Couple doing the dishes in an article on give and take by couples counselor Lisa Rabinowitz.

What To Do When You’re Tired Of Giving & Getting Nothing In Return

Your partner and friends always call you for help and know they can count on you. You love helping and giving to others. But sometimes there’s a point when you have given and given and given more, and you may not know what to do if you have pushed past your limit – when you’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return.

How To Know If You Are Giving Too Much To Others

When you feel resentment, anger or frustration toward the person or the situation, then you know that you have given too much.

When your internal conversation sounds like, “Why does my partner keep asking me to help and never help me?” or “I give so much and they never give to me,” then you know you need to slow down and reflect on the dynamics between the two of you.

If you feel like you are supporting, helping and giving to your partner and not taking care of yourself, then it’s time to take care of you. You cannot give all of your energy and time to your partner and not have any reserves for yourself.

If you want to make them feel happy, but you don’t know what makes you happy, then you may be in a one-sided relationship.

What Are The Signs Of A One-Sided Relationship?

In a one-sided relationship, you may feel exhausted and frustrated by how much you are supporting and taking care of your partner compared to how little you are receiving in return.

You may feel tired of giving when it’s just one person putting in effort to make the relationship to work. All relationships are a partnership, and you both need to reach out to each other to be successful.

In one-sided relationships, you can also experience feelings of anger or find yourself crying a lot because your partner’s insistence that they are always right leaves you constantly apologizing.

Healthy Relationships Are About Give and Take

Balance and reciprocity are key components of a healthy romantic relationship. You should not tally the number of times you give to your partner because give and take isn’t a 50/50 split. Each situation is different and you need to be flexible to the needs of your relationship and willing to adjust to the circumstances. However, you should be aware to maintain some type of balance because resentment and anger can occur when partners feel overburdened or underappreciated.

Emotional openness is a true gift of giving and receiving. A partner who shares their fears, hopes, and dreams can create a sense of giving to their partner. Being emotionally open with your partner provides you with an opportunity to share your inner essence, and by receiving the openness you can listen and validate your partner. As the receiver, provide a space to listen without judgment for your partner.

Recognizing If Your Give & Take Imbalance Is A One-Time Thing Or A Real Issue

Visualize the ‘give and take’ as a dance, where partners gracefully move together, and occasionally step on each other’s toes. Notice whether the imbalance is occasional or repetitive to better understand your dance. By learning how to work together and keep in step with each other, you will feel more connected and supported by your partner.

Most couples take turns giving and taking, and sometimes, one partner is faced with a challenge where one partner has to take the lead in the dance. When it’s a temporary imbalance then it’s easier to bring empathy and understanding to your partner. The temporary imbalance can even strengthen the relationship because one partner feels and experiences how the other partner has his/her back.

If you find an imbalance, then you need to notice if it’s due to external factors, such as a serious illness or having a newborn, or chronic unfairness and an unequal relationship. Through open dialogue you will rediscover the dance of give and take.

How To Stop Giving Too Much To Others

When you’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return, you are ready to learn how to stop giving too much to others.

Just say no! Some people are uncomfortable saying no to others, so if that sounds like you, you might need to take time to learn this skill – how to set boundaries, be assertive and say no. Giving to others is a beautiful attribute, but it is also necessary to know where to stop giving and start caring for yourself or when to ask for something in return.

Sometimes, you may have difficulty saying no because you are a people pleaser and don’t want the other person to dislike you. In this case, you may need to understand and learn how damaging it can be for you to work constantly to please people and worry more about other people than yourself.

If you tried sharing your feelings, but nothing has changed and you are still giving too much, then you will need to have an open and honest conversation with your partner. In a one sided relationship, your feelings of giving and getting nothing in return can be and are valid. You can discuss your expectations and beliefs about taking care of each other in a relationship; usually these beliefs originate from how you grew up and your family role models for giving and taking.

Secure and healthy relationships are fair, balanced and a give and take, not just a take.

Dr. Tatkin, founder of PACT, found that couples who have a fair, mutual and balanced relationship will be more securely attached and build a stronger connection. When you’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return, you could try to explore your visions of a secure relationship.

Are You In A Relationship With No Give And Take?

Should you call it quits!? When you’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return, you may need to call it quits. You deserve to be cared for and supported by your partner and your relationship can not be a one way street.

Another option is to contact me to set up a free zoom consultation to learn how I can help you not have a one-sided relationship with couples counseling or couples retreats/intensives.

It can be difficult to know what to do when you’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return.  However, when you learn the signs of giving too much and of one-sided relationships, you can decide whether or not you want to continue down that path. Also, you can start to discuss your expectations in the relationship and the conversations may shift the direction of your relationship.

Give & Take Relationship FAQs

What does it mean to resent someone because you’ve given too much of yourself to them?

Excessive self-giving leads to resentment because you are consistently giving for the benefit of your partner. You may equate your worth to self-sacrificing which is ultimately detrimental to your well-being. Usually you may be left with the feeling of emptiness and loneliness when you assume your partner would appreciate and value you.

You may want to explore how and why excessively giving became tied with feelings of  being loved and cared for. Some partners believe unless they give 110% all the time, then they are not worthy of being loved in return.

After understanding your desires and needs, you can heal the resentment and establish healthier forms of giving. Resentment dissipates when a more balanced perspective is developed in your partnership.

What does it mean when someone calls you a people-pleaser?

You may be called a people pleaser when you are trying to make someone else happy and negating your needs and wishes. When you place others in front of yourself then you may be considered a people pleaser too.

Sometimes children are placed in the role of people pleaser in their family because they don’t want their parent’s to be disappointed or upset with them. Also, it may have developed to keep the peace in your home and not cause conflict.

How to set boundaries when you need to say “no”?

Begin by identifying your limits and priorities, taking into consideration your mental, physical and emotional health.  When you decide to discuss your boundaries, be assertive and clear about your needs, values and wants and you do not need to over-explain or apologize for setting boundaries.

Saying “no ” is not selfish, but an important step in self care. Instead of accepting unnecessary responsibilities, you can ask for help or delegate. You may be used to doing everything (because you know it will get done the right way), but feeling taken advantage of, exhausted or resentful is not worth saying “yes”.

Setting boundaries is a first step but maintaining those boundaries are essential too. You might feel tempted to fold under pressure from others, but you will create a healthier relationship with others and foster balance in your life. The power of “no” provides an opportunity to voice your thoughts and opinions and can create more happiness in your life.

What are relationship boundaries?

In a healthy relationship, boundaries foster mutual respect, honesty and open communication about needs, values, expectations and personal limitations. Boundaries are guidelines to create trust and safety within the relationship.

Each partner should share his/her relationship boundaries to provide clarity and understand about how you view the relationship and the vision for it. Without relationship boundaries, you can miscommunicate your beliefs and values and lack agreements about your relationship.

If you find yourself disagreeing or in conflict with your partner, expressing yourself calmly and listening to your partner with respect and empathy reinforces your healthy boundaries.

You should reflect and revisit your boundaries to determine if they need to shift or change to accommodate your relationship. Healthy boundaries contribute to feeling valued and understood.

If I can help you with your marriage and the crisis you feel you’re in now, please reach out to me today.

Updated: 1/23/24


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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