[This post was originally written on October 1, 2016.]
If you know me at all, you know that I am very observant and I like to think. A lot. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. You may also know that I’m not really a people person, but I take great pleasure in observing people from afar. I can confidently say I have never met a truly boring person because I believe we all have those little quirks and tendencies that make us each uniquely us.
It may also come as no surprise to you that I’ve created my own theories, and expounded upon old ones, about the people I observe. The concept I’m going to discuss in this post is surely nothing new, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and I’ve shared it with a few of my friends and family. So I thought I’d try to hash it out some more here.
I think that most of humanity broadly falls into one of two categories: the takers and the givers. Of course, there will be some variation, and there is certainly a spectrum, but I think that we all will identify more strongly with one of these categories. Obviously, I don’t think that one of these types is better than the other because they will both have strengths the other does not and vice versa. My goal here is to help each of these types understand the other and to show them how to create more successful and fulfilling relationships with other people.
The Takers. These are the people who go into a relationship (romantic, platonic, business, etc.) aiming to get something out of it, be it advice, love, affirmation, acknowledgement, whatever they are seeking. This doesn’t include the people searching for physical or material fulfillment, although the emotional and material needs often go hand in hand. I would also call them the “emotional dumpers” or “over-sharers.” They could spend a whole relationship sharing their feelings, their pains, their triumphs, their heartbreaks with the other person without offering anything in return. Takers also have the capability of being sympathetic but often on a surface level. They will create a sense of sameness and relatability in order to fulfill a need.
The Givers. These are the people who go into a relationship looking to fulfill a need. They do this willingly, and they often create their self-worth around listening and devoting time to their friends, partners, and coworkers. Just like the takers, they do not intend to solely fill the material needs here. I would hesitate to label all givers “helpers.” Helpers deal directly with material or financial needs, and they can be givers or takers. Givers are looking to be the listening ear and will dish out advice when someone asks. They can often discern whether the person asking is looking for advice or affirmation and will act accordingly. Givers are most often incredibly empathetic because they strive to understand others complexly and deeply.
I think that the discussion of introverts and extroverts is also important here, but only to say that these personality characteristics do not necessarily have any correlation with being givers or takers. Introversion has passive or submissive connotations that might lead one to believe that they tend to be the givers, but I have met many introverts who would identify more as takers. And I have also met many extroverts who are givers. This works the other way around, too.
At this point, you might be thinking that the takers sound selfish and the givers sound like brown-nosers. But I would argue that the world is in great need of both personality types. Takers can be very sure-footed about what they need and are not afraid to ask for it. And givers are able to look at the world from a less biased and more understanding point of view that allows them to make rational decisions.
Seeing these types of people interact with each other can be both exhausting and fascinating and satisfying all at once.
Takers and Takers. This is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult relationships to maintain. Both sides are trying to get something out of the relationship, and this creates a negative space in the middle because after a while, there may be nothing left to take from anymore. There must be an incredible amount of compromise here, and each side must learn how to give back or the relationship will fail.
Givers and Takers. This can also be a challenging relationship because it can be very one-sided. If the taker takes all the time, then the giver might feel constantly drained. These relationships make sense though because they are two sides of the same coin and they ideologically fit together. One is looking to fulfill a need where the other is looking to fill it. However if the imbalance is left unattended for too long, resentment can grow, and the relationship will fail. Compromise is needed here, too.
Givers and Givers. This is a relationship full of empathy and understanding. Each side strives to really know how the other is feeling and thinking all of the time. Each is trying to fulfill the others needs. However, they can become unsatisfied when the other is unwilling to share their own emotions. Givers might put up a defensive wall because they are unused to sharing, and there must be a lot of communication in order for this type of relationship to work.
Of course, there are many variations, and all people will play the role of giver and taker in their lives. But I hope you’ve found this as interesting as I have, and hopefully it’ll help you better understand why certain people might think and act a certain way!