The Relationship Dynamic of “Over-watering, Under-watering”

With plants, if you water too much or too little, the results are similar- the plant will get stressed, and if nothing changes, will die. People who over-water their plants tend to not trust that the plant will make it without their constant tending. They just keep pouring water on, and the roots can’t breathe, and the plant eventually suffocates. People who under-water tend to trust that the plant will magically feed itself. They go about their business, ignoring the thirsty plant, and then one day, it dries up.
In relationships, often an “over-waterer” will get together with an “under-waterer” and a similar dynamic happens. The over-waterer will keep track of everything, will constantly tend to the relationship with a hyper-vigilance on everything that goes on with their partner. The under-waterer will rely on the over-waterer to know what is going on in the relationship- not really actively contributing much until things start looking really bad, relying on their partner to tell them that things need to change.
Both partners in this dynamic get something out of it. The over-waterer never has to sit back and see what might happen if their partner were to come forward, so they are never vulnerable in that sense. Of course, they never get to be on the receiving end in the relationship. The under-waterer never has to come forward, so they never have to take a risk and expose themselves emotionally. The downside is that they don’t really get to express their feelings in the relationship.
Eventually, one person becomes uncomfortable with the dynamic and then everything gets shaken up. One person is going to have to learn to do less “watering” and sit with the restless, prickly feelings that come up with not being able to act. The other person is going to have to learn to water more, and take the risk of being exposed, and feel all the vulnerable feelings that come with the exposure. The pay-off in the long run is a much healthier and solid relationship that both partners can count on.

Other articles:

Disengaging from the Silent Treatment and Engaging with Each Other: An Experiment for You

Dealing with the Silent Treatment

30 Day Emotional Challenge

Communicating about Taking Space in a Relationship- An Alternative to the Silent Treatment

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