The Difference Between Giving and Manipulating


How to Tell if You're a Giver or a Manipulator

By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.

Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving again!  We hear a lot in November about being grateful – and that’s important.  But, the second part of the word is “giving.”

As singles, we bemoan the fact that we “have so much to give,” only nobody to give to. 

However, I find many times that we aren’t so interested in giving freely – we are more interested in giving to get. 

The relationship is less of an offering plate and more like an emotional vending machine.  I give A, B, and C, and I get back X, Y, and Z.  

I give my time, energy, and attention, and I get back love, security, and hope for a future.  But, when we’re giving to get, we’re not really giving…we’re manipulating.  Ouch.

If you’ve ever found yourself recounting all you’ve done for someone, you are keeping score.  If you give a gift and then get offended because the receiver didn’t write you a thank-you note, you’re not giving out of love. 

If you are behind someone’s back listing all the things you have done or given, only to be left broke, broken-hearted, and broken up, you weren’t giving out of love; you were giving to get.  That’s keeping score.  (PS – 1 Corinthians 13 specifically says, “love doesn’t keep count.”)

If you’re truly giving, you’re giving regardless of what the other person does. 

Even if they don’t give you a gift back, they don’t write a thank-you note, they don’t express their love and affection after “all you’ve done for them.” 

I’m not saying you don’t notice their behavior; maybe you’re even a little hurt.  That’s an opportunity for you to check your motives.  If your expectation is along the lines of “I’m scratching your back, so it would be nice if you would scratch mine,” communicate that to the person – they cannot read your mind (especially if the person is a male).  It’s very unloving to expect someone to develop the supernatural power of mind-reading just because you brought them chicken soup when they were sick.

In business, you give something to get something.   A retail store gives a discount to get you to spend money there.  A restaurant gives a free birthday dessert hoping you’ll come again (and that the other people in the party will order desserts, too).  Companies sponsor charities in order to get recognition.

In personal relationships, you do need a healthy give-and-take.  However, if you’re friends with or dating someone whom you feel never gives, you need to address that before you get to the list “of everything I’m doing and you’re not doing” making stage.

Personally, this is why I’m not in a dating relationship right now.  I’m at a point where I’m unwilling to give a lot.  I felt very taken advantage of in my past few relationships, and I’m just not willing to give right now.  I’m generous with my friends, family, and students, but giving in romance is a different level of vulnerability, and I am very guarded and protective of my heart these days.  It’s a quagmire: I want a relationship, but I’m unwilling to be vulnerable and to give of myself.  I’d like a dog, but I’m not willing to spend the time and money it’s going to take to have one.

Fortunately, I am able to be happy while single! I’ve learned a lot about how to have a One-Derful life over the past few years, and I'm grateful I can share that with you here.  

Meanwhile, if you’re not willing to truly give, then don’t.  That way, you don’t feel resentful of the people you are giving to.  If you’re giving, then loosen your expectations of what you’ll be getting in return.  You'll find your joy actually comes from giving rather than receiving. 

That feels pretty One-Derful.

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