Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Giving Too Much in a Relationship

Sometimes with couples there is an imbalance.  One person may feel drained because he or she does everything they can think of to make the relationship work.  They give everything to their partner and to the relationship.  They are under the impression that if they continue to give, if they give more than any other person ever could, if they do everything imaginable; they will save the relationship.
They might even take this concept one step further; they believe that if the relationship fails it’s because they did not do enough.
It’s heartbreaking to see people suffering in this situation.  These are good people who are sad, overwhelmed and afraid their relationship is ending and it’s their fault because they haven’t found a way to prevent it.  They push themselves beyond their limits to do more, look for different angles, create something else; all in the name of preserving the relationship in order to feel loved by the other.
The unfortunate part of this scenario is that the person who gives everything to the other believes that if the partner just returned their love they would become whole.  I believe this is a fantasy.  The giver believes all they need is love.  The sad truth is that no amount of love can fill the void or need that exists within the giver.
People give to feel better.  People give because that’s how they’ve been trained to experience acceptance, admiration and love.  People give so they will feel appreciated, respected and cared for.  Giving is good, but giving can’t be shelled out in exchange for a payoff.  If the giver is waiting for a response to feel better about his self, the giver may be setting himself up for unhappiness unless he asks for what he needs and desires.
Usually a giver believes that if they give enough they will feel the love they are missing.  Givers often believe their partner will respond with gratitude and appreciation and the giver will feel safe and accepted.  Usually this is unconscious and unspoken, yet expected.
If couples want to work through this predicament, they must begin to understand their own wants and desires.  If the giver can realize she wants her partner to love her in return, she might be able to speak this request, and ask for what she desires from her partner.  The partner may have been oblivious to the giver’s needs because those wants and desires have not been put into words.
It’s important to give in a relationship.  It’s a wonderful thing to give to your partner.  It’s self-sacrifice to give at your own expense and expect something in return that has never been stated.
Learn to understand yourself.  In doing so you can begin to become aware of your desires, and you may begin to understand just how much giving you do for your partner to get those desires answered.  Become conscious of what you contribute.  If it becomes too much, stop.  Don’t do any more.  Become clear on what is missing from your relationship. Maybe you feel empty and unloved after giving so much of yourself. When you realize what’s missing you may be able to ask your partner for what you would like.  Maybe you would like your partner to acknowledge how much you do for them. Maybe you would like your partner to say thank you and tell you he appreciates you. This is the beginning, the beginning of becoming true to yourself and asking for what you want.  This effort may ultimately bring you what you may really crave, a truthful relationship where both of you feel loved.
~Linda Nusbaum

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