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Opposites Attract But Do They Last? Experts Say ‘Givers’ and ‘Takers’ Form ‘Oppressive,’ Failed Relationships

When it comes to relationships, there are many different types of people who forge successful, happy bonds with one another. But most relationship experts seem to agree that there are two types of people that should never be together: the “givers” and the “takers.”

The old saying tells us that opposites attract, but the real question is, “Do they last?”

Relationship experts not only believe givers and takers shouldn’t date each other but many say such relationships can be particularly destructive, especially for the giver.

The giver in a relationship is the type of person who is constantly seeking out ways to please their partner. Their partner’s happiness usually takes a higher priority than that of their own and they rarely ask for a favor or make any self-serving requests.

The taker, on the other hand, is the complete opposite.

Takers always place themselves as the top priority and have no problem demanding more from their partner, whether it’s money, time or affection. They rarely consider their partner’s needs unless there is a self-serving end goal at play.

“They usually treat people well if and when those people can help them reach their goals,” explains Dr. Emma Seppala, the Associate Director for the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, in a blog post.

Unfortunately, takers also tend to be extremely charming and charismatic, according to Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success author Adam Grant.

When a charming, but self-centered taker crosses paths with the selfless giver, there tends to be an attraction based on the taker’s urge to receive and the giver’s urge to please.

“These opposites attract each other, because they are complementary and each partner needs to develop some of the qualities of the other side,” Dr. Alison Poulsen, a relationship counselor who has been in a successful marriage for nearly three decades, wrote in a post on her own website. “If each partner becomes more one-sided and excessive in giving or taking, the relationship becomes more and more oppressive and unsatisfying.”

For this reason, Dr. Seppala believes it is nearly impossible for a giver to be in a happy long-term relationship with a taker unless that taker is willing to start making the changes necessary to become more of a giver.

Dr. Seppala points to Grant’s book as a basis for successful relationships, not just successful business, and claims that “givers are the ones who end up being most successful and happy if they are not taken advantage of.”

“A large amount of research now shows that a lifestyle comprised of kindness and service leads to greater fulfillment as well as health and happiness,” she continued in a message for those who are takers. “If you want to be happy and successful, it therefore behooves you too to become a giver.”

While it’s clear that takers have the ability to not only ruin a relationship but to also leave a giver feeling oppressed and unappreciated, relationship experts say givers still have a lot to learn as well.

“Pleasers need to learn to ask for and receive what they desire from others,” Dr. Poulsen explains. “…They also need to develop the ability to let others take care of themselves on occasion, and to make sure their giving has no sense of reciprocal obligation or neediness attached.”

So while there may be some form of initial attraction between givers and takers, the general advice from most relationship experts would be to stay away from entering what is likely to be an oppressive, failed relationship that ends with the giver feeling “completely worn out” and the taker feeling “overwhelmed and stifled” by a partner who was perhaps too eager to cater to their needs.

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