When it comes to relationships, we talk a lot about how they require ‘give and take’. But do we know what that really means?

A friend recently became aware of her pattern of dating guys who do an act of generosity and then she reciprocates by doing several nice things in return. It pretty much continues like this until she gets frustrated and resentful. Eventually, the relationship becomes doomed.

Now there is nothing wrong with giving, but I think not only do men and women have very different ideas of what constitutes acts of ‘giving’ or ‘kindness’, but some of us are natural over-givers.

Over-Givers mean well, but at some point, the very act of giving, or what they perceive to be giving, becomes exhausting. They eventually become frustrated because they feel like they are in constant giving mode and not receiving anything back.

Women tend to give not just with actions or material goods, but with emotional small acts of perceived generosity. Men don’t really twig those small acts because they tend to go with bigger, more tangible actions or material goods. They often expect to get patted on the back for the next six months despite the fact that it may just be that he has remembered to do something after you’ve hassled him for ages.

Women note the act of generosity, appreciate it, but that’s it. It’s done, and there is only so long you can milk it for. We prefer lots of little things as opposed to one big gesture and it should be sustained, not sporadic.

If you don’t want to find yourself on that road to frustration because you’ve been overdoing it, find out why you feel the need to give so much and cut down the habit or at least address whether your expectations of what you should be receiving are realistic. Sometimes we over-give because of a misplaced sense of our own value and how much we rate peoples expenditure of emotions on us. We work too hard to please and piss ourselves off. And sometimes it’s just a simple case of not knowing when to say no. Ultimately we should be giving without expecting anything in return (I think they call it giving wholeheartedly) but in the real world, we are bound to get frustrated if we think that giving is a one-way street.

Also, strange as this may sound – if you’re always giving, when do they get a chance?

If you think you give but don’t receive enough, stop yourself the next time you feel yourself about to give. Imagine if you cut your giving in half and still had the same relationship, but with less work? Sit on your hands, stay quiet, do whatever you need to do, but learn not to feel that you need to validate yourself or how you perceive the relationship on how much you do. As women, we suffer with Women Who Talk Too Much, Women Who Love Too Much and Women Who Give Too Much syndromes – Gosh how exhausting!
Remember that just because someone does something nice for us, it doesn’t mean we have to knee jerk and immediately give back or reciprocate with numerous acts of giving. Let’s hypothetically play a numbers game.

If boy does ONE thing for you and you do, let’s say THREE things back, you are essentially saying that when someone does something nice for you, you have to do THREE times the number of things for you to feel that you have given back. Now imagine if he does TEN things for you over a period of time and you react with your usual flurry of giving, you will do THIRTY things for him. Things can even take on a whole new dimension if the giver of 30 actions was thinking that the least the recipient would do is match their 30! Can you see where I’m headed? Of course, you are bound to get frustrated and feel that someone’s doing an awful lot of taking. But remember, for someone to be taking a lot, someone had to be giving a lot in the first place!

When times are difficult, we do have to go above and beyond for the people we love, but in the general day to day life, keep things equal, or at least fairly level and you won’t find yourself frustrated. When it’s early days in the relationship, don’t overdo it because you establish the status quo for the relationship and your output of giving becomes the expected and the norm. If you feel you have to give, match it with what they did. But remember, it’s not all tit for tat, and sometimes we need to allow each other to do things and just let things be. Say thank you though!

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