Giving in the Wrong Direction

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In a recent group interaction two of my divorced female clients were wondering why they can’t seem to maintain intimate relationships with men. I commented that the answer to their dilemma was in the room, meaning that group members know each other well enough to provide a consensus of useful feedback regarding how people function in relationships.

This comment caused a bit of uneasiness as one male member indicated he didn’t think he could make any comments about what might contribute to the relationship failure of another member. I indicated that I was not asking for him or anyone else to make judgments. I was just asking for member’s impressions based on what has been observed.

With a little encouragement he then commented that he thought the two women in question are overly giving. “You both give so much and so quickly, I think you set an unrealistic expectation, especially with self centered men. You allow them to think that the relationship will be exclusively on their terms. Then when you get tired of doing all the giving you start to feel unloved and the man in question doesn’t understand your disappointment. You give men the impression from the beginning that they won’t have to do much to satisfy you, and then you both resent the lack of interest on their part down the road. Hey there just being themselves, it’s you who projected the false image”

This frank, candid feedback immediately enlivened the group as genuine conversation often does. So much so that in today’s follow up group, a week later, other members asked the same question.”What do you know about me that might interfere with sustaining intimacy?”Now that people have begun to relate honestly, with tactful assertion, there is much less inhibition about being straightforward. Even when perceptions are not necessarily complimentary, members realize that the motivation behind comments is to help not hurt. Truthful interchanges lift the spirit and promote emotional growth.

There is a giant difference between giving and being overly pleasing to win over the love and acceptance of another. One is a genuine act of kindness; the other is an attempt to protect a fragile sense of self from feeling rejected. Don’t ever sacrifice your integrity with the false hope of increasing esteem and winning love, it’s a false notion that can cause much unnecessary pain.

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Arthur Ciaramicoli PhD

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John A Mollenhauer, DrCiaramicoli. DrCiaramicoli said: Giving in the Wrong Direction http://bit.ly/cktXXP [...]

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