Givers and Takers

A friend on Facebook recently posted on Facebook, and it brought together something my wife and I have been mulling. Are there just “Givers” and “Takers?” The gist of the post was a couple of health issues that kept her bed-bound for several months at a time and, except for her mom, no one visited. Her message to folks, commenting on the current lockdown, was to get over this intense, but relatively short coronavirus stay at home.

Via Facebook, I knew of one time, a surgery, and while responding with encouragement, I was not in Houston to even contemplate a visit. We are not close, but it still make me sad that no friends visited her. What led to this blog is, I am somewhat sure she is a giver having helped an elderly relative for many years. And I relate, having been a giver most of my life; I would now classify myself as a recovering giver.

Barb and I disagree a bit as she thinks most people are relatively balanced on the giver/taker continuum. I do know a few that seem balanced, but most folks I know are predominantly one or the other, and, I think, takers outweigh givers. Maybe because I have lived with so many takers and glad to love a fellow giver, I see the world more polarized in this area.

We all know takers, and while no one is always 100% a giver or taker, I have found that most takers only give when expedient for themselves. Many are narcissistic, but not all narcissists are flagrant takers. Where ever they are on the “taker spectrum,” I do not find takers ever having any doubts or concerns about being a taker; when deemed necessary to give, I see them as self-centered givers. While there have to be some, I have not come across any recovering takers.

I find that givers do reluctantly take at times, but only when they think it absolutely necessary. I know; been there, done that. So it is not surprising to me that, if my friend is a giver, she would not reached out during her recovery time to request something for herself. My wife is a “pretty much” a recovered giver; we jokingly call our tendencies to fall back into being a full giver, the “Chip and Dale” syndrome. After you, oh no, no, no, after you! Oh, no, no, no, I insist, after you! Etcetera!

Neither of us has lived with a predominant giver before and, while certainly not making us uneasy, it was very different! As I have said before, different is not either good or bad, but it can be somewhat disconcerting! We checked each other out in the way we were most comfortable. Being from Human Resources, she had me take the Myers-Briggs before getting serious!

Being a psychologist, I made us do a giver exercise; one of us talks for three minutes, saying all the wonderful things we like about the other and then switch. The one listening cannot say anything, just receive, and then it switches back for as many rounds as needed before running out of accolades for the other. Pure hell for a giver to sit and accept all those compliments without responding!

I initially theorized that givers do not like receiving because we think that will make us a taker, an anathema to our existence. But, as I have found out, that is incorrect. In the end, we givers cannot unconditionally give what we do not choose to sometimes receive. I call this healthy selfishness or healthy taking. So maybe we givers are not scared to be takers, we are just uncomfortable receiving!

Like Barb says, maybe some naturally fall in the middle, neither a taker or a giver. Are they simultaneously both naturally, or are there many more recovering givers/takers than I am aware? I do not know, but I will have to be more observant to find more normally balanced takers/givers!

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