For Better Or Worse – Am I In Love With A Giver Or Taker?

“Maintaining Harmonious Relationships”
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Dr. Robert Moss

Dr. Robert Moss is a relationship expert and author of For Better or For Worse: Am I in Love with a Giver or a Taker? He is a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology and a Diplomate American Board of Professional Neuropsychology.

Dr. Moss has authored 47 professional articles and presented at numerous regional, national and international conferences. He is the Editor-in-Chief of AIMS Neuroscience, a new open-access neuroscience journal.

_____

[More from Jasbina] —> [VIDEO] Intersections Match by Jasbina – From The Founder

—> [VIDEO] I Work Long Hours And Find It Impossible To Meet People To Date – 3 Ideas to Meet Dates!
_____

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(1:02):  Hello everyone and Happy New Year. Welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. We and our special guests discuss relationships, social dynamics and health and wellness, each of which contributes to meaningful and fulfilling lives.

This is Jasbina, your host. I’m a former practicing lawyer and the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.

I’m very excited to welcome Dr. Moss to our show tonight. Dr. Moss, who holds a PhD in Psychology, has authored a number of books, the most recent of which is For Better or For Worse: Am I in Love with a Giver or a Taker? I recently learned that more couples decide to get divorced in January than any other month of the year.

According to Dr. Moss, once patterns and behavior are recognized, relationships and marriages can be saved. By identifying whether your significant other is a giver or a taker, Dr. Moss provides information on effective ways to deal with each type of personality. Welcome, Dr. Moss.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(2:25): Thank you so much.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(2:27): As a professional matchmaker and dating coach, I’m fascinated by insights and perspectives regarding relationships. I’ve enjoyed reading For Better or For Worse: Am I in Love with a Giver or a Taker? I would love to explore some of the insights shared in your book with our listeners.

Dr. Moss, one foundational insight you share is that it is possible to explain everyone’s behavior with two simple and basic rules. I’d love to share the two rules with our listeners and have you expand on each with some examples. The first simple and basic rule that you share, which you state makes it possible to understand human behavior, is that everyone tries to control the world in a way that helps him or her to experience positive feelings and avoid negative feelings. Dr. Robert Moss, it would be great if you would explain and perhaps clarify this with examples.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(3:21): What we’re talking about when I make that statement is that everyone does want to experience positive emotions. No one wants negative emotions. To understand it, it’s important to recognize that you have two separate minds. Some call them the conscious and unconscious. We’re referring to the side of the brain that controls emotional functioning.

What determines what feels positive to us will be based on the memories that we form around positive experiences, and what feels negative is formed around negative experiences. We are all a product of our own past. The things we continue to do to turn on positive and turn off negative emotions is to try and control relationships and the things around us in our world that can activate those positive memories or turn off the negative memories.

_____

[More from Jasbina] —> [INTERVIEW] Deepa Iyer NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Leading & Working at Non-Profits

_____

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(4:17): The second simple and basic rule that you share, which you say makes it possible to understand human behavior, is that over time and all other things being equal, nothing remains as positive as it once was. It would be great if you would explain this rule and perhaps clarify with examples.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(4:38): This is referring to something my Momma used to tell me when I was a kid. When I got a new toy, the newness wears off. This will be true in terms of all of our experiences. Whether it’s a material thing or a relationship, the initial ecstasy that is present will start to wear off or turn more toward neutral. I don’t want to get too detailed in terms of the causes of that.

The bottom line is, in the initial parts of a relationship, falling in love is wonderful. Things continue along. Over a period of months, in some cases years, you will find that it becomes more neutral. It’s not necessarily negative but it can go more toward contentment as opposed to the initial ecstasy of falling in love.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(5:31): Another foundational concept that you share in your book is that of one brain and two minds. The resulting inevitability of which you term “think/feel conflict.” Can you explain this concept to our listeners, perhaps with any examples that you want to use?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(5:50): The left side of the brain controls the verbal thinking and talking to ourselves. If I was brought up in the US then my native spoken language would be English. I would talk to myself in my head. When I talk to myself in my head, that’s on the left side of the brain only. That will control the verbal thinking or talking aspects.

The right side controls many functions, one of which is emotional processing. We will develop a native emotional language, just like we have a native spoken language based upon our history, the things that turn on positive and negative for us in relationships. This is what we’ll be talking about this evening. The things that activate the positive and turn off the negative result in certain patterns of behavior emotionally.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(6:48): Now that we’ve discussed these foundational concepts, can you share with our listeners what you mean by “takers?” I’d love you to expound on this. I understand that it’s coming from a judgment-free zone. There is no judgment value attached to givers versus takers. It’s more a paradigm to explain behavior. I will let you share what you mean by the term “takers.”

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(7:17): I’ve done internet searches and found that a lot of people use the terms “giver” and “taker.” As you’ve already mentioned, they are usually associated as one being good and one being bad. We’re talking about these basic patterns that we’ve developed. We don’t have a choice in these things. We continue to maintain these patterns.

Takers activate positive feelings by taking power, control, attention or things in relationships. That’s what activates the positive. For these individuals, if they have to give something, it activates negative emotions. If a taker is going to do something for you, they will be looking for something in return. They will tolerate the negative emotions then they will want some positive in response to that.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(8:06): You identified 10 general behavior patterns of takers. To give our listeners a flavor, I’ll read each one of those general behavior patterns aloud. After I read each one, I’d love to give you the opportunity to expand. The first pattern you mentioned is that takers seem nicest in the beginning. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(8:33): When you first meet takers, these individuals come off very effectively, in some cases, almost too good to be true. If they want a relationship with you, they’re willing to do whatever they have to do to develop that relationship. They’re willing to give a great deal on the front end of the relationship. The idea is that if they get the relationship with you, they will have gotten the payoff for having to give. If they give a lot, even though it turns on negative emotions initially, they get the relationship itself.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(9:09): The second pattern that you mention is that takers need to be in control. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(9:17): For takers, if they can take power and control in relationships then that’s what will activate the positive feelings for them. They can do it in direct fashion or indirect fashion. If you’re in a marriage with a taker, you will see a pretty dramatic change from before you were married to that first year of marriage. In that first year of marriage, you will note that it’s almost as if they’re trying to control your life in terms of your relationships with others as well as the things that you do.

_____

[More from Jasbina] —> [BLOG] Does Love Come In Suprise Packages?

—> [VIDEO] I Am Frustrated With Dating – 3 Ways To Take A Break

—> [INTERVIEW] Bhuvaneshwari Bhagat Interview – Marriage & Family Counselor

—> [BLOG] Is There A Soulmate For Everyone?
_____

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(9:53): The third pattern you mention is that takers sometimes use anger to control others. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(10:03): If you go back to that second rule about being in control, if they can get something by being nice and they can get the same thing by being nasty or angry, over time they get angrier and nastier in their interactions. They feel more power and control getting it from expressing anger. The more you give into a taker, the more likely you are to see that anger come forth.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(10:35): Giving in is almost cyclical. You give in more and more anger may come out.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(10:43): Exactly. The whole thing is to get the most feelings of power and control in a relationship. It’s almost as if they can get it by being angry or nasty to you. You will see them getting more angry and nasty. They will push the limits further and further in the negative direction as they’re pulling from you the things they’re looking for.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(11:06): The fourth pattern you mention is that takers are often inconsistent. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(11:14): Rules that we develop in relationships tend to level the playing field. If you start dealing with a taker, they will be quite inconsistent. What was right last week may not be right this week. It’s going to be very hard to define any kind of consistent patterns or rules that you can use with them to get the behavior you’re looking for.

In essence, they tend to be very inconsistent because it gives them more power and control over time. That’s the reason when you start doing any kind of treatment or marital therapy, for example, when a taker is involved, it’s very difficult to get them to follow the skills that you’re trying to teach them over the long haul. It’s a way that they can get more power and control in a relationship by this inconsistency.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(12:08): Pattern five that you mention is that takers must win arguments. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(12:17): If you get into an argument with a taker, you will see telltale signs and start to recognize the patterns. The only rule that they’re playing by is, “I win, I get my way.” They are willing to say or do whatever they have to say or do during the course of the disagreement or argument to get you to give in to what they’re looking for. If you try to use logic and reasoning with them, they will disregard logic and reasoning. They will use something out of left field that makes no sense. The longer you talk to a taker, the greater the likelihood that they’re going to win. They’re willing to say whatever they have to say or do to come out on top at the end of the argument.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(12:58): The sixth pattern you mention is that takers sometimes condemn others. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(13:06): Takers, by their nature, always feel that others have things that they don’t. They will put others down to make themselves feel better. If they can find fault with others or gossip, that activates the positive feelings for them. This is the kind of pattern that you start seeing develop. They will put others down. If you’re in a one-on-one relationship with them, you will find them sniping at you. They will find fault with things that you do. It’s almost as if you feel like you can never measure up and do enough. Somehow, you can never actually achieve success in terms of them acknowledging the fact that you’ve done a good job.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(13:57): The seventh pattern that you mention is that takers believe that they are right. Given the fifth pattern where takers must win arguments, I can see how these two might work together. Tell us about the seventh pattern.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(14:18): You are exactly right. All of these things intertwine with one another as you start to look at general behavior patterns. Takers will come across with black-and-white thinking. Whichever way they are is the way that you’re supposed to be. If they tend to exercise, they think everyone else should exercise, too. They put people down for not doing enough of that. If they don’t do it, they will make fun of people who do. They tend to approach things and voice that they always know what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look at their behavior, they don’t actually follow through with those same patterns. It’s more what they say as opposed to what they do.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(15:00): It’s the inconsistency that you mentioned earlier.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(15:01): Exactly.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(15:03): In terms of black and white, the eighth pattern that you mention is that takers are prone to extremes.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(15:11): Exactly. They feel that if a little bit of something makes them feel good, a whole bunch should make them feel great. They will go to extremes, whether it’s with exercise or religion. They tend to be very condemning of others who don’t follow the same religion. It could be about making money. They tend to go to these extremes in terms of whatever they think. That goes back to what they say is right.

They also change over time. Many times, those exercise people who go to extremes, might completely change later in life. If they were strongly involved in a religion, if they can’t continue to get more out of others using that, many times they will turn their back on it. They consider everyone hypocrites. They tend to go to the extremes all the way or none at all. It’s very similar with drugs and alcohol as well.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(16:17): They’re swinging the pendulum one way or the other. The ninth general pattern that you mention is that takers want to be the center of attention. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(16:30): It goes back to the fact that takers want to be noticed by everyone. This is the kind of individual that, if they can take credit for things they have not done, it will create a great deal of positive feelings for them. They have a feeling of, “Look what I’m getting away with.” They will be the life of the party. If everyone else is quiet, they will be loud. If everyone is very loud, they tend to get quiet or sullen. They will stand out in some way. They will continuously bring attention back toward themselves and make a big to-do of everything that they can.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(17:11): The final general pattern that you mention with respect to takers is that takers often portray themselves as victims. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(17:22): They’re very good at playing the martyr/victim role in many cases. Behaviorally, they will get a lot more than others around them including a spouse or fiancée. They can come across as if they’re the ones who have done everything. No one appreciates them. They almost make you feel guilty if you don’t comply with all of their wishes all the time.

They will make statements such as, “All I do is give and give and I don’t get anything in return.” The reality, if you look at their behavior, is just the opposite. They take and take and give very little. If there is any kind of difficulty in life, they will come across as the martyr or victim. They will get everything they possibly can from whatever it may be that’s going on. That goes back to the attention, power and control that they get from acting out that role.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(18:23): In your chapter on intimate relationships with takers, you share some interesting suggestions regarding setting limits and negotiating fairly. Can you expand on that?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(18:37): When you start looking at taker behavior, if you give in to them when they’re being nasty, they’re just going to get nastier over time. One of the things that we talk about doing is establishing boundaries and limits such that, if you get into a disagreement with a taker, you don’t ever give into them when they’re being nasty to you.

Once they’ve been nasty, the second thing you will typically see them do is get cold. If you give into them being cold, you will find them ignoring you. You’re reinforcing the being cold part. The key is not to give into them when they’re being nasty or cold. Only give into a taker when they’re being nice. Only give in if you think it’s reasonable to give in on the point. You want to reinforce the idea, “You have to be nice to me to get anything from me.”

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(19:41): I found a quote from your book particularly compelling. I’d love to share the quote with our listeners and then ask you to expand. You wrote, “Takers fundamentally cannot change. They will always be takers. People involved in relationships with takers must accept them or reject them. If they accept them, they need not necessarily condone or accept all of their behavior.”

You later continue, “The most important thing that we must change is ourselves. We must learn to accept the taker as he or she really is, to do the things that help he or she to be their best selves in our presence and realistically assess whether the relationship is satisfactory.” Could you expand further, Dr. Moss?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(20:28): This is one of the key aspects of what we’re talking about. We’re coming from an angle of saying that, based upon the way we are put together as individuals, we are all very self-serving. We are trying to activate positive and turn off negative feelings. We cannot help the way that we develop those patterns. It’s based upon our childhood, up through our adolescent years and through our adult years. If I’m dealing with a taker, it’s not them choosing to be a taker. The only way they can turn on positive feelings is by taking.

Think about it this way. If I give to you, and it turns on negative feelings, how long do you really expect me to continue to give? If I can turn on positive feelings only by taking, of course that’s the behavior pattern I’m going to do. It’s about beginning to accept the reality of the situation that this is all the person is capable of doing. For example, I’ve never had a great singing voice. No matter how many singing lessons you give me, I’m never going to be good at doing it. I don’t have the ability to do this.

If you were in a relationship with me and that was a key thing that you were looking for, you have to accept the fact that you’re never going to have this wonderful voice coming from me. If I’m in relationship with a taker, I have to recognize that they’re not holding back. They’re only doing what they’re capable of doing.

If I want to get improved behaviors, I have to do it not by changing the person, but by changing my behaviors in reaction to that person. I’m not going to give into them when they’re being nasty or cold to me. I’m changing my behavior pattern. I recognize the only way they can put forth being nice is because I’m drawing the limits and demanding that of them. Does that make sense?

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(22:25): Absolutely.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(22:26): It goes back to the fact that it’s important to recognize that people can only do what they’re capable of doing. Our goal becomes one of recognizing what they are truly capable of doing or not doing.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(22:40): That makes a lot of sense. It really gives context. It puts flesh on the bones of what we’re talking about. That’s very helpful. Now that we’ve discussed takers, Dr. Moss, I’d like you to switch gears and ask you to share with our listeners what you mean by “givers.”

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(23:00): It’s a very similar kind of thing. For givers, positive feelings for themselves in relationships is by the giving of power, control, attention or things. An example would be for a giver, the most positive thing is if I decide to do something for you, I think I did a good job on it and you appreciate me. That would be the major positive thing. Givers have a hard time accepting from others. It’s almost as if when you do something for me, it turns on the negative. I almost feel guilty accepting it. If you do something for me, I feel like I need to do something in return for you.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(23:38): I need to reciprocate right away.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(23:41): That’s exactly right. If you gave me a cake, I have to give you two pies.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(23:48): Similar to what you had done with takers, you identify 10 general behavior patterns of givers. I will read aloud each of those general behavior patterns for the benefit of our listeners. After I read each one, I’d love to give you the opportunity to expand. The first patterns is that givers seem likeable but reserved. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(24:20): Givers are going to come across pretty consistently in relationships. When you first meet them, they will come across that way throughout a relationship. This is not the individual who, if they want to meet you, they’re going to jump over three tables to introduce themselves. They’re not going to stand out or be show-offish. They come across more reserved in the very beginning. Their pattern is what you see is what you get.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(24:53): The second pattern pertaining to givers is that givers want to feel like the good guy. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(25:03): The primary rule is, “I want to be seen by other individuals as being a good person.” That can mean one of two things. The default rule for givers is that they want to please others most of the time. If I’m pleasing others and people like me then I feel like I’m being the good guy. As we all know, over time in reality, we can never do that with every person that we meet. You can’t please everyone all the time.

Many times, they will develop rules to define what being the good guy means. If they can follow those rules to define being the good guy then if they displease someone, at least they won’t have the same negative emotions tied to the disapproval. They know they’re following these fair rules, if you will, as they define being a good person.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(25:57): In explaining the second behavior pattern, you also alluded to the third general behavior pattern of givers. Givers try to gain approval by doing nice things. Similarly, you also alluded to the fourth general pattern, which is that givers establish rules and follow them. Let’s jump to the fifth general pattern. Givers fight only when there is no alternative. Tell me more about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(26:33): Givers by nature do not like conflict, by contrast to takers who, many times, create conflict. Givers, on the other hand, try not to engage in it. They try to avoid it. I’m going back to their consistency to their rules. I don’t really want to have any kind of conflict. I’m going to try to avoid it. The only way you will see them lose it is if you push them into a corner that they can’t get out of.

For example, let’s say that I have a giver who drinks too much. I might bring to their attention, “You really need to do something about this.” At first, they will play it off. If you keep badgering them, they will blow up long enough to make you back away. If you back off them then they will not continue to attack. They will pull back into their shell. They don’t have anything to say it’s okay to have conflict. They will do whatever they can to try to avoid that.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(27:37): The sixth pattern is that givers have a thick inner shell.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(27:47): This is something I do in treatment frequently. You want to evoke an image in a person’s mind. When you start to evoke that image, you are addressing the emotional side of the brain that controls the emotions. That thick inner shell gives you a picture in your mind. You can imagine this giver type pulling back into the shell.

You can’t penetrate it. The more you try to penetrate it, the more they’re going to avoid and escape situations, particularly those in which they feel like there are unwinnable situations. They can’t solve the problem. If there is conflict, they’re going to pull into this shell and try to avoid that any way that they can. The primary way that they deal with relationships if things get heated is to escape or avoid. That’s what we’re talking about with that inner shell.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(28:42): The seventh pattern is that givers suppress their emotions.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(28:52): Givers, by their nature, are not going to wear their emotions on their sleeves. You won’t necessarily know. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the emotions. Many givers are well aware of the emotions that they have but they don’t necessarily express them freely.

Particularly if it’s negative emotions, like frustration or anger, they will have a tendency to bottle it up and push ahead. When we say “suppress” it’s not to say that they don’t recognize it. They won’t necessarily express a lot of those things. They’re going to keep it to themselves. Even though there may be resentment there, they’re still not going to express it in most cases.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(29:40): The eighth general pattern is that givers are hard workers. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(29:46): We talked about takers wanting the attention for everything. They don’t necessarily have to do all of the work. On the other hand, givers are going to stick to it. If they get into a situation, they evaluate how well they’re doing compared to others. They will always be the best at what they do. They’re willing to take on extra duties. They’re willing to do whatever they have to do to prove to themselves and others that they’re being a good guy.

Interestingly enough, work also serves as a very useful way to avoid conflict or negative things. If I’m working and keeping busy and you tell me I’m trying to avoid, if I’m a giver I can say, “I’m doing what needs to be done here. I’m being a good guy.” Work can serve a very useful purpose, not only for their accomplishments and achievements, but also as a way to avoid certain kinds of problematic situations.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(30:46): The ninth pattern pertaining to givers is that givers have trouble accepting favors. Tell us about that.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(30:58): That goes back to something we talked about a moment ago. They do not want to accept. They have difficulty in doing this. As we talk a little bit further, perhaps I’ll get into a discussion about, if you get into a disagreement with takers and givers and how they’re going to express those things. For example, if you have a giver who is angry with you, after the conflict over, this individual will continue to do for you the things that they normally do but they won’t let you do anything for them.

It’s like, “I’ll still do for you but you can’t do for me. If you do for me, I will feel almost obligated to be nicer to you and do more for you.” It’s that same difficulty in being able to readily accept from others. That’s one of the difficulties when you’re dealing with givers. These are not the “good people” because they can create problems themselves in relationships, as you can see.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(31:58): The tenth general behavior pattern is that givers rarely seek help.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(32:12): They are the kind of individuals who, when it comes to looking at things like psychological treatment or assistance, are pretty good problem solvers on their own. If they are not very good at that, they tend to escape or avoid. They fade out. They don’t usually come in trying to figure out how to fix things. If they can’t do it themselves, they almost feel, “I just need to avoid or not deal with it.” In looking at psychotherapy, many times, they will be the last to come in although they may be helped the most.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(32:54): Now that we have outlined the givers and takers, let’s talk about interactions. In your chapter on intimate relationships with givers, you share some interesting suggestions regarding arguing fairly. Can you share these suggestions with examples for our listeners?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(33:15): If you’re dealing with givers, one of the best things you can do is recognize that they do have rules that they follow. As you start to deal with them, if they’re doing things that are creating problems for you, fall back on a term that we use. You can say, “It hurts when you do this to me.” If you can use the term “hurts” with a giver then it’s going to have a totally different impact than if you use terms like, “You frustrate me,” or “You make me angry.”

Then you will get them in a defensive pattern. When they argue, they will explain to you why they’re not the bad person here. If you use terms like, “When you do this thing, it really hurts,” that’s a show-stopper for a giver. They don’t have any rules that say it’s okay to hurt anyone. That’s the point at which you can open them up for more dialogue.

Givers want to be the good guy. They don’t want to be the bad guy. They do have the ability that, if they see their behavior is upsetting, they can change the rules. They can follow through pretty consistently with those rules over time. These are the kinds of people that you can sit down and discuss things with. You can usually come up with reasonable solutions to the problems. Fair negotiation is something that they’re capable of doing, unlike takers who are not capable of doing that. Givers don’t want to feel like the bad guy. If you make your points and note why their behavior is bad then you will see them start to modify.

An example would be if you have a spouse who is out all day on the weekends playing golf and you want them to spend more time with you, they think that playing golf is okay. They think, “I’m not being a bad guy. I’m being a good guy. The only way that you’re going to alter their behavior is to let them know, “When you’re gone all the time, it really hurts. I feel very much alone.” You have to activate some negative feelings inside of them before they can alter that behavior. Then you can start to negotiate more reasonable kinds of patterns.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(35:24): Also in your chapter on intimate relationships with givers, you describe the potential risk of which you term “a parallel play relationship.” Do share what you mean by this with our listeners, Dr. Moss.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(35:37): The second author of the book, Rex Walker, is the one who came up with that concept. Givers want to have control over how things are done. They want to do the whole thing themselves in many cases to feel like they’ve accomplished something. If you’re in a relationship with a giver, they usually want to divide out who’s responsible for doing what. They will often develop their own areas of interest and things that they do work-wise.

If you’re in a relationship with another giver, that individual can also do the same thing. They find themselves growing apart. It’s almost like, “You’re doing your thing and I’m doing mine. All of a sudden, one day we wake up and realize we don’t have something in common.” Even though there may not be any conflicts when you have two givers in a relationship, you find that they can drift apart. They find that they don’t have things in the common as the relationship progresses.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(36:37): It’s that whole concept of living separate lives.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(36:39): Exactly.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(36:43): I found another quote from your book compelling as well. I’d love to share the quote with our listeners and then ask you to expand. You wrote, “We cannot expect to have perfect relationships with imperfect people. We must learn to accept people as they are. In so doing, we must learn to accept ourselves.” I found that very compelling. Please expand further, Dr. Moss.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(37:10): All of our lives, we are barraged with things from our childhood and into our adult years starting with fairy tales, happily ever after and Prince Charming. People many times develop this concept of having the perfect partner, that individual who is always going to be there for me, to be sensitive to my needs and to fulfill those needs. The reality is that there is no perfect individual. We describe that very clearly here with this think-feel conflict.

You will find that they will develop patterns where they can’t give everything or do everything. They can’t readily accept things that you want them to accept. You have to come to grips with the fact that you will never have that perfect individual. All individuals are imperfect. The goal becomes being realistic in a relationship of what my significant other is capable of and not capable of doing. As I do that, I have to let go of some of these preconceived notions and desires that, somehow, that individual is going to be able to do everything for me.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(38:40): That touches upon the next quote that I want to share with our listeners. You touched upon it in what you just said. You write, “As we begin to accept the imperfect people in our lives, we bid farewell to the perfect partner. The perfect partner is not a real person. Rather, he or she is a person that we create in our minds. The perfect partner is the person that we always believed would make us happy for life.” You later write, “Truly loving someone else means having realistic expectations about the person and abandoning the quest to make that person into the perfect partner.” Do expand further on this very insightful quote.

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(39:45): One of the things that I try to do with my patients is to redefine this term “love.” When most people think about the term “love” they think about having positive feelings towards someone. I would try to redefine it more along the lines of, “If I truly love someone, I’m accepting the reality of that individual, how they are, what they’re capable of doing and not capable of doing. If I truly love someone, using that definition, then I can start to be very realistic.”

You’re not only just dealing with them, but also letting go of the notion that somehow I can form them into something that they’re not capable of becoming. It cuts across all relationships. For example, if I define loving my wife as saying I have positive feelings toward my wife, as soon as I become hurt and angry with her, I must have fallen out of love. That’s if I define it as emotional.

The reality is that we define it in terms of the relationship. For example, if I’m the number one relationship for you, you ought to be the number one relationship for me. If that is the case, then I’m going to start dealing with you as you really are. I will accept you as this relationship that you’re my spouse. I also have to accept that you’re only capable of doing certain things.

Therefore, I’m realistic as I start to deal with you and my own behavior of what you can truly give to me under certain conditions. I can let go of the things that I can’t have from you. I have to grieve the loss of the things that can no longer be there. Either I accept you as what you are and grieve the loss of what can’t be there or I’m going to have to accept the fact that you can’t give me what I truly need to have. I have to leave the relationship. That’s difficult when people start to grapple with it at that level.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(41:36): Dr. Moss, you mentioned your patients. I know you have a very active clinical practice in addition to your writing. I want to ask an open-ended question. Based on your clinical practice and your experiences with your patients, what is topmost of mind in terms of guidance that you might give our listeners with respect to navigating their relationships?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(42:08): I used to say “giver” and “taker.” I changed it to “Type G” and “Type T.” When I say “taker” people automatically have a negative reaction to that. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I was working with a large number of patients. The patterns became more obvious as I was dealing with the patients. This is within the context of a treatment technique called emotional restructuring.

We’re trying to help neutralize negative emotional memories inside of people. As we’re talking right now, on the left side of the brain only, the listeners are starting to recognize these patterns. It is not changing their own emotional memories and reactions that are housed on the right. In clinical practice, if we can neutralize some of the negative memories, not only can people think differently about this situation, but they can emotionally react differently.

For example, in the 70s and 80s there was a standing joke that you gave assertiveness training to everyone because this is a skill that you could teach them. Many times, you can teach people how to be assertive and they can understand logically how to do it. When they got into the actual situations, they would feel like they couldn’t do it. That’s the difference between thinking and feeling.

This whole pattern of understanding givers and takers came out of this aspect of treatment. It’s something that people can readily understand. As people begin to grapple with it, you have to let go of some of your preconceived notions of what you thought you would like to see exist in this world.

You need to begin to see, “Are these patterns actually there?” You begin to work with these things and look at your spouse. We also apply this to other relationships including work relationships, understanding your parents and understanding your siblings. It’s not just a giver-taker relationship in a marriage or close relationship like we talked about this evening. It’s going to be every one of your relationships including friendships. It’s a radical change as you start working with this and you begin to perceive others’ behaviors and understand where they’re coming from.

More importantly, it also helps you to feel, “They’re acting this way because of them, not because of me and what I’m doing.” That’s one of the most liberating things. I can get outside myself and start asking the question, “Why is this person doing as they’re doing?” That is opposed to asking the question, “What am I doing that’s causing them to be the way they are?” You will find that you can navigate and deal with things much more effectively. I don’t know if that makes sense.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(45:05): Yes, absolutely. Having walked through some of the foundational concepts, I think what you’re saying makes sense. It is very interesting. In your clinical practice, I would imagine that the challenges are different whether you have a relationship between a taker and a giver, two takers or two givers. I would imagine they all have different challenges. Have you found that the challenges with one type of couple is greater than another? Are they very different challenges with different dynamics?

 

Dr. Robert Moss

(46:01): As you said, there are different challenges. Some people are more successful using certain approaches than others. We’ve already mentioned the fact that you can’t expect the perfect relationship between two imperfect individuals. That’s always a given. There is no ideal. In the giver-giver relationships, you will find that they have a tendency to drift apart and develop separate interests in things. Falling out of love is the kind of stuff that they will describe.

When you have giver-taker, the giver in the relationship is someone who can learn certain skills. Many times, that’s how I approach marital therapy. I teach people communication skills and negotiating skills. In this case, one partner can learn how to do it. They have to understand that if they’re the individual who is capable of reinforcing the fact that we have to follow these rules, they have to assume the burden of incorporating these fair rules. They have to be the one to enforce them. The taker is going to push the limits.

The taker-taker relationships are the most volatile. These are often the ones who describe with the most ecstasy as well. They have extreme highs and extreme lows like a roller coaster. Whether the relationship makes it or not goes back to commitment. You can have relationships that are very problematic but they remain together because of the idea, “We’re committed to making this thing work.” Others tolerate other kinds of things. Again, each one is quite a challenge in its own right.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia  

(47:48): I’d like to thank you, Dr. Moss, for joining us today and sharing your insights. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Dr. Moss’ book is, For Better or For Worse: Am I in Love with a Giver or a Taker?

In case you joined us late or would like to share this show with people in your life, I’d like to remind you that today’s radio show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I can be reached at jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.

_____

I appreciate you hanging out with us tonight. Do email me with topics you’d like discussed in future shows. Make sure to join us for next month’s show on Sunday, February 21st at 7:00 PM Eastern. Thanks everyone.

_____

What do you think?

Are You in Love with A Giver Or Taker? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

_____