What's the difference b/w helping and enabling?

Old 08-04-2010, 02:49 PM
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What's the difference b/w helping and enabling?

Ok, as some of you know I am now in a relationship with a recovering alcoholic/addict. He is about 14-15 months clean/sober.

Quite a while ago (maybe 2 months) I tried to call him on his cell phone and found out that he was out of minutes, as he was only on a pay as you go plan. When he found out that I had tried to call him he was a little upset that I couldn't get through because of the minutes. He told me that would not happen again because he was going to get on an actual plan once he got his next paycheck. And he's been talking about it ever since, but there is one reason or another why he hadn't signed up yet. I didn't bug him too much about it because it's his decision to make and to follow through on.

Well he spent Sunday night at my place and then we both had Monday off (it was a holiday here) and we did some really nice fun stuff exploring some local parks. Then i drove him home monday night. This is where he discovered he didn't have his wallet. I told him not to panic as it was likely at my place (the only place it could be) and that I would check when I got home. (It's about a 30 min drive b/w our places). Of course it was there.

He had told me that he was going to go Tuesday after work to sign up for the phone plan. I thought that was great. But I realized he would need his ID to sign up. So I offered to bring him his wallet after work and then go with him to the phone company kiosk in the mall. So that's what we did and he is now thankfully on a much more affordable phone plan than pay as you go... but my question really is, is what I did just helping him out like I would do for any of my other friends that I care about, or was it enabling him?

I am still somewhat confused about the difference... I would definitely help any of my friends out like that (bring them their wallet and drive them to the mall) but if I hadn't done that, I guess I wonder if he would actually have gone on his own? I'm not sure. I know that I shouldn't let him become dependent on me to do things for/with him, but how do I know the difference between just being nice (it's in my nature) and enabling? And since we ARE in a relationship shouldn't I be doing more for him than I would a normal friend anyway?

Sorry this is so long... and I might just be overthinking this as usual... someone please let me know if I am just trying to create problems for myself...

There is one other thing that he has been saying he would do for the past 3 or 4 weeks and he still hasn't done it. It would be so easy for me to just do it for him (as it would benefit me as well to have it done) but something is telling me not to do it and just see if/when he actually does it for himself...

What do you think?

(P.S He has confessed to me that procrastination is one of his character defects that he is trying to work on...)
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:11 PM
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Help is what I do for others who can not do it for themselves.

Enabling is what I do for others who can do it for themselves.

We all do favors for friends at times. Favors are things we do for other people that they could do for themselves, we are just being nice. I consider favors rare unexpected niceties. Sometimes, for those we have long term relationships with the favors are really big, but usually they are smaller - like returning a wallet and going to the store with someone.

However, there is a line. Favors are not all the time. Favors do not save people from themselves. Favors are not done to manage a person so that we (nor them) are more comfortable. They are not a responsibility or obligation. Doing something because you are exasperated with waiting for them to get it done is enabling, IMO. If you are a personal assistant, you are enabling

You might ask yourself if a super procrastinator is someone you want to date. I married one. He lost everything. He didn't get things done, ever. He counted on me to do most everything. He didn't keep his word. I actually think my xah would be like that alcohol or not. The alcohol just magnified it. These are things to think about - it is what dating is for. When we date, we might make a commitment to not date other people at the same time, but we are not making a commitment to live with and work around things we find incompatible. The whole point is to figure that out and move on if the compatibility is not there. Not saying it is an incompatible thing for you - just discussing in general

I won't be dating one again. It seemed OK in the beginning but it became entirely exhausting and unmanageable. My enabling created resentments on both sides. I already have four kids to keep track of - don't need another
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:01 PM
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I don't think you are overthinking your actions, OP... I think your gut instincts are talking to you.
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