Are you giving

Yourself away?

Are you giving, Healthy Living Magazine, Jane Greer, Lifestyle

Are you giving, Healthy Living Magazine, Jane Greer, Lifestyle

When Katie Holmes first married Tom Cruise it seemed like a fairy tale come true. As their relationship progressed, however, it became clearer that since Tom was already so established, and seemingly so strong-willed, she was pushed into the role of the perpetual giver. By giving so much to him, Katie started to lose herself in front of our eyes. Judging from the way she left the marriage, she eventually knew she had to get out in order to recapture her own life. So how do you know when you are giving too much to your partner?

It’s important to first understand the nature of giving. We give to our partner for three reasons. The first is it makes them feel good. When we are generous and thoughtful we are saying I love you, I’m thinking about you, I appreciate you, I care about you. In turn, the second reason is that all of that makes us feel good. It makes us happy to give to the person we love, enhancing our own self-esteem. Thirdly, and this can sometimes be the biggest reason to watch out for, when we give to our partner we please them and therefore deflect any anger or disappointment they might otherwise feel. In other words, by giving effusively we can ward off their blame and criticism, and it can become a vehicle to protect ourselves from their becoming upset with us.

Read: Ultimatum
Is more about you than about him

With this in mind, it is easy to see how someone can get caught up in their own good intentions, sometimes even losing sight of their own needs. If you stop giving, you can hit a dip and encounter withdrawal on any of those three levels. If you are no longer making your partner happy in the same way you were, you might feel tremendous guilt. That might lead to your no longer feeling good about yourself. And ultimately, your partner may hold you responsible for their distress and cause you to feel even worse about yourself.

Pleasing someone can become a means to an end, masquerading as something you are doing for yourself when, in fact, it is now something you are actually doing at your own expense.

Along the same lines, if any of this sounds familiar to you, it is likely you are involved with people who are used to receiving and might even be what I refer to as a taker. In my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, I talk about the roles of the giver and the taker. This can then become the dominant pattern in your relationship. Over the course of time you become more hard-wired to give and give. But it is really something you have learned to do over time as you have been given the short end of the stick again and again. By not asking or expecting, and by avoiding relying on anyone, you don’t risk being let down.

A giver tends to be selfless, enjoying pleasing their partner, while takers lead with being selfish, expecting to be given to and taken care of. A taker doesn’t hesitate to ask for or even demand what they want. In this scenario, the giver usually rushes to give more while the taker takes more.

One of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship is balance, a fluid give and take. If you find yourself in a relationship where all you do is give and all your partner does is get, then it might be time to make a change. The hope is to find an equilibrium where you are both giving and taking; in the best relationship, two people treat each other as they share similar goals and fate and where each person, different, contributes in a unique way. In order to do this, try to reconsider the way you deal with self-esteem. Shift it away from your generosity being the only source of self-worth to the idea that taking care of yourself has as much value as taking care of someone else. You don’t have to stop giving entirely to your partner, but try to add into the equation giving to yourself as well as happily taking from your partner. This does not make you selfish in any way. In fact, in my book I also talk about the importance of SelfNess–taking care of and considering yourself. In order to embrace this, try to cope with your guilt so it doesn’t hold you back from experiencing happiness and fulfillment in your life. In the way your partner expects you to be responsive to him or her, you have the same right to expect that.

Learn how to ask for what you need and want, and make choices that work for you, sometimes even saying no to things you would have said yes to in the past. From this all flows.

Very often when people become excessive givers, they exude a strong sense of independence–don’t worry about me… I don’t need anything.

Read: Mr. Right
Comes after self-esteem

With the foundation of finding self-esteem from sources other than just giving to your partner, you will hopefully be able to feel less remorseful about not meeting every one of their requests. Learn to take care of yourself and allow people to give to you. By saying yes to yourself, you change that negative pattern and make room to receive. Once you do that, you open the door for your partner to give to you too.

Dr Jane Greer is a relationship expert, marriage and family therapist, author, blogger and radio host. She is creator of “Shrink Wrap with Dr Jane Greer,” a media commentary on what we can learn from the trials and triumphs of celebrity relationships. Dr Greer’s live weekly radio hour Doctor on Call airs every Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. ET (11 a.m.-12 p.m. PT) at Dr Greer’s newest book, What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, is available nationwide. Connect with Dr Jane Greer on Facebook, and follow @DrJaneGreer on Twitter for her latest insights on love, relationships, sex and intimacy.
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