When to stop giving?

May 31, 2022

stop-givingAh, this is such an interesting question. When to stop giving.

So, of course, healthy friendships  / relationships are not tit for tat. We do not “keep score.”

But, it is important to acknowledge that a strong friendship is reciprocal in some way. It’s taken for granted that friends are there for each other. When one is weak, the other props them up. If a friend needs something, we not only try to help but we don’t wait for them to ask for that help. We go ahead and reach out.

We initiate that.

Maybe it’s more accurate to say that relationships / friendships are symbiotic. Mutually beneficial.

They’ll never be 100% equal, and really, who is even measuring?


When a relationship is extremely imbalanced, problems arise.

If one person is doing all the giving and the other all the taking, it is no longer mutually beneficial.

And while I am not a believer in tit for tat or I’ll do this but you have to do that in equal measure, it is ALWAYS crystal clear when a relationship is imbalanced.

The absence of participation by one party is very noticeable. Voids are just that way: obvious.

And then, resentments grow. We ask ourselves why the other party is so happy to take but so reluctant to give?

Yes, why, indeed?

When that question comes up, it’s time to stop giving.

In the best of cases, the other friend “catches up.” And we would hope that would happen.

But if not, extricating yourself from the one-sided giving tree is the right thing to do.

By all means, remain friends. Just stop giving.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you. handle it?

13 comments on “When to stop giving?
  1. This has happened a lot, I always felt that the more I continued to give, the more I showed, by example, what I hoped for in return. With age, I’ve come to reevaluate whether a relationship is worth the continued giving.

  2. Diane says:

    My friend once said, “When I look in a mirror and see footprints on my face, I know it’s time to withdraw from a friendship.” I watched my son go through this. He was financially supporting a couple. The three of them had rented a house together and the other two refused to contribute in any form. He paid all the rent and utilities while they laid around (I’m not exaggerating!) and smoked pot. Finally, he had to get out of the city. Which he did. And the shriek that went up?! The good news? He’s doing well. I don’t know about them. They must have found someone else to fleece.

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    One dealbreaker is when a person feels free to inflict every bad mood they have, when they have it. Not that they can’t be open and honest if something’s going on, but a perpetually grumpy, irritable attitude gets tiring.

  4. Lauren says:

    I needed to read this now. I am having too many thoughts about a friendship that has become very one sided and I am starting to resent it. And she doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Enough is enough. I am planning to extricate myself. This is the push I needed.

    • I’ve been through it, too.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yes. I had a friend growing up, the only girl in my area, and I think I put up with her behavior because she was the only other girl. This is the type of person who would be sweet to me around her birthday so I would be sure to attend and bring a present but would be mad at me and not talking to me so she didn’t have to attend mine. As we got older, I let that friendship go and by high school, we didn’t have anything to do with each other. Queue, 30-year reunion and we picked up the friendship again until I realized that she was the same at 50 as she was at 10. It was all about her and never about anyone else until there was something she could get from that other person.

  5. I think it depends. Sometimes there is a financial imbalance so the person on the low end of it has to find other ways to give back that are meaningful but still affordable.

  6. Meryl says:

    You have to evaluate how much you value the relationship, and how much you have to deal with negatively. Is the friendship worth saving? Sometimes it is better to let go and move on. If the other person values the contact, maybe they will re-evaluate their behavior and be a better friend in the future.

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