Let’s All Stop Enabling People

And calling it love.

Shannon Leigh


Enabling has been a theme at the forefront of my life lately, and I’ve been catching myself in it left right and center. I’ve come to realize that it’s not a form of loyalty, and it’s certainly not a healthy way to love someone, either. But it used to feel far too comfortable for me; that is — until it didn’t.

The problem is that enabling can quickly become so ingrained and habitual that it becomes difficult to see it for what it really is. And through enabling, we tend to inadvertently compound the problem, not solve it. We end up feeling resentful and exploited, without actually fixing the original issue.

Just because I can help someone, doesn’t mean that I should. And often, help looks like something different (or opposite) than what the person is asking for.

Want to read this story later? Save it in Journal.

So with that in mind, let’s dive a little deeper into what enabling really is.

What is enabling?

Enabling is doing something for someone else, or tolerating someone else’s behavior, in a way that reinforces unhealthy and self-destructive patterns in the other person. And enabling is often at the expense of that person learning from their mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions.

The act of enabling prevents the onset of uncomfortable consequences that result from said actions, consequences with the sole purpose of teaching someone exactly why they may want to change their behavior.

You may be dealing with someone who leans on you to make decisions for them or expects you to take care of them. Perhaps the person is struggling with addiction or chronically unable to support themselves financially. Or maybe someone is displaying belittling and abusive behavior towards you or your children.

Whether it be with a partner, child, parent or friend; enabling is done with the best intentions, but often breeds the worst results. Enabling is innately disrespectful to both you and the other person; you’re being taken advantage of, and you’re treating them as though they can’t take responsibility for their own lives.

Are you an enabler?



Shannon Leigh

I’m basically a house cat with a penchant for introspection.