The pattern of growth in relationships will always be one of “give and take.” A one-sided relationship is not healthy, on both sides. Consider these examples: a person of interest whom you’ve been dating for years has expressed the desire to marry but whenever the subject comes up, he (she) never takes a step of serious commitment. A friend says she wants to be a part of your life but you are always the one initiating. Your spouse avoids emotional intimacy and instead invests most of their time into career and outside interests. A one-sided relationship lacks the balance of “give and take” and will be a hindrance to personal growth.
Giving Too Much
Bottom line here is that one person seems to be doing the bulk of the giving, the initiating, and the investing. Yes we want to manifest unconditional love, but it doesn’t mean that we enable an unhealthy relationship. Dying to self does NOT mean that we never express our needs. Plus, it’s not only unhealthy for the one giving too much, but also for the taker. That person is not going to get healthy until the dysfunctional patterns are broken. Key point here: It takes two people to keep the one-sided relationship going. Let’s look at three types of givers.
The Rescuer: also known as the “fixer.” Usually there are roots to this pattern in the family of origin. E.G. Experiencing their parents’ broken marriage. Death, loss, grief in the family. The Pleaser: they love to be loved and will do anything to get that feeling of love. They are loyal to a fault. So focused on not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, they don’t express what they need and would rather be the one who ends up hurt than to hurt anyone else. The Insecure: Low sense of value and self-worth. Shame based. We attract the type of relationships we think we deserve.
Giving Too Little
In the one-sided relationship the one who gives too little maintains a distance which insulates them from substantial connection. They prefer to connect only on a surface level. Three types of “takers”: The Cynic: There are two reasons why I don’t trust people. 1. I don’t know them. 2. I know them. Basically, people can’t be trusted. Just to balance this out, it is good to be cautious in relationships. If you don’t really know someone, they are guilty until proven innocent. But cynics aren’t just cautions, they are driven by fear. They fear being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. Somewhere along the way, they experienced all of these things from people that should have been trustworthy. Thus the cynic feels safer in a one-sided relationship.
The Wounded: Sometimes people who give too little are struggling with a gaping wound in their heart, that perhaps they aren’t fully aware of. The old saying “hurt people hurt people” indicates that when you are wounded it’s likely that you will tend to wound others as well.The Empty: drained, nothing in the tank to give. Not only do we need to continue in our healing but we also need to get filled again and again. Empty people give too little because they don’t feel like they have enough to give.
Dating = Troubleshooting Season
Navigating the potential dangers of a one-sided relationship, actually begins in our family of origin. The ideal is to have wise parents to oversee this process. Then there is the challenging season of dating. I love this advice from Debra Fileta in her book Love in Every Season. What you see in dating, you will always see in marriage multiplied by a hundred…Dating is not the time to establish a lifelong commitment; it is the time to be on the lookout for healthy (or unhealthy) traits in our pursuit of finding a good match for our lives.
Whether single of married, I can say this for sure: The pruning of relationships will always be fruitful. Certainly not easy, but well worth the end result. May the Lord give us wisdom and discernment to balance out the scales of “give and take” in our relationships.