My friend Angie and I were having a discussion about this subject yesterday. Like me, Angie gets annoyed with people that constantly take and take and take, and never give anything back, or even offer to give something back. Believe it or not, but there are some people out there that you will continually bend over backwards for, that will never give you a second thought. Those people are called Takers.
I have quite a few friends that have the same philosophy in life that I have and that is a very good thing. They enjoy giving back to people. They truly enjoy giving. They don’t do it because they expect anything. They don’t even expect a thank you, even though it’s nice to get one occasionally. They do it because it makes them feel good. It’s a great feeling and a very good place to be in your own life. However, I did not get here without doing a whole lot of interior work first. Trust me, I will never be finished with that project either. I am a work in progress…always.
In order to continue in a giving vein, you must allow yourself the gift of recognizing those that are Takers, and know that this is all you will ever be on the receiving end of getting back from them. They might never say thank you. They might never be grateful for anything you give them. That’s just going to be the way it is. You have to give yourself permission to tell them No. You have the right and the ability to discontinue your grace, and you don’t even have to be ugly about it. You just move on and away from them. It really is that simple, but it is one of the hardest policies to follow for anyone that is naturally a Giver.
I have finally discovered my own tipping point with Takers. I never even knew I had one until I started doing the work to create and enforce my own Personal Boundaries with people, but I do have one and I bet you have one too.
I never know when someone is taking advantage of me. Isn’t that incredible? How could anyone not know that? You’d be surprised by the number of people that really have no idea when they are being used and abused. I think the reason they don’t lock into that knowledge is because it’s not a part of who they are, so they never suspect it from someone they think is their friend. I know it’s not ever something I look for in a friendship.
I was working with someone a while back that needed constant reassurance. She would call me weekly with some personal or professional drama and always wanted to monopolize the discussion by talking about herself. She had no problem telling me how great and talented she thought was, or how lucky people were to have her in their lives or their business, but underneath I could tell she was asking for affirmation from me. So I complimented her, constantly. I built her back up, I helped her dry her tears and I nudged her forward the best I could. I really did think she was talented and worthy and was willing to sacrifice my time, my efforts and even my own money, to make sure she became famous.
Driving in the car with her one afternoon on our way to lunch she was confessing a hangover and complaining about being terribly tired. She wanted tea and sympathy and I was happily providing that for her. But as we traveled along the road there were several items on display and she started doing something that finally made me feel triggered.
She would point at the object and in a tired voice she would say “I made that.” It wasn’t excitement or pride, it was simply a declaration given in a flat voice.
“I made that.”
“I made that.”
“I made that.”
“I made that.”
It went on and on for a few miles. I let her ramble, but I knew that this was probably going to be a time that I planned my exodus from the relationship. There was no way I would continue building up someone that was obviously suffering from narcissism and delusions of grandeur.
When you stop waiting for people to compliment you by bombarding them with how great you think you are, you give up the right to be disappointed when they stop paying you compliments.
I did my best to exit the relationship with as much respect and honor as I could muster, and still suffered through a Narcissistic Smear Campaign once she realized I had cut off her Narc Supply for good.
She never said the words thank you to me once during our entire friendship, admitted to sharing horrible gossip about me before she had even met me and if you asked her, she could not even tell you one personal detail about me besides who I was married to because she never asked me about myself, not once. She didn’t even know what my actual profession is. In fact, she told someone that I should be more grateful that she allowed me to work with her and that she was doing me a favor.
One Christmas she was admiring some handmade jewelry another friend was selling as gifts. She had admired one piece in particular and I thought it would make the perfect Christmas gift, so I sent a message to my other friend and asked her to hold that piece for me. I was excited to give it to her and wrapped it up in pretty paper and sent it off in the post to her in time for the holiday.
I waited and waited for her to call me or send me a message telling me how delighted and surprised she was to get this lovely gift and I never heard a word from her. Finally I called to ask her about it. She told me that she had gotten it and unwrapped it and “It’s somewhere around here underneath a bunch of papers and stuff I was working on. I can’t find it right now, but when I do I’ll let you know.” I guess I don’t have to tell you how disappointed and hurt I was.
All of this was something that was happening throughout our friendship, and yet I stayed in it. You see, I really had no idea I was being used or abused. I thought we were friends and this is what friends do for each other.
It was a while before I paid attention to that twinge of resentment, that feeling of regret and disappointment, but when I finally gave that gut feeling the attention it deserved, I got out of an abusive situation as quickly as possible. Now when I feel just that slight twinge of resentment, I know it’s time to go. It doesn’t have to be a big deal either. It could start as a spark, but if I ignore that one spark, before I know it, it becomes a blaze. I never let it get to the Blaze Phase now. I acknowledge, take action and then extinguish it. I guess that’s what you have to look for, before it becomes a situation that can break your heart.
My friend Morine has the best attitude about Givers and Takers. It’s written in a comment on another blog post here. I’ll share that with you now.
“One night, 30 or so years ago, when I broke up with a user-putz-lame-brain boyfriend at my usual Friday night foray into a piano bar, a casual friend saw me crying and gestured to me to come sit at his table. Here’s the gist of what he said:
“There are two kinds of people in this world: Givers and Takers. Obviously, you are a Giver and your idiot boyfriend is one of the biggest Takers I’ve ever seen. So here’s the thing, and if you think it over, you’ll see the logic. Givers are drawn to Takers — they want to give of themselves because it’s their nature. It gives them joy to make others happy and they’re generous, happy people, in general.
Givers find the ideal recipient for their generosity in a Taker. It completes the equation for them. The Taker is jazzed beyond belief to hook up with a Giver. The Taker can sit back and wait for the good stuff to land in his lap, no effort required. So that is the “perfect” equation.
Except it’s not.
The PERFECT equation is for a Giver to find a Giver. Now you’re talkin’! That’s what I was so fortunate to have with my man. It’s also why I can count my friends on one hand, with fingers left over. This can apply to partners, work collegues, family, friends, acquaintances. And while I may have missed out on a good person here and there because I set the bar so high, and I may feel alone more than I’d like, I made the choices I made. I made my bed, so to speak. It’s so, so difficult to find people who aren’t after something from you. We live in a world where “what can you do for me” has become an all too common way of living. Please don’t let cynicism or bitterness creep into your persona. I like you when you’re nice. And I love you when you’re nice.”
Thank you Morine. ❤
I think I’m going to close with that thought. I am also loathe to change much about the way I continue to be open to people. I genuinely love people and make friends easily. I never want to become so cynical and so full of despair that I can’t look at a human being and see something in them that is good and lovable, but I know my own limitations now too.
How about you? Do you have someone in your life right now that never returns your generosity? Do you have a friend that asks for the moon and the stars and never says thank you? If you do, you might consider asking them why they do it. You might want to let them know how much it hurts you. You just never know where those confessions might take you, or how liberating it will feel. And you might just realize that this kind of behavior is not something you are willing to overlook anymore and it’s time to move on.
There are millions of people in the world out there just waiting to give something back to you. Go out there and find them!!