Giving Without Giving Yourself Up

“I think I have come to realize that you do have to work on relationships. You have to be willing to give, give, give and not always get something in return. I mean that for relationships with both men and women. The giving obviously is a reward in itself. But don’t confuse giving to a relationship with giving yourself to someone.

That’s why I knew my relationship now (my husband) would be a good relationship.  He was always asking, “Is this healthy for her? Is this healthy for me? And I’ve always felt the same way. So now it’s just organic. You’re doing it without knowing you’re doing the work.” – 40-something, married in 30s, working it!

I get a lot of reaction to the statement that relationships are work – some good (you don’t stop working at your job when you get it after all if you want to succeed) and some bad (that’s exactly why I don’t want a relationship or I want it easy / something soft to couch my falls). I think it’s the interpretation of work as hard…or easy that is tricky.  To use the work analogy, working towards a goal in your career an be challenging but that doesn’t mean it’s not rewarding. And when you get in the “flow” of challenging work…it is organic and natural.

This woman’s interpretation also means that you give without expecting something in return vs. that you are sacrificing. So often we see a continuous tit for tat in relationships. There will be times that you give more to a long term relationship and times when your partner does, It’s destructive when it becomes a score-sheet or source of resentment.

If you find yourself constantly feeling like are giving and not getting anything in return, ask your self what it is you are giving up. If it’s your values, your goals, your self-esteem (this makes me feel bad about myself, I am not comfortable doing it), address it with your partner. The biggest issue I hear about in relationships is when expectations are so different or not understood that you are both feeling constantly disappointed.

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