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July 14, 2024

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Trust Not a Horse’s Heel nor a Dog’s Tooth – Deciphering the Meaning and Origins of the English Proverb

The English proverb “Trust not a horse’s heel nor a dog’s tooth” is a centuries-old piece of wisdom that serves…

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Love is a complex and multifaceted emotion, often accompanied by a desire to care for and protect our partners. In many relationships, women may find themselves in a role that feels akin to motherhood, where they take on the responsibility of looking after their partners. While this dynamic can be rooted in genuine care and concern, it can also be challenging and, at times, detrimental to the relationship. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why some women feel the need to mother their partners, as well as provide examples to illustrate this dynamic.

  1. Cultural and societal expectations

From an early age, societal and cultural expectations often place women in nurturing roles. These expectations can extend into romantic relationships, where women may feel an unspoken obligation to care for their partners. This can manifest in various ways, such as doing most of the housework, making important decisions, or even financially supporting the relationship.

Example: Sarah works full-time, but she also takes on the majority of household chores and childcare duties, while her partner, Mike, seems content to let her handle everything. Sarah often feels like she’s mothering Mike, as she not only provides for the family but also has to remind him about important tasks and appointments.

  1. Unequal emotional labor

Emotional labor refers to the invisible work involved in maintaining a relationship, including managing emotions, resolving conflicts, and providing emotional support. In some relationships, women may find themselves doing the lion’s share of emotional labor, which can lead to a dynamic where they feel like mothers rather than equal partners.

Example: Emily constantly listens to her partner, James, as he vents about his work stress and personal problems. While she provides him with emotional support, James rarely reciprocates. Emily feels like she’s taking care of him emotionally, which can be emotionally exhausting over time.

  1. Dependency issues

Sometimes, partners may have dependencies, whether they are emotional, financial, or even substance-related. Women who find themselves in relationships with partners who have dependencies may naturally take on a motherly role to ensure their partner’s well-being.

Example: Lisa’s partner, Mark, struggles with alcohol addiction. She constantly monitors his drinking, hides alcohol from him, and helps him through his withdrawal symptoms. In doing so, she feels like she’s mothering him, even though she’s doing it out of love and concern.

  1. Lack of responsibility and initiative

In some relationships, one partner may be less responsible or proactive, leaving the other partner to take charge of various aspects of life. This dynamic can lead to one person feeling like they have to mother the other to ensure that things run smoothly.

Example: Alex is often frustrated with his partner, Kim, because she rarely takes initiative in planning their future or managing their finances. He feels like he has to mother her by constantly reminding her of important deadlines and decisions.

  1. Past trauma or family patterns

Personal histories and family dynamics can also play a significant role in how individuals approach relationships. If a woman grew up in a family where she had to take on a motherly role due to absent or neglectful parents, she may unknowingly replicate this dynamic in her romantic relationships.

Example: Megan grew up in a household where she had to care for her younger siblings because her parents were often absent. In her relationship with Tom, she finds herself constantly checking up on him and worrying about his well-being, similar to how she cared for her siblings growing up.


While nurturing and caring for a partner can be an expression of love and concern, it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance in a relationship. Women should not feel pressured to mother their partners excessively, as this can lead to resentment and strain on the relationship. Open communication, setting boundaries, and seeking support when necessary can help couples navigate these dynamics and create more equitable, fulfilling partnerships.


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