Ask Dr. Tracy

How Much To Give And When

When we fall in love, the natural urge is to throw ourselves into the relationship, heart and soul. Unfortunately, as I explained in "Are You Giving Too Much Too Soon?" that will suffocate a budding relationship, just like loving a plant to death by over-watering it. The reason for this perplexing and unfair state of affairs is revealed in "Why People Love".

You must fight the urge to give too much too soon in the early stages relationship, even if it "feels right." Instead, have patience, give selectively, and let your love blossom naturally. How much giving is just enough? I can't tell you how much water is right for your plant, but I can give you some safe guidelines for giving in a relationship.

In the same categories as we discussed in "Are You Giving Too Much Too Soon?", here's the right way to give:

Giving Romance And Love

"I love you" is a very special thing to say to someone. While a little romantic billing and cooing is part of courtship, go slow. Save your love goodies and dole them out like the treasures they are. You'll get a lot more in return.

Relationships, like many other things, either get better or worse. They rarely stay the same. Start yours on a low romantic note. Begin as a friend, then build slowly.

Giving Commitment

If you were starting a new business and you had only one client, would you let that client know he was the only one? The answer is obvious. Of course not. You'd want to seem busy and in demand.

Unless you have discussed your relationship and arrived at a mutual agreement to be monogamous, never tell someone that he or she is the only one in your life. Why would you just volunteer to someone that they're the only one? They may not even be available for that honor.

If he or she asks, "Are you seeing anyone else?" Just say, "Oh, have friends I do things with. I'm sure you do, too."

Giving Gifts

Put off giving gifts as long as possible. Show you care in other ways. Give her an elaborate massage, or make dinner for her, or sew his missing button, or feed his dog when he's out of town. Help your lover with their kids, their relatives, their problems. But don't give expensive gifts.

If you feel you must give a gift, make it something with little monetary value. Don't try to impress him or her with how much you've spent. Instead, show how creative you can be without spending a lot.

Giving Information

Tell about yourself a little at a time. Don't be an open book, and don't brag. If the other person hears about some achievement of yours from someone else and not from you, it will give you a very intriguing quality and greatly increase their interest in you. And whatever you tell about prior relationships, make sure you don't come across sounding like a perpetual victim.

When To Give Your All

When you have both made a mutual commitment to each other, then you can be almost totally giving.

Even then, always keep a tiny percentage of yourself, just for you, a secret place that only you know about, a place to savor and retreat to, to protect and nurture. That inner essence of you will remain mysterious and alluring to your mate -- and if you ever lose your mate through death or divorce, it will sustain you.

Final Word For Over-givers

If you suspect that giving too much has played a role in your prior relationship problems, I urge you to read the other articles in my Library which cover different aspects of over-giving. Because this is the most common and most damaging relationship error you can make, I've made GIVING TOO MUCH TOO SOON a Library keyword; click on it and all these articles will be listed for you.

You may also have perceived the unanswered question in all of this... "OK, if I give too much too soon, I look needy or desperate. That's easy to understand. It's the converse that's a mystery -- if I hold back, the other person is attracted -- why?" If that's what you're wondering, you're approaching the nucleus of the atom of "Why People Love". Read that article and you'll find your answer.

Related Keywords: Giving Too Much, Dating Strategies, Love Strategies, Commitment

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