Giving Too Much in a Relationship

Feel like you're giving too much in a relationship? Learn why and what you can do.

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.

Some of Us Overextend When Trying to Feel Loved

We may overextend ourselves, giving more than we can handle.

They might even take this concept one step further by believing 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. They feel 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 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.

We May Give to Try to Get Something for Ourselves

Some people give because they want something back.

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. Someone who gives wants to feel better about themselves. If a giver merely gives and waits for a response, they set themselves up for unhappiness. Asking for what they need and desire works better.

Usually a giver believes that if they give enough they will feel the love they are missing. Givers often believe their partners will respond with gratitude and appreciation, helping the giver 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 unstated in return.

Self-Reflection and Direct Communication Can Better Help us Meet Our Needs

Clear communication, like between the couple pictured, is better for getting your needs met than giving and hoping your partner will understand and reciprocate.

Learn to understand yourself. It will help you 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.

Learn How to Communicate Your Needs to Your Partner

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to communicate more clearly, gently, and directly by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help both of you communicate more effectively and better meet one another’s needs. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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