Do You “Give to Get”???

Are You ‘Giving to Get’ Love in Relationships?

Is this you? Are you doing kind things over and over for others in order to get love?

This subconscious (and dysfunctional) relationship tactic might go something like: “If I give you this (or do this for you) then you’ll give me love (or treat me like I’m important/worthwhile).” And it’s destined for disaster.


Giving with an expectation of getting something in return is a common game we play on ourselves and in relationships.

Reciprocity (give and take) is built on the concept of mutuality; with both people participating. But when you’re playing the “giving to get” game, it’s far from mutual. The game is born out of a feeling of lack, and it ends in emotional pain. That lack is that you might feel needy, unimportant, not “good enough,” unlovable or unworthy exactly as you are.

In a “giving to get” cycle, one person ends up doing most of the giving, the niceties and forgiving while the other person is on the receiving end of all that kindness. Whether or not they asked for it.

In your mind you may think “they ought to love me, after all I’ve done.” You may not even know you do this, you may just wonder why you’ve ended up disappointed in relationships. “After all I’ve done for you, how can you treat me this way?”

May I gently remind you: it was your choice to do all that doing, no one made you do it. But the consequences remain that you may have given all of yourself to someone who wasn’t giving the same back.


Giving out of a sense of wholeness is different than “giving to get” love; that’s when you are doing nice things because it feels good, and you expect nothing in return. It’s altruistic and kind, with no strings attached.


Giving out of a sense of wholeness is different than “giving to get” love.
Why it’s vitally important to become aware of this cycle: If you play this game in relationships it won’t end well.
You’ll feel taken for granted, unappreciated, or worse unloved. It hurts. You may convince yourself in the beginning that you’re just being kind, accommodating, cooperative and that’s ‘what good people do.’ Eventually, however, you’ll find yourself feeling drained, and you just can’t figure out the right way to be, or the right things to do to in order to make the relationship work. Once you’ve start the cycle, it’s hard to break it unless you become aware that you’re in it. You’re convinced that this is how you have to act or what you have to do to become worthy in a relationship.

What does it look like? This varies from person to person, but the theme circles around giving of yourself: time, money, effort, acts of service, attention, energy, niceties, words, etc. to get something in return. Usually we give to get love, attention or acknowledgement.

It can look like always doing favors for the people you date. The giving could be doing little or big favors, picking up groceries, getting them cards, being available 24/7, or showing them all the little ways that you thought about them during the day. They always come first and you might think that’s a good thing. You may say something to yourself that sounds altruistic like, “If my partner is happy then I’ll be happy. I don’t need much. Having them feel good or know how much I care will help me find happiness.”

It can also extend to forgiving slights; always trying to ‘be cool’ and not bring up conflicts or talk about what’s bothering you; not wanting to make a big deal of them being late or not reciprocating; letting them contact you for a date at a moment’s notice; always being ready to see them; or making it really easy to see you or get ahold of you.

It’s as if being yourself or you being you isn’t enough to be lovable, so you have to do things to get love or be lovable.
On their own, none of these things are problematic. The problem comes in when you do these things in an effort to get love.

It’s as if being yourself or you being you isn’t enough to be lovable, so you have to do things to get love/be lovable. The question isn’t what are you doing but why are you doing it?

In our book on setting healthy boundaries (on Amazon), dating coach and fellow GMP writer Sandy Weiner and I discuss this very topic.

Where does it come from? Clients have said, “I defined my worth through service to other people and until I saw what I was doing—I thought this was just how relationships worked.”

“It’s how I do a lot for people, because I thought helping them or serving them I’d find my value.”

“I thought in order to be a good person I had to help my partner constantly.”

“I never expected much back—I was trying to give to be lovable, like ‘I need you to see that I’m a good person so you know I’m worth loving.’

If you were raised in a household where you had to earn the right to be loved, or do things to be considered good and get love or acknowledgement in return, you might become someone preconditioned to “give to get.”

It can also from a conditional feeling of love as a child—you weren’t enough exactly as you are so you had to work at being loved. That same cycle of working hard to get love perpetuates into adulthood, and you can’t figure out why you never fully feel loved.


In the next article on this topic, I’ll go into 7 ways you can break the cycle of “giving to get” and start toward finding mutually beneficial relationships where your partner loves and acknowledges you without playing into the cycle.

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Collaboration is “We” vs. “Me” Energy

“Me vs. We” Energy

Collaboration is a nice idea. People working together to achieve an outcome greater than any one person could create alone. Like Utopia. And it’s become a kind of catchphrase recently. But not everyone is equipped from the factory for collaboration; even if we expect them to be. While some of us are natural born collaborators, some aren’t; and some may move too far over into the “but what does everyone else think? We must have consensus” side of the pendulum.

Healthy collaboration (based on interdependence) can be an amazing tool. But what does it really look like and how does it work?

Collaboration requires a certain type of space or environment to flourish.

Collaborative space allows for openness, for ideas to flow, and for the genius of more than one person to shine. “Me” space is limited by one person. “We” space stops being all about one shining superstar and starts being about a community; like a galaxy of stars or a universe. And when that happens, an infinite number of possibilities suddenly show up.

In a “me” space it’s all about “mine”: competition, scarcity, and “what’s mine and how can I control it” Keep Reading →

Attention People Pleasers: 6 Rules for Your Sanity

If you fall into the category of people who drive themselves nuts by trying to constantly make others happy: PLEASE read on.

(Or don’t if you just don’t want to. I depise those things telling me I MUST follow this person or read this email or I’ll die or be disappointed for the rest of my life. If you don’t want to read this, I’ll be ok either way; but these rules have helped others and may offer some insight).

To any People Pleasers in the house: you’ve got my empathy! YES, it’s great to make others happy and feel good. It brings us joy. And yes, being kind is a wonderful thing, the world needs more of it. Many of us love seeing the look of pleasure on someone else’s face and like knowing we helped to put it there.
But there are rules. Limits. Boundaries. You can’t do it all the time and it can’t be your only focus. It will wear you down, exhaust you, and eventually you can end up overwhelmed, tired, and worn out.

That’s why boundaries are so very very important; and here I called them “Rules”. They can be limits, stops, or lines you create for yourself but they’re all boundaries.

Here are some of the hard and fast rules I train people on:
Rule: Don’t please others in ways that cost you.
Rule: Make sure you have the room to ask for what you want, not just focus on what someone else wants.
Rule: Self care isn’t selfish.
Rule: Be mindful of giving to others when you don’t have enough for yourself.
Rule: Never place the value of someone else’s good opinion or attention above your own.
Rule: If you’re afraid to speak your mind, pay attention. (P.S. There’s a way to do it gracefully).

If you are a reforming (or reformed) People Pleaser, know that you can change. You can learn how to take care of yourself AND also do kind things for others, when it works for you. The energy is different. NO longer will you give when you’re not filled up; you’ll be able to recognize when it’s time for you to give yourself a Time-Out and recharge BEFORE you say “Yes, I’ll do that.” Just to make someone else happy. There are no medals for martyrs due to exhaustion.

You got this. You can do it. I know you can.


America needs a time out!


Anger and fear are running rampant through our country right now, and it’s not the same country it was two weeks ago.

There are citizens that have lived here for generations who are suddenly afraid of being kicked out, harassed, or hurt. And that’s just at the supermarket. Uber drivers are calling their relatives as they pick up a new fare and staying on the phone with them, just to say, “yeah, I’m here and I’m OK.” How would you feel if that was your son, or daughter, or brother, or sister?

How would you feel if all of a sudden you had a target on your back and it was somehow OK for people you don’t know to make disparaging comments to you? And that means people in both political parties! Calling each other names is never good, labeling others as being one way because of who they vote for has never been a way to create change, it only creates more separation. More anger. More heat.

We all want our country to work. We all want to feel safe. We are all human beings, there’s no “us”and there’s no “them”.

I know in my heart that acting out in hate isn’t how most of us think or act; we know bullying isn’t OK, and frightening or ganging up on people is never OK and especially not because of their color, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or choice of political party. Rationally we know this. But suddenly, these little insular acts of racism, or sexism, or even bullying have started to become prevalent. As is the rioting which just causes more anger.

America, take a time-out.

Anger is never a good emotion to act from, not when you’re in the throes of it. Not when it’s searing through your body. Whether your candidate won, and you’re defending yourself OR your candidate lost and you’ve decided to “ACT OUT”;  it’s not rational thought driving this reaction. It’s fear, anger, or even something worse like a desire to “get back” at someone. Or to “show them”. Show them what exactly? How tough and strong and mean you can be?

What do we do to a child when they throw a temper tantrum? When they bully other kids? We point out that their behavior isn’t OK and give them a time out. If we want to create changes, then we do it from within. We don’t get to act out and hurt others, and we don’t start treating people as if they were less than human. Ever. It’s. Not. OK.

Look to those who have created lasting differences on the planet, Mother Teresa never held a rally and Ghandi didn’t riot. They didn’t label others, they just did their work and created change.

Breathe. If you get angry or triggered, breathe. Don’t react. Find a way to respond rationally.