Super-nice girlfriend may have deeper issues

Girlfriend's devotion to helping everyone is giving her a martyr complex. She needs help.

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January 23, 2020 - 2:35 PM

Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn: I’m worried my girlfriend is developing a martyr complex. For the past couple of years, she has been increasingly overextending herself, and it’s making her miserable. She goes above and beyond at work, then volunteers for extra duties, and she routinely gives up whole evenings and entire weekends to help relatives and friends with their own problems.

All of this would be fine, except it’s stressing her out. Most of our conversations lately are her complaining about things/people in her life, how tired she is and how there isn’t enough time. Often, she breaks down crying. I’ve suggested she slow down and take care of herself first, but she never does.

She’s extremely vulnerable to guilt-tripping from friends/family. She worries they’ll get mad if she doesn’t do enough for them. I put on a brave face to support her, but I worry all the time, to the point where I can’t focus at work. I don’t want to break up with her, but now I’m becoming miserable, feeling conscripted as her pseudo-therapist. I’ve run out of things to say and do to comfort her. It’s exhausting and not how I want to live.

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