There’s a lot of talk about emotional labor in romantic relationships and friendships these days. Wikipedia defines emotional labor in terms of the workplace: “Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and superiors.”
The concept came about when women began to push back against the expectation of doing most of the emotional labor in the workplace. It caught on rapidly and was applied to non-work relationships. If you’re the one in your group of friends who initiates all the activities and coordinates everyone, you’re doing the emotional labor for your group. If you’re the one in a marriage who buys gifts and sends cards to all the relatives on both sides, you’re doing the bulk of that emotional labor in your marriage. Those are broad-brush examples, and emotional labor can extend to things like dealing with a loved one's addiction, or it can be as simple as choosing a gift for someone, or researching a joint purchase.