At what point does ‘partner’ become ‘personal assistant’?

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A healthy relationship thrives on acknowledgment and appreciation. When we do something for our loved one, a gentle smile or a simple word of thanks make our efforts worthwhile. And we would gladly continue exchanging our efforts for the currency of appreciation. However, when does one cross the line from ‘partner’ to ‘personal assistant’? Also, what should you do if you find yourself becoming more like a personal assistant?


First of all, let us define the roles and responsibilities of both a personal assistant and a partner. According to job agencies, a personal assistant assists in daily business and personal tasks. Personal assistants support the work of managers or directors and undertake mostly administrative matters. On the other hand, a partner is someone whom you love and care for, someone with whom you have entered into a non-commercial relationship. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the commercial nature of a personal assistant and the non-commercial nature of a partner.


Even then, the line between a partner and personal assistant can become blurred. In some ways, the role of a partner overlaps with the role of a personal assistant. Not only do partners have to provide emotional support and love, they too have to provide for each other’s material well-being and satisfaction. Therefore, it is normal for one to help the other out by ironing the clothes, doing the dishes, and even buying groceries. In fact, this contributes to the relationship by providing one another with appreciation and acknowledgment – ingredients that are pivotal to a rewarding and satisfying relationship.


However, there is cause for worry when a relationship devolves into one which breeds a one-sided dependency. In this scenario, one party gives and the other receives –  a one-sided exchange which only disadvantages the giver. Yes, the giver exchanges his or her effort in return for feeling valued and appreciated. In the long run, however, this will result in an unbalanced relationship that cannot be sustained. This would also foist onto the receiver a lazy and passive attitude towards the relationship. Eventually, when one side has become weary and stops giving in, the relationship will crumble and fall apart.

If you find yourself in such a relationship, what should you do? For the giver, it is high time to re-evaluate the relationship. Sit down with your partner and discuss the matter. Begin to negotiate and define the roles and responsibilities that each one should undertake in the relationship. For the receiver, you have to understand that every relationship requires some sort of input from both parties. One hand, no matter how determined and tenacious, cannot make a clap. Hence, start doing small things for your partner. Become a contributive member to the relationship. You will in turn enjoy immense satisfaction from doing so. Ultimately, it’s far better to give than to receive.  

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