Almost everyone would agree that relationships are a key component to a full and enjoyable life. As a result, we all do our best to establish and maintain relationships. Relationships can be tough, however, and often we end up in a broken relationship that causes more pain than joy. But we know that we can’t live without relationships, in fact the equation is pretty simple:
Better relationships = Better life
So, how can we grow in our ability to relate to others? Sometimes it all starts with asking the right questions. One of the most important questions you have to ask yourself if you want to have healthy relationships is, “Am I giving too much?”
It sounds like a ridiculous question, doesn’t it? I mean, aren’t you always supposed to give to others? Don’t people who give more have better relationships? The answer to that last question depends. Take for instance, antibiotics. We are privileged to live in a world with easy access to antibiotics. We have the ability to endure and survive illnesses that killed countless people just a hundred years ago. As good as antibiotics are however, they can still be misused. If you take antibiotics when they are not needed, they can attack beneficial bacteria in your body. It’s also possible for bacteria to build up a resistance to antibiotics which could lead to trouble down the road.
Giving in a relationship is crucial to its success. But giving too much or at the wrong time can have disastrous effects. Healthy relationships include both giving and taking. Here are just a few of the things that can happen when you give too much in a relationship:
You Lose The Enjoyment of Receiving
It’s enjoyable to have someone give your their time, affection, or even a listening ear. When you insist on always giving, you block other people’s ability to give and thereby your chance to receive good things. Many people who have been hurt by others who didn’t care well for them often use giving as a way to avoid disappointment and hurt. While it’s possible for people to let you down and not care for you, you almost guarantee relational emptiness when you refuse to do anything but give in a relationship.
You Could Be Blocking Someone Else’s Growth
Like I said in the previous point, when you give all of the time, you block other people’s ability to give. Learning to sacrifice your time and other things for the good of others is a key component of personal growth. When you always give, you could be impairing your friend, child, or co-worker's growth. Many people become angry after years of giving when they realize what an immature and selfish person they have as a friend or spouse. It’s possibly that they may have contributed to that lack of health, by never giving them an opportunity to give and grow.
You Could Be Affecting People Outside of Your Relationship
Even when you are not aware of it people are learning from your example. Giving all of the time can look good to those watching you. You may look selfless and caring, and others will want to emulate that. When that happens they will begin to reap all of the consequences of unhealthy relationships as well. Let people know that all humans need to both give and receive, not just by telling them, but by showing them.
Being a giving person is an admirable trait, but when it’s overused it can lead to relational misery. Be honest with yourself about some of the relationships you are in. Are you the only one giving? Is it possible that you are giving too much? If you are, take a deep breath, and step back a bit. Remember, a healthy balance will lead to a more healthy relationship.