How To Tell If You’re Giving Too Much In A Relationship & How To Pull Back
If you're naturally a loving and affectionate person, giving a lot to your partner and relationship just happens. More often than not, you don't even think about it. You're thoughtful, you're accommodating, and you're always there for your partner whenever they need you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, being super giving can backfire on you when you realize that your partner isn't giving you as much in return. So what can you do when your relationship is out of balance?
According to experts, it's important to know that a "balanced relationship" never equals 50-50. As love and relationship coach, Emyrald Sinclaire, tells Bustle, "Often times one partner will give more than they receive. But on the flip side, you'll receive more than you give when you need it." There will be times when one partner needs to give more than the other. That's common.
Trying to achieve a perfectly balanced partnership is another relationship ideal you should get rid of. Instead, you should aim for having a well-balanced life that includes your relationship in it. In doing so, Jane Reardon, LA-based licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup app, tells Bustle, your relationship will be happy and healthier.
"A healthy relationship doesn’t require your attention 24/7," Reardon says. There's no score-keeping or manipulating your partner to do their fair share of work. "A truly balanced partnership deals with a great deal of compromise as well as showing the willingness to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work."
If you feel like you've been giving too much into your relationship, here are some expert-backed ways to pull yourself back.
1. Take Time Each Day To Do At Least One Thing For Yourself
Practicing self-care daily is important. This can be something big that takes hours of your time like hiking a mountain or relaxing in the tub reading a book. It can also be something as small as taking five minutes in the morning to meditate. "The important thing here is that when you make sure you are filling your own love cup each and every day, you're keeping the scales balanced and not giving too much to your relationship," Sinclaire says. "The added bonus is that when you're treating yourself with love each and every day, it's going to be reflected out to your partner and it will actually change the way they treat you (for the better)."
2. Change Your Perspective
Relationships take two people to work. You may need to change your perspective of what your relationship dynamic is and should be. To bring it as close to balanced as you can, Licensed Psychotherapist, Lisa Hutchison LMHC, tells Bustle, you may need to do some self-reflection. "Ask yourself, am I a part of the solution or a part of the problem," she says. "It takes two to tango. If someone is taking too much, you are giving too much." To bring more balance into relationships, recognize the imbalance, stop contributing and instead, give more to yourself.
3. Give Your Partner The Opportunity To Show Up More
If you're someone who puts a lot of effort into your relationship because it's just how you are, you might not be giving your partner the opportunity to do the same for you. Once you have a set flow to your relationship, it's hard to change things down the road. "As natural nurturers, it's too easy for [some] women to end up giving way too much in their relationships and end up feeling frustrated as a result," Sinclaire says. In doing so, you might end up giving a lot in hope that your partner will eventually return the favor. But that doesn't always happen. "Your partner cannot read your mind," Sinclaire says. "If you really need emotional support and someone to listen to your day without trying to 'fix it,' say so! A truly balanced partnership means you are able to communicate your needs and desires so that you get them."
4. Learn Something New
One great way to pull yourself back from giving too much is to learn something new for yourself. "You don’t have to blow a hole in your credit card to invent new ways to practice self-care," Reardon says. So take up a new hobby, take a cooking class, or download an app to learn a new language. As long as you're doing something that will take your mind and energy off your partner and your relationship, you're good.
5. Give Yourself The Space And Time To Be Alone
Asking for space in a relationship has a tendency to make people a little nervous. But it's 100 percent OK to take "alone time" when you need it. "In fact, the more time a couple has to be individuals, the stronger their relationship will be together," Sinclaire says. "This is not a Jerry Maguire 'you complete me' type of relationship. If you want a balanced partnership, it's two WHOLES coming together." In order to be whole, it's essential to allow yourself some time to be alone with yourself or whoever you want. "Nourish your individual likes and desires and you'll be amazed at how that diversity actually adds more spice to your relationship," she says.
6. Make Plans With Friends
"Usually people who are doing too much feel guilty taking time away from their partner," Dr. Caroline Madden, author and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. "But your partner isn’t you." While you might believe spending a lot of time together keeps you close, they might think you need a lot of attention. So make plans with other people, she says. Go out with friends. See your family. "View it as doing things for YOU versus pulling away because you give more than you get," Dr. Madden says. "Give advance notice and don’t be coy with who you are going out with and what you are doing."
7. Be Clear With Your Partner About What You Need From Them As You Go Along
When something about the relationship bothers you, the tendency is to brush it off or keep it inside for as long as possible. That's especially true if you're someone who doesn't like confrontation. But your partner is not a mind reader. If you don't tell them something is wrong as you go, they'll get into the habit of putting less into the relationship because you seem to be happy giving more.
This doesn't have to be one deep conversation either. All you need to do is be open about what you need each day as things come up. "If you usually cook for you and your partner, but your job is keeping you late at the office, see what you can work out regarding who cooks on those nights or if your partner is going to pick up food," licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA, tells Bustle. "Be clear about the areas you’re struggling with and what you specifically need from them."
Realizing that you've given way more to your relationship than your partner can be frustrating. But you can turn it around without making a big deal out of it. If you give yourself space, practice self-care, and communicate your needs as you go along, your relationship can be as balanced as it can be.