Giving ’til it hurts

We all know the saying that it’s better to give than receive. Maybe I’m just a bitch, but let’s be real here, continually giving over and over again without getting anything back gets old real fast. I’m not talking about charity or volunteering (which you should always do purely out of the kindness of your heart), I’m talking about interpersonal relationships. In an ideal world we’d all be warm, loving appreciative people, but this is not an ideal world. Sometimes being “too kind” can make it easy for people to take advantage of you, especially if that person is someone you’re in love with. We’ve all been there at one point or another. We start off feeling on top of the world and want to do what ever we can to make our new lover happy. WeDon’t always feel like you have to do everything that everyone asks you to do give and give until it becomes common place and unappreciated. When we finally wake up one day we realize that we’ve been doing all the work and the other person has just been taking without even saying “thank you”. Of course it feels good to make some one else happy without any expectations of returned kindness, but when it becomes the standard pattern of your life it’s time to reevaluate how your behavior or choices lead you to becoming the exhausted caregiver. I’m not saying that you stop doing kind things for other people, please don’t ever stop doing that. Just don’t get caught up in draining you soul and your bank account to make someone else happy when it makes you miserable. Sometimes we do these self-defeating things because of truly good intentions and sometimes we do them because of our own insecurities and shrinking self-esteem. Giving without taking can be a subconscious way of trying to buy a person’s love. No matter who you are or why you give, never being taken care of in return can make you feel unloved, unappreciated, alone and resentful. Here’s how to avoid turning into that angry person that most of us become when we’ve been taken advantage of one too many times.

Recognizing the wrong kind of lover or friend is the first and most important step in the battle against bitterness. We all have a little silent alarm that goes off in our head when we meet someone who isn’t capable of treating us right, but sometimes we ignore this intuition because of loneliness or amazing sexual chemistry. For example you’ve been single for about a year and you meet a hottie at a party. You get to talking If they never show you that they care in any way, then it is time to get out for a while and the subject of relationships comes up. They have some disparaging comments to make about their ex that tell you that the ex was probably really a nice person who meant well but your flirting partner was too shallow to see it. You could walk away and say nice to meet you, or you could stay and take a chance. In a lonely state of mind when you are strongly attracted to this person chances are you’ll stay. Learn to trust your instincts, don’t waste your time trying to please someone who is too in love with his or herself to even think of anyone else. No matter how good you treat them they aren’t going to change into a giving, loving person or be as devoted to you as you are to them. Your love is not a magic potion that will melt their heart and make them warm. Pay attention to those red flags you see at the beginning of the relationship, don’t dismiss them because you think the person deserves a chance. If they are fucking up at the start they’ll fuck up at the end. Be patient and choosy, don’t rush into things too quickly. Save all the pampering for someone who deserves it.

The second step is learning when to say no. You should never say no to a friend or lover who calls you crying and needs to talk. Never say no to someone you care about who very rarely asks for help. Never say no to a dying relative. Other than that it’s up to you, just try to be honest with yourself about whether you really want to do it or not. Don’t always feel like you have to do everything that everyone asks you to do. Learn to decipher between the right and wrong time to compromise. Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be a selfish asshole, it just means you have to pay closer attention to when you need your time and energy more than the other person.

The final step is learning when to get out of an emotionally draining and unrewarding relationship. Try to get out the first time you see problems, before you get injured too much. Don’t go back for more. Allowing yourself to be continually hurt makes a lot of people harden. If you’ve communicated your needs clearly and honestly over and over again without seeing any response or improvement it is time to get out. If you feel used and the relationship makes you feel bad about yourself, it is time to get out. If you can’t afford the person you are dating because they demand money or presents, it is time to get out. If they never show you that they care in any way, then it is time to get out. etc. ect. etc. But do it fast before you get in too deep and increase the chance of damage. And when you do finally get out, don’t hold that one person’s behavior on their entire gender. Remember, both men and women get hurt all the time. Becoming an asshole because of it won’t do any good. Don’t stop trying to be a good person, just stop staying in the relationships that make you feel like kindness is a weakness. It isn’t, it takes a lot more balls to be vulnerable and soft than it does to be hard and defensive. Take a chance, be a nice person, but also be smart and keep your eyes open.

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is an artist and writer.
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