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Why Giving Too Much Kills Relationships

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If you are in a relationship in which you are constantly taking and never giving anything in return…

I’m an expert at killing—plants, that is. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to keep my plants alive. They call it having a black thumb and I have officially self-diagnosed myself as having one. I’m not sure how I ended up with a black thumb, because my mother is a plant expert. Her thumb is greener than all thumbs. She has plants in her house that are probably older than I am.

What ends up happening every time is that I forget to water them. Life is full of other things I need to do, and somehow, those little plants get neglected and ignored. And then they die. Like I said, I’m an expert at killing plants.

Eventually, my husband John came up with a brilliant plan. He did some research and found out that there’s a type of plant that doesn’t actually need much water. It is made to be neglected. It’s called a succulent. John bought me three beautiful succulents to put on our kitchen table.

I loved those succulents. And truth be told, I kept them alive for far longer than I expected. But a few weeks into it, my black thumb kicked into full gear. I started forgetting whether or not I had watered them for the week. Did I water them on Monday? Or was that last Monday? Hmmm. I’m not sure. I can’t remember. Oh well, I’ll just water them to be on the safe side. And so I would water them, even though I could not remember if it was the first or the second time that week. Eventually, I found out that there must have been a few too many “second times,” because my poor succulents’ roots got so moist they rotted. And then, my succulents died. All three of them. If you walk into my kitchen today, you’ll find another large beautiful bowl of succulents. Except when you get close enough, you’ll realize that they’re plastic succulents. Because apparently, that’s about all I can handle. Plants require three things to live: sunlight, oxygen, and water. Too little, and they can’t grow. But too much, and they will die.

THE GIVE-AND-TAKE OF GROWTH

 Like plants, relationships require a pattern of give-and-take in order for them to grow. If you are in a relationship in which you are constantly taking and never giving anything in return, your relationship will eventually stop growing. On the converse, if you are in a relationship in which you are doing all the giving and getting nothing in return, your relationship will soon die. This type of pattern cannot be maintained in nature or in relationships. Healthy relationships have to be made up of just the right amount of giving and taking. Spring is an important season in the four seasons of a relationship, because it is the time to assess the pattern of give-and-take in your closest relationships.

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Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season. She's also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter or book a session with her today!