – from their heart, without expectation of anything in return, things begin to change. Partners find they feel better about themselves too.