How Too Much Generosity Weakens You and Your Relationship

conflict avoidance

“Generosity” has so many positive connotations it is hard to imagine the term as an action which may damage either the giver or receiver of someone’s generosity.

When unending generosity starts to emotionally or materially deplete the giver, it is time for a new look at the underlying motivators to give.

“I’d do anything for him/her, even if this means giving away my last bite of food”.

While this degree of self-sacrifice is praiseworthy for surviving extreme conditions like death camps, natural disasters, or hostage takeovers, ordinary living conditions merit more ordinary measures of kindness to our partner.

Among ordinary life conditions, giving until depleted, is depleting, unfair, unnecessary and eventually unwanted by the receiver.

Unexamined generosity may serve as a mask by the giver of their own fear of being rejected or abandoned.

If you were often criticized, unrecognized, ridiculed, shamed, misunderstood, or felt inconsistent reactions to your childhood ways of being kindhearted, then this pattern of early suffering may strongly drive your current generosity toward another.

In a somewhat positive light, the motivation is a hopeful bargain the receiver will deliver to you the kindness similar to the one you give now, and which you didn’t receive sufficiently during your growing up years.

Unexamined generosity also sets up a false right to demand reciprocity.

“Look how much I’ve done for you!”

The drive which may have started as an abundant effort to show love, may change into a demand for the giver’s wishes to be fulfilled by the receiver, regardless of the receiver’s own wishes.

With enough intermittent happiness between two partners, combined with guilt, genuine love, mutual desire for a relationship, willingness to excuse dissonant emotions, and time, it is possible the disappointed demand expands to feeling entitled to manipulate the other as a way to wrest what is considered owed.

Now that I gave all my heart, bank account, cupboard to you, realize survival is now my central concern, assumed you’d always satisfy me in exchange for my effort, and watch as you develop independence of me, I’m hurt, angry, insecure, and feel entitled to any action which gives me power over you.

By this point, the will to love has turned into self-assigned right to control another.

Know Your Reason for Giving
Natural generosity, love, thankfulness, are motivators which connect genuine care to another.

We all have natural limits.
As long as you don’t override your own natural impulse to give, and give honestly of yourself, this will reach the other.

Then both you and your partner will feel the joy of true generosity!

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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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