When it comes to relationships, being selfless and giving are usually seen as really good things. But there is a difference between being a generous partner and being an over-giver. So how do you know if you're an over-giver in your relationship? According to experts, there are a few things you should look out for.
"To determine if you are an over-giver, start by asking yourself, 'Am I an under-getter?'" Kara Laricks, Three Day Rule's LGBTQ+ matchmaker and dating expert, tells Bustle. "I often find that in relationships, over-giving, whether in time, availability, attention, sex, or gifts is a sure sign that you are not getting the time, attention, etc., that you desire in a relationship."
To be fair, some people are perfectly fine with being more giving than their partner. Over-giving is only an issue if it doesn't come from a place of genuine love and affection. "Many people will begin to over-give because they're hoping to get more love, attention, appreciation from the other person," relationship coach, Crytal Irom, tells Bustle. "There are ulterior motives to the giving. This is a problem because it can create bitterness and resentment on both sides."
So here are some things that mean you're over-giving in your relationship, according to experts.
Your Partner's Enthusiasm For All That You're Doing Is Starting To Fade
A subtle sign that indicates you may be an over-giver is a change in your partner's level of excitement for the relationship. "Providing for someone to the point of spoiling them is OK," Jeannie Assimos, eharmony’s chief of advice, tells Bustle. "But if it gets to a point where they're beginning to lack excitement, it may be time to dial it down." You may notice them pulling away or asking for more space.
Your Partner's Needs Always Come First
Sometimes relationships require sacrifices. But reguarly cancelling on your friends or dropping everything for your partner means that you're giving too much. "Making too many sacrifices (especially when it's not reciprocated) can leave you feeling inauthentic and unhappy," Adele Alligood, relationship expert for EndThrive, tells Bustle. "These things add up, and research has found that the more people suppress their own needs for their relationship, the more depressed they tend to be."
You Believe It's Your Responsibility To Keep The Relationship Together
If you believe that you're the only one who can fix problems in the relationship, Dr. Margaret Paul, PhD, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle, you're likely over-giving. You may blame yourself for everything that goes wrong or apologize for things you didn't do. You'll do whatever it takes to keep your relationship together, regardless of whether your needs are being met. This is more likely to happen if you're in a codependent relationship.
You "Like" Everything Your Partner Likes
"It's nearly impossible to have all the same likes and interests as your partner," Michelle Baxo, dating and relationship expert, tells Bustle. If you're just going along with what your partner wants, you're going to lose your voice in the relationship. That tends to happen when you're an over-giver. "Consider that your relationship to yourself is the most important one of your life," Baxo says. "Remember to 'give' to yourself as well."
You're Emotionally Exhausted
If you're constantly worrying about your partner's happiness or taking their problems on as if they're your own, you're giving too much. While it's good to be your partner's source of emotional support, Ashley Rachel, relationship wellness expert at Lovely Holistic Living, tells Bustle, this can also cause you to feel burnt out. "When all of your energy and focus is on the other person, you forget the importance of caring for yourself," she says.
You're Feeling Resentful
One of the biggest signs you may be an over-giver is a consistent feeling of resentment. Relationships aren't always going to be perfectly balanced, and that's OK. But as Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D., author and licensed clinical psychologist at The Aiki Relationship Institute, tells Bustle, if your giving is causing you to feel resentful it's a sign that you're not doing it for the right reasons. "The person who is giving is doing so with the expectation that it will result in them getting back what they need," he says. "If such a feeling goes unarticulated it's likely to get worse over time and the more they give the worse it will be."
If you're an over-giver, it's important to first figure out why. If you feel like you have to compensate for your partner's lack of effort, have a direct conversation with them. Let them know what you need.
But if you're doing it because you don't feel like you "deserve" to get your needs met, you may need to do some inner work. As Dr. Sharp says, "In such a case they need to build up their own value and satisfaction with themselves."
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a giver. If that's how you show love and it makes you happy to see your partner happy, then keep doing what you're doing. It only becomes a problem if you feel like you need to do it. In a healthy relationship, you should be getting just as much as you give.