You can't give too much and you can't give too little. You can't take too much and you can't take too little.
There was a time when it came to my relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic, I was always the “nice guy”.
I poured my heart out. I waited on them hand and foot.It was my goal to make them happy.
But let me tell you, through tough experience, I learned you shouldn’t put others happiness before your own.
I was willing to jump through hoops if they asked. I bought gifts, I gave many compliments, I did favors without hesitation.
All to be a good friend or boyfriend. I never stopped to think of myself or what I was doing to make myself happy.
I (stupidly) thought that sacrifice is the way to win people over.
SPOILER ALERT: It’s not!
And while selflessly giving may make you “likeable”, it does NOT make you respected or desirable (as a partner or even friend) at all.
I was, by the very definition, a People Pleaser. And People Pleasers never get what they want. They help others get what they want, but never get what they want themselves. They put others’ needs before their own and wind up feeling miserable.
That’s what I was doing.
This was before I developed the Lazy Mindset. It was NOT the ProcrastiN8r way at all.
There was never enough I could give and I gave everything away, including my own self dignity. I was left feeling unsatisfied and drained, the pain of working hard.
The lesson I learned was this:
Don’t give more than you take
Putting in an excessive amount of effort into a relationship or friendship with someone who doesn’t reciprocate equally will drain you mentally and emotionally (and maybe even financially)
You’ll be left just feeling “done”, like you can’t give anymore and somehow they always want more from you.
If you willy nilly agree to something they want, and they rarely, if ever agree to give you something you want (and when they do agree it’s always an uphill battle to get them to say “yes”), then there’s a relationship imbalance and you’re gonna wind up feeling completely exhausted.
You shouldn’t feel like you are pulling teeth when you request a sort of commitment or favor and they shouldn’t think so much about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?), not every single time you ask for even the simplest of favors at least. These are bad signs.
They should be willing to give and not get, on occasion.
Giving your all without them reciprocating will inevitably make them lose respect for you. They realize they wield all the power. They realize their approval is what you live and fight for.
Once a person realizes they have complete control over you and can get you to bend to the knee any time they want, it’s over!
They lose respect for you and will take advantage of you and your generosity and kindness if you left them.
I lost friends and I lost lovers because of my overly generous behavior. And one day I just had it.
I was sick of being pushed around, sick of giving more than I took, and tired, just tired of not getting what I want.
So..I said “fuck it”.
Being generous and giving was getting me no where in relationships but feeling depleted. Being the “nice guy” lead to no where but being taken advantage of.
So naturally in order to improve myself and do things differently...
I became the asshole, the guy who doesn’t commit. The guy who doesn’t do shit for people unless there’s something in it for him. The guy who cares about one person in the world: himself.
Yeah, that was me. A truly certified asshole.
It was my way or the highway. Didn’t like it? Good bye. I don’t need you.
Oh you got me a gift? Psh, of course you did. I deserve it.
Do me a favor? Good. But you should do more. C’mon now. That’s not enough.
Give me a compliment? Tell me you love me? “I know. I’m awesome that way or I love me too”
I was beyond challenging to please or dare I say impossible.
If I did do anyone anything, then there had to be some benefit in it for me. I was no charity.
I was by all definitions of the word completely and utterly selfish.
These attitudes made it easy to seduce and attract women for one night stands or fwbs and even lead to a few “falling in love” with me. It also made making friends easy, as I seemed like “the cool guy” who didn’t give a fuck about anyone.
I didn’t give a shit. I wasn’t boyfriend material. I wasn’t a best friend.
I wasn't gonna give her commitment. I like my freedom.
I wasn’t gonna spend time with her friends. I got my own friends
I wasn’t gonna give gifts. I’m not Santa Claus.
Likewise, I wasn't gonna just help out a friend unless there was something in it for me.
But then I had a few relationships (and friendships for that matter) where I actually did care about the person and actually did want something a bit more long-term. I saw a future and they were actually were a very prominent part of my life.
However, I continued to act completely uncaring, because from my experience before, showing care and giving lead to the end of the relationship. I continued to be the uncommitted selfish asshole.
I put up walls and kept them up.
And eventually, I had some of the most important people in my life leave and want nothing to do with me because they were just tired of putting in such an effort to win my care or approval.
Due to my own rigid resistance, I made it a fight to “earn” any sort of favor and that just left certain people feeling exhausted.
And no matter how much I promised to be different or offer a bit of leniency, it was “too little too late”. (And to be frank, I gave them no reason to believe I would act differently than selfish)
So of course, like any great epiphany in life, it took me the hard way to learn this:
Don’t take more than you give.
You have to be willing to say “yes” to commitments and favors without resistance or hesitation on at least an equal level the other person gives you, especially if you want any sort of long-term relationship with them
Otherwise, if you consistently tell them “No”, you’ll likely lose them. I wanna save you the pain of going through that, so learn from my dumb ass mistakes.
You should be willing and able to say No once in a while, but not to everything.
I was caught up in my own head and focused on what I could take. I was *always* concerned about the WIFM (What’s In It For Me?)
... and that caused some of my closest relationships (both romantic and friendships) to end.
See, you have to be willing to bend a little bit for those that actually matter in your life for those that give to you and show they care.
Certainly don’t keep bending ‘til you break but be a tad flexible.You want to be able to set boundaries that say “don’t fuck with me” but not be so hard pressed to pursuit said boundaries that
Giving and taking is all an act of balance.
You have to give...just enough. And you have to take...just enough.
Doing “just enough” is the way of a true ProcrastiN8r. No, more, no less. Nothing in life is excessive on Lazy Island.
You can’t be a walking charity, giving away your time, money, and emotional resources so freely.
And in the same vein, you can’t be a stone cold rigid rock, refusing to budge even for those that give so much to you.
You can’t treat everyone the same, at least not as a relationship grows and develops and the person has demonstrated their own commitment and willingness to bend.
When people are important to you, you have to show them they *matter*, just don’t go as far as worshiping them.
Give them “just enough” to feel like they matter in your eyes, but not so much they feel like a god or goddess to you.
Have some self respect and don’t pretend they’re some divine superbeing. They’re human, like you.
Remember, if you treat someone like a celebrity, they will treat you like a fan.
You are below them and they will treat you as such.
You want to have the attitude that you are on an equal level in terms of status and importance. Even if you’re not, you can at least give the impression you are with a bit of confidence.
You want to send the message:
“Hey you’re important and attractive to me and I hope you know that” without going overboard and saying“OMG you are the reason I live and I *need* you”
Now you’re not literally going to say that out loud, but you’re going to express it through your behaviors and actions.
Lean back, relax and embrace your laziness. Don’t get up from the couch for people that don’t get up for you.
You should never "need" a person. They should add to your value, not substitute it.
With that said...
There’s a fine line between being a lazy asshole and being complete douche bag too
Don’t be a complete douche bag.
Give them “just enough” that they feel like you care, but not so little that they feel like you think of yourself as a god, above anyone else, including them.
You want to be a challenge, but you don’t want to be impossible.
You can’t let people walk all over you, but if you’re too unmoving, you’ll push people away.
Be firm with your boundaries. Just don’t be so resistant to others that you end up resisting any sort of close relationship.
You may not like to get off the couch, but you can slide over a bit and make room for someone.
You want to send the message:
“Hey I’m pretty awesome and I don’t give my time or attention away easily”, without going overboard and saying “I’m better than everyone and don’t give anything to anyone”
You need the attitude that you are bad ass on your own, but that doesn’t mean you’re better than anybody.
You must have slow n’ steady progress
A lot of couples make the mistake of rushing into things -- moving in together, getting engaged, having kids, the whole nine yards, and two years later they’re sitting there wondering “Okay, now what?”
Next thing ya know they’re filing divorce papers ‘cause they just didn’t have any sort of progress happening within the relationship.
You want to take it nice and slow
A relationship, especially a romantic one, must have some sort of sense of progression. There must be leveling up at a natural pace, and even after you hit all the "commitment points", you should work on some sort of project or learn something together in order to continue to grow together and feel progress.
You can refuse to offer large commitments at first.
Here’s the key though, if this person is actually important to you and if you do in fact see a future with them, then you must agree at some point*
You must take steps toward commitment eventually.
Maybe not in the beginning, maybe not right away, but if you’ve been seeing them for at least a couple months or even years, and see them in your future, then you can give a little.
Otherwise be willing to lose them if you continue to disagree
Wait. Procrastinate. Let them suggest it. But when they do, don’t put up walls for too long.
Remember that the more commitment you give, the less freedom you have. But don’t let that fear hold you back from embracing a relationship you actually want to be a part of.
Don’t give too much too soon and don’t give too little too late.
As a procrastinator, it’s always better to wait and put off showing care or commitment. But you do have to do it “eventually” if you want this person to continue being a part of your life.
It’s your choice of course but know the risks.
On the flip side, if you give too much of your time and attention in the beginning, it's gonna come across as desperate and you'll scare them away.
Procrastinate with purpose, but don't hold out too long, unless you legitimately have no intention of building anything serious with them.
There’s this idea in society that what makes you a good person is your ability and willingness to to Sacrifice (the “S” in the D.E.S.K. trap).
No, what makes you a good person is to feel happy and fulfilled on your own and to respect others without going as far as worship them (or make them feel insignificant, on the opposite side of the spectrum).
Give just enough and take just enough.
Don’t wear yourself thin in giving to others and don’t wear others thin when they give to you.
Give thanks and take nothing for granted.
And remember offering commitment and favors to a person should come from a place of desire -- to build a strong relationship or friendship, not of need to have them or a fear of losing them.
Take it easy,
P.S. I write a new blog every week about how to handle life, relationships, and finances the lazy way to help you do things the easy way. Subscribe to the newsletter so you don't miss it!