Love, Self

Do You Give Too Much Or Too Little To Your Relationships?

tug of war giving and taking

We all give every day—to our partners, friends, family, neighbors, jobs and community. While it's healthy and vital to help the ones we love, many of us struggle to balance these needs with our own. This can lead to trouble: either we become too self-absorbed, or we find it hard to say "no" to others in order to have a little "me" time. As part of our Love Starts Within spotlight, we asked some of our Experts to share their advice on how to grapple with these demands from multiple angles:

If I Don't Look Out For "Me," Who Will?

What if there was no separation between "you" and "me"? There isn't.

What if every action you took somehow impacted everyone and everything else? It does.

It is time to wake up, grow up and get responsible about the things we do and say. We can no longer ignore the debris we leave behind when we live unconsciously in a "me, me, me" bubble. Like it or not, we are connected to one another throughout this journey called life. It's time to make different choices in how we engage with ourselves, others and the world.

There is a very simple formula for making this change. First, find a way each day to be of service to someone else, which is different than "helping." Helping can be tinged with a touch of ego—a sense of being better than, more capable of, or doing something for someone. These are semantics on some level, but the distinction is important.

To be of service to someone, set aside your own agenda, open your heart and ask, "What can I do for this person?" instead of, "What do I need to do for them so I feel better about me?" This will allow you to connect heart-to-heart and to give with real love and compassion. When giving in this way, you won't feel depleted because you are not giving from an agenda. 6 Unsexy Ways To Have A More Compassionate Relationship

Secondly, if you are someone who neglects yourself in favor of giving to others, you can instead choose to practice self-love to find balance. Remember, you are not being your best self if you're constantly setting aside your own needs to the point of running your time, money or energy into the ground. Take some time out of your day for you and only you.

There is an utter brilliance you experience when you balance taking care of your own needs with being of service to others. As you begin to lead your life more from this place—self-love balanced with love for the larger "we"—your light will shine through. When you light up a room with this kind of love, you will attract all the love you desire and more. 

 - Life Coach & YourTango Expert Tambre Leighn

What Does A Balanced Relationship Look Like?

I'm always trying to help my clients let go of their old, sabotaging behaviors, and find new ones that ensure they'll achieve the love they want. I believe that the healthiest and longest relationships are based on the following principles: cooperation, care, communication, collaboration, mutual understanding, respect and love.

Couples work best when they are like two trees planted side by side—neither is overshadowing the other, and both are receiving the nourishment they need from the sun, air and the mutually shared common ground. Both individuals are strong with their own independent reach, and yet they're intertwined without suffocating each other.

Connecting with your partner at this level of sharing and caring requires you, at times, to forget yourself and consider only them. However, there is a fine line between being present and of service to the relationship, and giving too much, which throws the relationship out of whack. 5 Stress-Free Ways To Balance EVERYTHING In Your Life (Yes, Really!)

For instance, it's possible that as the person who is so giving, you refuse to allow your partner to give to you in return. Denying them this opportunity is just another way for you to have control. As the uber-giver, you become so selfless that you don't take responsibility for yourself because you can use the excuse that you're "always focused on someone else." Your relationship then becomes a project, rather than two people coming together in a shared love.

True intimacy requires us to drop the barriers between us, experience vulnerability and be willing to share equally with give and take. Learning to strike that "perfect balance" between these two is a lifelong process. The first step is to recognize that this balance is needed.

 - Intuitive Counselor & YourTango Expert Colette Baron-Reid