Givers And Takers In Relationships

In relationships, there is rarely a perfect balance between give and take. There is usually a power relationship between givers and takers. The taker gains the energy and emotional investment from the giver, who is convinced that there are no limits to love and that anything is possible. 

Even though the term may seem strange, emotional suicide is not uncommon in relationships and emotional relationships  . There are people who drive carefully, eat healthily and live an active life, while for love they would jump off a cliff without a parachute.

But not everything is possible, not even in love. We can make our partner the center of our lives, trying to be everything they need, but there are serious consequences. Givers and takers  are at the extreme ends of a spectrum, where true happiness rarely arises.

givers and takers and communication

The cycle of reciprocity as a key to well-being

Friedrich Nietzsche said that offering a gift does not give the recipient any right or obligation. We could agree with this claim. However, there are minor nuances, whether we like it or not. Gifts are exchanges that involve a certain reciprocity. Givers and takers are connected in different ways through gifts.

For example, I may give a gift to a friend, and not expect or want him to return anything to me. I offer the gift only because I want to honor the affection and support I have received from him. So reciprocity already exists between us. It is a dynamic and proactive balance where both sides win.

In fact  , we need a constant feedback loop, in which we are both givers and takers at the same time. Why? Because people are cooperative by nature. It gives our brains a sense of well-being and belonging.


reciprocity in relationships

What happens if there is no reciprocity and I become a ‘giver’?

There is an interesting article called ‘Autonomous motivation of pro-social behavior and its influence on the well-being of the helper and recipient’,  published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010. Let’s see what is said there.

  • There are people who are natural givers. in other words, giving is part of their personality and of how they understand relationship dynamics.
  • In addition, ‘giving’ (of attention, affection) promotes their self-confidence, makes them more positive and gives them energy.

However, two things can happen:

  • First, the recipients may feel pressured  because they are constantly being favored. It’s inconvenient that there is always someone making sacrifices for them.
  • Secondly, sooner or later the phenomenon of ‘uncollectible costs’ will occur. That is, the giver is no longer valued or recognized for his or her actions. They can never ‘recover’ all the time, effort and energy they have invested. Ultimately, this will feel like everything has been for nothing, and their confidence will diminish.

Givers and takers in relationships

Ana and Pablo have been together for 8 months. Ana is the ‘giver’ and will do anything for her boyfriend. She gives him a lot of attention and enjoys taking care of his needs. Pablo, on the other hand, just makes things happen. Seeing that his partner continues to give without any problems, he becomes passive and even dependent.

A relationship

This is a small example of what can happen in a relationship. Little by little we turn into givers and takers. Sometimes we even maintain a dynamic that later breeds an unhealthy relationship. It is therefore not a matter of pointing fingers, but of understanding the following:

  • It’s okay for one partner to invest more in the relationship than the other at some point. However, this should not become the norm. In addition  , both individuals should be equally committed to the relationship. It is healthy that both share approximately the same costs and benefits.
  • We long to receive.  Some people have spent so much energy as a giver that they have forgotten what it feels like to receive. The reverse is also often the case. Someone who has received attention all his life will be pleasantly surprised with the satisfaction of giving.

There is no need to obsess over a 50/50 split between givers and takers. Gains and losses in a relationship don’t have to be exactly equal. We give to people in different ways and at different times.

Most importantly, there is reciprocity that we are there for each other, and that what we give is received from our hearts in gratitude, and returned when we need it most. 

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