Why You Give so Much and Get so Little in Return
You treat him like royalty, that younger guy you’ve been dating. Concerts, expensive dinners, a weekend getaway to wine country, and still he seems so distant. He gives you just enough to keep you hanging on, but he’s often withdrawn and doesn’t return your affection. Soon, this lukewarm romance fizzles out, like all the rest. “WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING!?”
Or…you’re a giver. You’d go to the edge of the earth for your friends, but still they disappoint you. You’re always there for them, why don’t they show up for you?
Buckle up, friends, because some real-talk is coming. If the previous two examples sound like you, breaking this pattern will require you to take a serious look at yourself. There are two major reasons we feel like we give too much and receive too little, if one or both applies to you, it might sting a little, but you’re on the path to a major course correction, so get excited!
Reason #1: Your unconscious motivation is to control or manipulate the other person.
Many people give, sometimes extravagantly, as a way to ensure their recipient’s dependance upon them. Maybe there’s a friend who’s become distant or the friendship isn’t working out. You want to keep him close and you know he’s down on his luck so you offer him a room rent-free in your home. Within a few weeks the atmosphere is awkward or tense. You’ve bent over backwards for him, why isn’t he repaying you in respect and clean dishes?
Or maybe there’s a super sexy younger man you’re interested in, but he just doesn’t seem to be feeling you. Perhaps he’s even turned you down already. You know that if only he gave you a chance, one great night together, you’d be able to show him how wonderful you are and it could really be the start of something special. You ask him if he’d like to come with you to the Beyonce concert — front row. He says “Yes!” You’re stoked. You’re going on a date with young Mr. Sexypants! You show up with stars in your eyes. He’s got stars in his eyes too; nobody has ever been this nice to him before! It’s a magic-filled night that ends at the very least with a strong make out sesh, if not a full-on hot AF hook up. The next day, you’re still swooning unable to believe the fantastic night you had. Days later, he’s not returning your texts and you feel used and empty. WHAT THE FUCK IS HIS PROBLEM!?
In both scenarios, you felt good about what you were giving, and you hoped that in return you would get a meaningful connection, but that isn’t likely to happen because your intention for giving was to fulfill your own needs rather than his. Your intention was self-serving and in return got a result that was an energetic match to your intention, a recipient who accepted your gift as a means to serve…himself.
In general, appropriate giving should empower the recipient. If you give with an intention that does not empower the recipient, especially if your intention contradicts the will or best interest of the recipient, you will most likely be disappointed. I remember a childhood friend who once told me she went around to all of her girlfriends two weeks before Christmas saying, “I got you the best gift for christmas! I can’t wait for you open it!” as a way to ensure that they would get her a gift as well. Do you think this manipulation yielded genuine friendship?
Reason #2: You’ve abandoned your own needs and you give endlessly to avoid feeling worthless.
Deep down you feel worthless and undeserving of having your own needs met, so instead you take care of everyone around you. You don’t feel worthy of generosity so you bombard others with generosity, often in a way that makes them feel suffocated. You check their temperature, you make sure they got enough to eat, you ask repeatedly, “Can I get you anything?” You insist on paying for lunch and if ever someone offers to return the favor you refuse. You wonder why your friends aren’t giving back the support you give them.
This kind of giving, again, will result in feeling empty and used. The energy you’re putting out is constantly reaffirming the unconscious belief “I don’t matter as much as you do. My needs don’t matter.” This kind of giving is less manipulative than the first, but it is unsatisfying nonetheless because you are using the other person as a vehicle to satisfy the only need you recognize: your need to take care of them (whether they like it or not.) You are likely the perfect candidate for codependent relationships where you give constantly to a user who sucks you dry.
This kind of giver tends to be very sensitive with a warm heart, but the cycle will continue until you are able to feel, in your bones, that you are worthy of exactly the kind of love and generosity you give so freely. Upon giving yourself more of what you desire but felt you didn’t deserve, you will open yourself up to receive more of it from others, and because you are genuinely loving, they will be happy to support you in finally meeting your own needs.
I hope this talk wasn’t too real for you. If it was, understand this: this is not about making you wrong. This is about empowering you to re-evaluate whether you are sabotaging your own happiness. Don’t stop giving. If you’re a giver, your heart is in the right place, now just be really honest with yourself and make sure you’re giving with an energy and intention that you would like to have returned to you. Don’t give in a way that values your worth less than the recipient of your giving. Don’t give in a way that disregards your recipient’s desires or disempowers him. By all means, be kind, be generous, but make sure your intention is to serve the highest good of both parties. Remember above all else, your warm and loving spirit is your greatest asset. Any gift is worthless without it.
Lucas Bane and David Devora own a West Hollywood healing practice called Embrace. To find out more, visit www.embraceheals.com or check out their Facebook: @Embraceheals. Help us reach more folks: Like, share, and comment!