3 Signs You’re Overgiving in Your Relationships (and how to change it)

Giving is beautiful.

Overgiving is not. 

Overgiving is simply that – giving too much.

Highly sensitive people and empaths tend to be overgivers.

So do women (both our genes and society encourage us to overgive).

This particular blog post isn’t about people who aspire to be as altruistic as Mother Teresa.

This is for anyone who suspects or realizes that their relationships are uneven in how much each person gives, kind of like a seesaw that’s stuck with one person up and one person down.

When we give too much to others, we deplete ourselves.

For our close relationships to feel good (and for us to feel good!), they need to be reciprocal; that is, our relationships are most satisfying when they’re largely balanced between giving and receiving.

 

3 ways to see if you’re overgiving

1-Before talking or seeing someone, how do you feel?

Do you feel excited?

Do you feel dread?

If you feel dread (uneasiness, nervousness, discomfort, hesitation) repeatedly with the same people – you’re likely overgiving.

Ask yourself, what’s inspiring you to keep up with people you dread seeing?

Of course, we can’t stop seeing everyone we feel hesitant interacting with (like our supervisor or a certain family member), but you can look for ways to decrease the frequency you see them and the amount of time spent with them.

 

2-After you’ve talked with someone, how do you feel?

Energetic or drained? 

If you feel drained (depleted, exhausted) repeatedly with the same people – there’s a good chance you’re overgiving.

You might be so accustomed to feeling “used up” after being with certain people, it’ll be hard to notice at first.

Once you make the commitment to increase your awareness of overgiving, you’ll start to see differences in how you feel after being with particular people.

And you’re going to be amazed (and perhaps overwhelmed with insight) at what you begin to see in yourself. 

 

3-Do you have a lot of resentments towards others?

The best definition I’ve heard of resentment is to “re-feel.”

If you’re replaying conversations in your head, wishing you’d responded differently, as well as feeling negative emotions, these are resentments.

It’s ok to replay a conversation once, maybe twice, and to think about how you’d like to respond differently in the future – this helps us grow.

But when you’re spending a ton of time having conversations in your head (or worse – arguments) with others, it’s time to look at your resentments. 

 

Another clue you have resentments – you keep score.

Does “I paid last time, she better pay this time” sound familiar?

Keeping score doesn’t always have to do with money. If you find yourself keeping score and remembering exactly who said what 10 years ago, your energy is being sapped by resentments.

 

How to Achieve More Balanced Relationships

You can learn to stop overgiving. Just know that it won’t happen overnight.

In general, it takes:

  • awareness of your overgiving behavior
  • tracing back to when and why your overgiving began
  • learning and practicing new behaviors
  • having a supportive and understanding person you can talk to about your goal of stopping overgiving

 

3 ways to reduce overgiving

1-Say “no” the next time you want to say no

No matter what the situation is…listen to that voice inside of you begging you to say no. This time, do it. 

I tell my clients who are learning to say no that starting out with white lies is fine. You’ll get to the point you won’t have to say white lies, but if it helps you in the beginning to stop overgiving – white lie away!

Eventually you’ll be saying no without white lies, excuses, or overexplaining. You’ll refine how you do it with practice.

Remember – your “no” is already sufficient.

Pay attention to your inner self telling you to stop offering so much – energy, time, money, etc. – and then follow through with doing less. 

 

2-Figure out what you’re getting from overgiving

Take some time with paper and a pen and write a list of what you get from your close relationships – the ones that are balanced and the ones where you overgive.

Then compare what you’re getting from each.

(If you find you don’t have any balanced relationships – you’re not alone if this is the case –  compare your current relationships with your idea of what a balanced relationship looks like.)

Look deeper into why you overgive in some relationships but not others (or why you overgive in all of them).

Once you shine the light on why you’re overgiving, your behavior will start to change.

When we stay in the dark, we keep doing the same things, getting the same results.

When you start to learn the why underneath your overgiving, you’ll start to see yourself and your relationships in a different, better light.

 

Here are some questions that may be helpful to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to receive what you’ve been giving? If so, how long have you been in certain relationships wanting to receive more, but it hasn’t happened yet?
  • Do you often tell people how much you’re doing (giving)? If so, what do you want to get from that?
  • Do you want to be viewed by others in a certain way? If so, what way?
  • Are you just wanting to be loved? If so, are you getting what you want?

Be profoundly honest with yourself. 

Writing is a good way to get to the root of the matter, as opposed to simply thinking about it.

Tear up the paper when you’re done, no one has to see it.

When you widen your awareness, change will follow (if that’s what you’re truly wanting).

 

3-Start saying “thank you” followed by silence.

No more “thank you, I don’t deserve this,” or “thank you, usually my hair looks awful,” or “oh no, you’re the one who does the hard work.”

When someone says something nice to you, simply say, “Thank you,” and leave it at that.

This’ll be a challenge at first if you’re used to giving without receiving, but practice is the key.

Overgivers need to learn how to receive. 

The first lesson in this is saying thank you and resisting the urge to say anything else that diminishes those words. 

 

Aim for Balance in How Much You Give and Receive

Some people say they’re proud to be overgivers…that’s fine unless you find yourself suffering in your relationships…in which case you might want to have a rethink. 

If you’re an overgiver and you want to stop – you can learn to do so.

No relationship is perfectly equal in what each partner gives, just aim for balance. Here’s where “keeping score” might benefit you when you’re increasing your awareness. Just be careful not to let keeping score lead you to resentments; let it lead you to changing your behavior.

Begin to pay close attention to what you’re feeling because your emotions will tell you if you’re overgiving.

Simply put: Giving feels good, overgiving feels bad. 

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