When I first had to learn about creating healthy boundaries in my life, I recognized immediately who the takers were and why I needed to distance/protect myself.
You know at least one person who is a taker in your life, I am sure of it. These are the kind of people who always need something… attention, sympathy, comfort, drama, empathy… they come to you because they know you won’t tell them no or you won’t send them away – they know you will listen and
validate enable them. They take and take and take and take and you are left feeling beaten and exhausted. Takers drain you and they never give back.
It’s not hard to understand why you need to establish boundaries with takers in your life. When you share space with a taker, it is hard to picture your life differently. It is hard to see a situation where their needs don’t consume or control you. But man, when you manage to climb to the other side and learn how to be a different kind of “friend,” it’s amazing!
That being said,
what who I was not prepared to have to protect myself from were the givers. Not only did I have givers in my life, but I was one. Taking it personally, I refused for a long time to even entertain the idea that givers were anything but a true blessing.
Givers are always there, even when you don’t need them to be. Constantly offering help, always has something inspirational and uplifting to say, seems to have an unlimited supply of things you might need or secretly runs to the store and buys things the moment you casually mention them and acts like they had it all along and it was “extra” they’ve been wanting to get rid of … Givers mean well, I really think they do, but in the end, your friendship is no more real than with a taker.
Because they spend an immense amount of time trying to come up with things to give, ways to give… they end up morphing into the type of person they think is needed at any given moment. The kind of chameleon friend who spends so much time being who everyone else wants them to be, they lose their own identity.
Givers by no real fault of their own are dangerous this way because you begin to think it’s an authentic friendship. You feel because they are constantly giving, it’s because they are such a true friend. Realistically, though, it’s superficial at best.
When someone spends so much of their time giving and giving, they don’t ever leave space for anyone to return the favor. They are afraid to ever need help themselves. They don’t ever let their guard down and show what they are really feeling to allow the friendship to develop a balance.
I slowly began to inspect my relationships with the givers in my life and started to see the truth. It hurt because I thought all along I had some of the greatest, healthiest friendships with people… when in reality, I just felt that way because they were giving me what I needed, but I didn’t stop to realize they never accepted anything in return.
Beware the givers, but also if YOU are a giver yourself, take a moment to allow the walls to crumble. Let your guard down just a little. Accepting that you might need a little help some days does not disqualify you from still being an invaluable friend. Being honest and vulnerable nurtures growth and strengthens those bonds of everlasting friendship.
It might be hard, but try to identify those relationships that need a little help in your life. Takers are generally easy to spot and almost always easier to get rid of… but givers are hard to shake. Its ok to give them a chance to work on growing the friendship and maybe letting you into their world little by little… but be realistic, and if they aren’t allowing room for growth, you need to find the strength to step away.
Learn to establish a healthy give & take in your relationships. Honesty and openness, emotional support, encouragement, gifts, and acts of service are all examples of areas where one friend should not be doing all the work… healthy boundaries also bring balance… and balance brings peace.