• Paul Radkowski

“Under-Functioner” & “Over-Functioner

There are many roles and dynamics people play out in relationships. One of the more common ones is called the “Under-Functioner” and “Over-Functioner”. The way this works is that the over-functioner takes on way more responsibility than the under-functioner in things like work, decision-making, finances etc. The over-functioning person often feels responsible for the other person, their needs, feelings, and behaviours while the under-functioning person does not take sufficient responsibility for themselves or their own needs, feelings and behaviours.


Which of the following are traits are most reflective of you?





What do you notice in your relationships?

  1. Do you tend to over-function or under-function in your relationships?

  2. How well is this dynamic working for you or your relationship?

  3. What’s one thing you can do differently to balance your relationship pattern?

Once you know where you fit in a relationship (romanic, working, family or friendship) you can work on regaining balance together by:
  • Clarifying your respective positions;

  • Using your positions to inform specific requests;

  • Participating in reasonable discussion;

  • Using ‘I’ statements (‘I feel…’ as opposed to ‘You are…’);

  • Avoiding using third-parties to affect change;

  • Taking responsibility for feelings and for finding alternative behaviours;

  • Making small changes and being patient; and

  • Re-stating respective positions when necessary.