Seeking balance between nurturing and conceding

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock | Op-Eds Editor Abrena Rowe suggests that people can take advantage of one’s nurturing nature and empathetic ways. 

If you’re anything like me you are constantly checking in on friends, even strangers, to make sure they are OK – constantly making sure that everyone else is enjoying the night out, my roommate has access to a healthy home-cooked meal or the girl I’m waiting on at the bar I work at is drinking enough water between cocktails.

I am completely OK with the fact that my identifier in my friend groups is the “mom-friend.” I’m the one whose go-to farewell when friends are heading out without me for the night is “Make sure you take some shots of water for me!”

Now, take a moment and think about how you take care of yourself. How often do you decide to go to the gym? How often do you cook yourself a meal or choose a healthy option in the caf, rather than going through a fast food drive-thru? How many times do you allow yourself to have one drink too many just because everyone else goes for another round?

The answer to those questions for me is “not nearly as often as I should.” I have spent the majority of my 21 years on this earth bending over backward to make sure everyone around me is happy and taken care of. I am naturally a nurturing person, and I’m not mad at myself for that quality. It makes me an overall likeable person whom people enjoy having in their lives.

The important factor about this well-known characteristic I possess is to not let people take advantage of me. It’s sad, but not shocking, that I have crossed paths with people who take my immense capacity of care for others for granted. By no means am I saying it’s OK people have treated me as such, but typically their actions toward me stem from an insecurity or lack of understanding of the proper give-and-take relationships require in order to exist healthily. Some people have simply never had someone genuinely care about them, and if I’m the first to do so and they take advantage of it, so be it.

Now this might cause me to modify how I care for a person, but each and every one of us deserves to be loved and cared for, so I’m not going to completely discontinue the way I care for someone who doesn’t reciprocate my care and love.

It’s only been in the past couple of years that I have realized I have to avoid conflating an imbalance of power with the natural give-and-take of involving another person in my life. Any relational concessions, especially if it’s against your desires, can be misconstrued as power over another. There’s a certain healthy amount of power exchange in any relationship. You just have to be aware and cautious about those who choose to abuse that power.

Gaining this awareness and strength allows me to better care for others in the long run. Because if you don’t care for yourself, how do you expect to care for others?

Abrena Rowe is a senior psychology major and the opinions and editorials editor for the Newswire from Cincinnati.