Relationships: Giving to Get
By Margaret Paul 24 Comments
Are you giving love to your partner for the joy of giving,
or are you giving to get love?
I received the following email on this topic, asking for my
"Hi, my name is Adam. I am living with my parents and I'm
thinking of moving out with my girlfriend Patty. But there
are some things that make me feel upset, and I don't really
know what to do. I love her but she doesn't seem to be the
person she was. At times she feels bad and upset. These
periods last for about 4 - 5 days. During these times she
seems more distant and our sex life just stops. This makes
me frustrated because for the past year I have been working
so hard to try and make her feel better when she feels bad.
I thought that it was working but now it seems nothing I do
works. I miss the old times because she kissed me randomly
all day and it made me feel so loved and wanted. She would
hold me, and tell me great things. It was like a fantasy.
Now, I'm lucky if she kisses me at least once in about 3
hours. I actually start all of the kissing. I start all of
the holding. It feels like I have to start everything.
Mainly at times it feels like she just wants me as a friend.
She doesn't make me feel loved or wanted. My feelings about
this come and go mainly around the times when she feels bad.
But these feelings also come around sometimes when she is
not feeling bad.
I just don't have a clue what to do, and I need some help."
Adam is giving to get. He wants control over getting Patty
to validate his worth and fill him up. He is fine as long as
Patty is having sex with him and kissing him a lot and
making him feel "loved and wanted." But, because Adam is not
doing anything to make himself feel loved and wanted, he is
addicted to Patty doing this. He is not giving his love to
Patty from a full place inside, a place inside filled with
love. Instead, he is empty inside and hopes that if he
"works hard" and is nice to Patty, he can have control over
getting her to fill his empty hole. As a result, Patty feels
pulled on to take responsibility for Adam's wellbeing, and
becomes upset and distant in the face of the pull. She is
getting turned off to Adam and just wants him as a friend
because his neediness is not attractive to her. When sex is
a way for Adam to get validated - rather than an expression
of his love - Patty will feel used rather than loved. when
they have sex.
Nothing will change in this relationship until Adam decides
to learn how to take responsibility for his own good
feelings rather than expect Patty to do it for him. Patty
wants him to come to her as a powerful and secure man, not
as a needy little boy needing her constant kisses to feel
okay about himself.
Adam needs to take his eyes off how Patty is treating him
and instead focus on how he is treating himself and Patty.
He needs to open to learning about what he is telling
himself and how he is treating himself that is causing his
emptiness and neediness. He needs to stop being a victim of
Patty's behavior and instead focus within on what he needs
to do for himself, for the little boy within him that wants
love and attention. He would have love to share with Patty
if he were to focus on giving himself love and attention and
on making himself happy, instead of trying to make Patty
happy in the hopes that she will make him happy. As it is,
he is just trying to get love - giving to get.
Adam is coming from a very common false belief ' that our
best feelings come from being loved and desired. The truth
is that our best feelings come from being loving to
ourselves and to others. Adam won't know this until he
decides to change his intention from trying to have control
over getting love to learning about being loving.