The Attraction Doctor

How persuasion research can help you get a date

Make Them Love You by Taking (Not Giving)

Dating advice often says to give lavish gifts and do favors to win love. But, does giving really work or is taking more persuasive? Find out! Read More

Awesome!

I've always found this to be true albeit a little selfish. The less i give in a relationship, the more my partner seems obsessed with pleasing me and when i try to give equally to match what i receive, i generally get what i deem a negative response; that feeling of being taken for granted.
Now i give 2 for every 10 i receive, it seems to work just fine. Giving less of my time and affection keeps my partners on their toes. And i thought it was all in my head!

The concept is brilliantly true. But the conclusion is gross.

For a while I was a nice guy smothering my lady with attention and privileges. It's true, in time she would get sick of me. And it's true, I LOVED it. The feeling of chasing someone takes me out of reality into a fantasy world joy. I disagree that this is because of 'investment'. I think it's simply because of dating value. If I am giving more then I'm lowering my value. She is the prize, I am a burden.
But repaying every favor with another favor is such a turn off. Such a transactional relationship isn't even appropriate in a non romantic friendship.
I think the best relationship will have phases I'll chase her for a while so I can have the fun. Then I'll suddenly turn cold and act bored, and suddenly she will fall head over heals in love with me again. Animals play this game simply by taking turns chasing each other. Equality never really happens in love. Maybe in a very practical, passionless marriage. But usually if a couple is striving for equality, both partners end up feeling unappreciated and betrayed for their own reasons. Love is not a business deal. Love is all about surrender. Love is all about worship. A great lover is one who has the capacity to surrender and worship, and also is able to seduce and entice another into surrendering and worshipping him/her.

Lisa: Don't you ever get bored of having the upperhand? Do you ever dream of someone that would completely sweep you off your feet and bring you to your knees in unconditional surrender?

Great story

As a single woman, author for lifestyle books for women and a marriage & therapist, (intern), I appreciate the practical, tangible approach to this article. It was a hard lesson I've had to learn myself and now guide women in the INITIAL dating process - to let a man GIVE to me, and not feel immediately as though I should reciprocate.

Rarely do I like to separate us by our gender. We are all human after all, and therefore, all want the same fundamental things from life - love, respect, appreciation, honesty, care, etc. However, based on my research of heterosexual couples- and my own life - we often manifest it differently based on our gender. I am generalizing of course, and men suffer from this plight as well. But in my opinion:

Women - learn to allow men give to you, particularly in the initial stages of dating! Embrace these gifts, without feeling guilt or obligation. But DO feel and show gratitude and appreciation. A simple smile, maybe a kiss and hug and an unequivocal THANK YOU will do. You shouldn't EXPECT them, but you should APPRECIATE them, if they are gifts that you want/need and come without an expectation in return. This giving-receiving with the expression of gratitude feeds him to invest in you more as Jeremy says. And when the time is right, you can give back. And when you move more into an exclusive relationship, the giving-receiving can become more balanced.

Graciously allowing him to give to you in the initial stages of dating - and appreciating his efforts - without feeling guilt or the need to give in return shows you know you are WORTH receiving. And knowing and feeling your worth is one of the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your man.

Good Advice for Men Too :)

Jennifer - I understand your perspective. I have worked with many women who are "giving" individuals. They often worry so much about the needs of their partners that they forget to allow their partners to invest back in them. But, as a "giving" man myself, I too learned this lesson the hard way...and I know many "giving" men who gave too freely initially, only to find women uninterested and un-invested afterwards as well.

So, while I believe this is indeed good advice for women, I also think that men need it equally. In fact, I believe it should be particularly followed by any "giving" person who has the tendency to invest too much, too quickly. Such a personality is not more likely to be male, female, straight, gay, etc. It is useful for anyone, at any time in a relationship to re-stabilize the balance of investment, emotion, and worth. When any partner begins to feel worth less and has "devalued" himself/herself by giving too much, he/she should look to receive to build up his/her perception of worth. After all, neither women nor men have a monopoly on getting devalued, mistreated, or screwed over in relationships. So, "balancing" techniques should be encouraged for all.

Given that, your overall advice is excellent. I would just prefer it written as follows:

"For all "givers" who invest quickly and heavily in a partner - learn to allow your partner give to you, particularly in the initial stages of dating! Embrace these gifts, without feeling guilt or obligation. But DO feel and show gratitude and appreciation. A simple smile, maybe a kiss and hug and an unequivocal THANK YOU will do. You shouldn't EXPECT them, but you should APPRECIATE them, if they are gifts that you want/need and come without an expectation in return. This giving-receiving with the expression of gratitude feeds your partner to invest in you more as Jeremy says. And when the time is right, you can give back. And when you move more into an exclusive relationship, the giving-receiving can become more balanced.

Graciously allowing him or her to give to you in the initial stages of dating - and appreciating your partner's efforts - without feeling guilt or the need to give in return shows you know you are WORTH receiving. And knowing and feeling your worth is one of the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your partner."

Thanks again for the contribution. I look forward to more :)

Wish I had known this a year ago

Wow, I am one of those 'giving' women. He was also a 'giving' man but the problem is, I began to outdo him in the 'giving'. That's how we broke up, amongst other things. Thank you Jeremy for your blog, which I have just discovered today!
Never too late, I say. Onwards and upwards. God bless you.

Mind-blowing

Wow, I wish I had known about the phenomenon of "sunk costs", ("a greater tendency to commit to an endeavor after a prior investment of time, money, or effort") when I first started dating, many many years ago.

Although, I'm not sure that it would have made any difference. Not without some serious therapy to build up my self-esteem and ingrained beliefs about my own "worthlessness".

Sure there are "giving men" out there, but generally it is women who are brought up to be the givers, the nurturers, the people pleasers, in our society. A demanding woman is labeled "a bitch", whereas, a demanding man is seen as assertive and strong.

I wish I had learned long ago, that giving and giving and giving to my object of affection, will not result in him loving me. Partly because you cannot "make" someone love you, and partly because of the exact opposite effect that "giving" has on people.

In my experience, the men in my life, heartily continued to take my gift of sex, friendship, cooking, and love without feeling any obligation to give it back.

But again, knowing that this happens might help me in the future, however, the hardest part is eradicating the belief, as well as, the habit, of giving unconditionally to the one you want and/or love.

need help taking/ extinguishng his excessive taking habit

I just need to figure out how to flip the partner's taking habit. We've been together 2 years, and he proposed early, and then dragged his feet. I've been guilty of doing too much, but I'm no doormat. I just need a better technique - less talking, no negotiating, more action.

He's fairly insecure and needs attention. He tends to use drama to "win" or flip a situation or argument. But there is a cool person in there, under that crap. I know he knows better. He does relent, if artfully persuaded.

He has moved from smoking, substance and alcohol abuse to non-smoking, sober living, but it's relatively recent (2 months) and he's stopped going to meetings (reneging on his agreement.).
I alternately pushed or helped him to quit these things.

He's also moved from unemployed to working (at my ultimatum, but I also coached him how to do it), paying bills consistently, and paying me back for supporting him for over a year. I've meanwhile scaled my own job back to attend school to improve my job skills (video editing).

Right now he's listening to a set of NLP-related motivational CD's, so I'm wondering how I might use some of those catch phrases in a tag & reward system, since they're fresh in his mind & he values them - he's hoping they lead to greater success.

I love your stuff. I've read a lot of your other articles - I'm looking for specifics.

I'm the strongest woman he's been with in a long time - he has a long history of choosing/dating women with low self esteem. Also, we've known each other since high school, so we have an unusual level of social intimacy. We are 53, are active, in shape, etc.

Thank you very much for your time and feedback :)

Sorry, I wrote my last

Sorry, I wrote my last comment based on the last article of yours that linked to this before I read the whole thing. This one isn't as bad as the other ones. But there really is a lack of naturalness and childlike spontaneity in your approach to relationships. I guess your articles are good for people who don't naturally know how to do things. I've never had any problems with being mistreated or with having bad relationships and either have the people I've dated.

Different Strokes

Thank you for this more civilized comment. I appreciate thoughtful dialogue more than simple lashing out.

My approach is indeed more intellectual and tailored to people who may have a more difficult time with relationships. I'm glad that you have had a great deal of success with relationships and you have been able to do so quite easily and spontaneously. However, that is not often the experience of many other people.

Given that, perhaps you simply do not find the value in my writing that many others do. That happens. I just ask that you do not disparage it in the future. After all, just because you know calculus and can do it "spontaneously", does not mean other people should be shamed for needing to learn algebra. We all must walk before we can run. Good luck with your own running...

Giver wants to take

This article is exactly what I needed to read right now. I have been in a relationship for a year now. My partner has migaine headaches often, and I end up being sympathetic and helping him with little things and cooking when he gets them. I also do him numerous favors- including traveling to his place 9 times out of 20, largely because he is closer to the events we share. So, I end up spending more time and money travelling. I don't really need anything. What can I ask for? It doesn't seem reasonable for him to spend time at my place, cause there's not much going on here.

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Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D., is a doctor of social and personality psychology, with a focus on influence, persuasion, and dating.

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