Giving is an essential component of a positive relationship, and those who give to others regularly often feel more positive and have higher self-esteem (Weinstein & Ryan 2010) than those who do not give. When you are generous with your time, energy, or money, you not only benefit the person to whom you are giving, but you also experience benefits yourself. One major upside to giving is that your feelings toward and connection with the recipient of your gifts are often strengthened. Giving in a relationship can often be more satisfying and rewarding than receiving because it builds intimacy and provides advantages for both the giver and the taker.
While generosity is great, in order for a relationship to be successful there needs to be a balance of giving and taking. This is because receiving a gift can have negative feelings associated with it like a feeling of obligation (Goes & Boster, 2005). When a member of the relationship gives too much without receiving, or takes too much without offering anything in return, the relationship can fall apart. Although giving and taking often will not be an even, 50-50 split between two people, it should always feel mutual, and no one should feel like the other person is taking advantage of them. This article will explore ways you can give in your relationship without sacrificing yourself, and how you can set boundaries to make sure no one takes too much in a relationship.
One of the most important ways to make sure your relationship maintains a proper balance is to communicate with your partner. Communication is essential to healthy relationships, and without it you will find your partnership will begin to suffer. Have a conversation with your partner about what healthy giving and taking looks like. Explain what you want to see from the relationship and listen when to what your partner wants. Make sure there is adequate time and opportunity for both of you to speak, and come up with strategies that address both of your needs.
If your partner communicates that he or she is feeling like they are doing the brunt share of giving in your relationship, do not get defensive. Take the time to have a productive conversation where both of you are listening to one another and truly considering what the other has to say. When a relationship feels too one-sided, it is destined to fail. Prevent this from happening by having regular conversations to express feelings and solve issues regarding giving to one another.
If your partner is not using the strategies you developed together and you are beginning to feel like you are giving too much in the relationship, set boundaries. Setting boundaries is key to having a healthy relationship, but it can be tricky. In order to set effective boundaries, it is important for you to be self-aware and communicate clearly with your partner. Take a look at yourself, and make note of your thoughts and feelings and the actions that trigger them. It is okay to have problems with different aspects of your relationship and to convey your feelings to your partner.
Unhealthy taking occurs when a giver feels overwhelmed or pained by the amount of time or energy they are sharing, or they do not receive anything in return. When the give-take balance of your relationship shifts in a way that is uncomfortable for you, present your boundary in a loving, but direct way. Telling your partner, “I love spending time with you, but I cannot stay up until 3 a.m. talking to you when I have work in the morning. I would love to dedicate time in the evening instead” is a way to reassure them that you care for them while expressing a clear boundary. If you do not set boundaries in your relationship, you will find that instead of receiving joy from giving, you will feel resentment. Set boundaries to preserve the relationship and to prevent losing your sense of self and happiness.
Diversify Your Giving
There are many different ways in which you can give to your partner. If you make sure you are giving in a variety of ways, you will not only help your partner feel loved, but you will also keep yourself from being overwhelmed. Here are some of the ways you can give in your relationship:
When you are tempted to get angry or to judge your partner, pause and give them patience and love instead. This can help you to have more productive conversations and to address conflict in a positive manner.
Give Praise and Thanks
Noticing and speaking up about little things that your partner does that you love doesn't cost you anything, but can benefit your relationship. When you see them successfully complete a challenging task or activity, give them a compliment. When they go out of their way to do something for you, thank them.
Give Time and Attention
Show up for the events that matter to your partner. Dedicate time during your day to listen to how they are feeling. This is the lifeblood of a healthy relationship. Giving time and attention can exhausting if you give too much of it, so make sure that you are setting boundaries, too.
Sometimes each person in a relationship needs a little space to make sure they are able to re energize, practice introspection, and maintain their sense of self. Do not be afraid to give your partner a space when needed. They were their own person before you, and you do not want them to feel like they are losing themselves. Do not monopolize their time and prevent them from having their own life.
For more tips on understanding yourself, setting clear boundaries, and deepening your relationships through generosity, communication, and love, visit Oakville Wellness Center online today!
Goei, R., & Boster, F. J. (2005). The roles of obligation and gratitude in explaining the effect of favors on compliance. Communication Monographs, 72(3), 284-300.
Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. (2010). When helping helps: Autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 222-244.