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.

If you enjoy the multimedia experience of listening to an article, you can hear this one here:


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.


What You Need To Lose to Find Love

GMP Article “What You Need To Lose To Find Love”

Theresa Byrne says if you want love, substitute letting go for seeking.

I hesitate to write anything that starts with a title of “YOU NEED,” because I cringe at anyone telling others WHAT to do. I am not the boss of you. Nor do I want to be. I’m also not your mom. And yes, I know, my title may sound like that well-meaning friend who tells you their version of “The Way The World Is” over and over. For that I apologize.

But for this message, “What You Might Want to Think About …” and “Maybe Some Things That Are Getting In Your Way …” and “Here Are a Few Things That Hold Us Back From Finding Love In Our Lives” just wouldn’t cut it. I mean, after all, I’m writing about love. And an article about love needs to have a title that matches—or at least tries to match—the impact of the feeling.  Keep Reading →

Breaking Up Sucks: 8 Things Stand Up Guys Do

Breaking Up Sucks: 8 Things Stand Up Guys Can Do To Make it Better

There’s no easy way to break up, but I want to offer these 8 tips for doing it with grace and respect.

Breaking up is hard to do (insert any song lyric here).

This list was created in hopes of making it easier for men to be stand up guys when going through a breakup. The world is filled with stand up guys. What’s a “stand up guy”? My definition is a man who does what’s right and kind even when it may not seem the easy choice. It’s the guy who takes the path less traveled; breaking up with care. It’s not easy! We get it.

Note: Since I’m a woman, this is written from a woman’s points of view, using examples. Not all women are the same. However, I believe these points have merit for anyone (male OR female) to consider.

You want to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings so you, um, avoid it. Please don’t. That’s not what being a “stand up guy” is about. When I teach I use the background of a particular lesson or thought process, and some possible scripts to get people started in areas they’re uncomfortable. So that’s what I’m offering here. Keep Reading →