Sure, here is a summary of a psychoeducation lesson about strategies to overcome the relationship dynamic of the over functioning partner versus the under functioning partner:
What is overfunctioning and underfunctioning in relationships?
Overfunctioning and underfunctioning are terms used to describe two different patterns of relating in relationships. Overfunctioning partners take on too much responsibility for the relationship, while underfunctioning partners take on too little responsibility. This can create a dynamic where the overfunctioning partner is always “carrying the weight” of the relationship, while the underfunctioning partner is always relying on the overfunctioning partner.
What are the signs of overfunctioning and underfunctioning in relationships?
- Taking on too much responsibility for the relationship. Making decisions for the other person. Trying to control the other person’s behavior. Feeling resentful and angry.
- Avoiding responsibility in the relationship. Expecting the other person to take care of you. Feeling helpless, inadequate, dependent, guilt and shame.
What are the risks of overfunctioning and underfunctioning in relationships?
- Resentment: Overfunctioning partners can become resentful of the underfunctioning partner for not pulling their weight. Underfunctioning partners can become resentful of the overfunctioning partner for being controlling and demanding.
- Communication problems: Overfunctioning and underfunctioning partners often have difficulty communicating with each other. The overfunctioning partner may feel like they have to walk on eggshells around the underfunctioning partner, and the underfunctioning partner may feel like they can’t express their needs to the overfunctioning partner.
- Loss of intimacy: Overfunctioning and underfunctioning can create a dynamic where the partners are not able to be truly intimate with each other. The overfunctioning partner may feel like they have to take care of the underfunctioning partner, and the underfunctioning partner may feel like they can’t be themselves around the overfunctioning partner.
How to overcome overfunctioning and underfunctioning in relationships?
- Knowledge: Learn as much about ADHD and executive dysfunction as you can, both partners. Knowledge can lead to acceptance, understanding, and patience.
- Communication: Overfunctioning and underfunctioning partners need to learn how to communicate with each other in a healthy way. This means being able to express their needs and feelings without judgment or criticism.
- Negotiation: Overfunctioning and underfunctioning partners need to learn how to negotiate with each other about responsibilities in the relationship. This means being willing to compromise and give each other some slack.
- Self-care: Overfunctioning and underfunctioning partners need to learn how to take care of themselves. This means setting boundaries, saying no, and taking time for themselves.
- Professional help: If overfunctioning and underfunctioning are causing significant problems in the relationship, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist can help the partners to understand the dynamic and develop strategies for change.
- Better processes: Create better processes and systems, even (especially) the ones that don’t naturally fall into place. Faith comes from good processes, not from good intentions. Processes are more sustainable and more convincing for a partner.
- Good Effort: Break the self-fulfilling prophecies by both partners giving their best effort. Treatment and good processes mean little without good effort. Partner will likely appreciate good effort, especially if results fall short. Work as a team together fighting the problems not each other. Where and how can the partner step in? And not? Positive attending—look for successes, not just failures and acknowledge both partners
Overfunctioning and underfunctioning can be a challenging dynamic to overcome in relationships. However, it is possible to change the dynamic with communication, negotiation, self-care, and professional help. If you are struggling with overfunctioning or underfunctioning in your relationship, there is hope. With effort and commitment, you can create a more balanced and healthy relationship.