Through my failed marriage, I've concluded that, despite the already recognized different classification of personalities, humans fall into two main person types: Selfless and selfish.
On a level playing field, selfless people want to give more and look for ways to give more, but receive less and seldom look for ways to receive, while selfish people receive more and look for ways to receive more, but they and give less and seldom look for ways to give.
A giver (selfless) can be sympathetic or empathetic. A sympathetic giver will give what he/she things the other person needs/wants. An empathetic giver will give what he/she learns the other person needs/wants. Often an empathetic giver is willing to interact with the person in need and learn from their interaction. Is a good listener, which enables them to engage with a high consciousness of the other person's likes and dislikes, ups and downs.
Both a sympathetic and an empathetic giver ask themselves, "what will happen to the other person if I don't help them". They don't hide from problems, they face them and try to do what they can. And sometimes if they learn they can't do it, they try to find help beyond them.
Selfish people hate problems and often hide away from them. That's why they'll not engage with a person in need. Usually they'll ignore some's problems based on a general excuse that the other person will feel bad about them knowing. However, if the existing social system requires/demands them to participate in helping out, they'll do the minimum. They ask themselves, "what will happen to me if I help the other person".
If a selfless and a selfish person are paired together, at first they seem like the perfect pair because one is a receiver (selfish) while the other a giver (selfless). However, after a while, the giver (selfless) will get drained and will need to be replenished with fuel so that they can continue giving. Unfortunately, they are paired with a receiver (selfish), thus the giver (selfless) depletes/starves. The giver and the receiver are in a parasitic relationship, giver being the host, receiver being the parasite.
What should happen: A giver (selfless) needs to be paired with a giver (selfless), while a receiver (selfish) should be paired with a receiver (selfish) for the two individuals who make up the pair to make it through without depleting/starving.
Experimental Analogy: 3 groups of two people each (a pair) are put together to starts off a journey. Each person is given $100.
The 1st pair comprises of a giver (selfless person) and a receiver (selfish person). The giver (selfless) keeps giving the receiver (selfish) $10 every hour. After 10hrs, the giver (selfless) will have $0 while the receiver (selfish) will have $200. In the 11th hour, the giver will be a beggar.
The 2nd pair comprises of two givers (selfless). Every hour, they keep giving each other $10. At the 11th hour, each will have $100.
The 3rd pair comprises of two receivers (selfish). Since they don't give any money to each other, at the 11th hour, each will have $100.
Conclusion: A giver (selfless person) will only survive the journey if paired with a giver (selfless person). When one person is down (which always happens), he/she will be lifted by the other. A receiver (selfish) person is best paired with a receiver (selfish) person. Each will hardly go down because they both don't use their resources.
Just think about it.
Interesting question: Why do givers initially gravitate towards a receivers and vice vasa, but givers often are repelled by another giver, and similarly, receivers often repelled by another receiver?
Givers (selfless people) feel accepted when the other person receives what they want to give. Receivers (selfish people) are best receivers because they do it quickly.
The problem is, givers (selfless people) always want to give, but never want to receive. Fact is, a giver will need to receive at some point to replenish the resources they tap into when giving. But a giver will only want to receive when he/she HAS to receive, often at his/her most drained point.
Consequently, receivers (selfish people) feel accepted when they receive from the other person. They always positioned themselves at the receiving end not at the giving end.
I gravitated towards the lady I married because she received what I wanted to give. I learnt what made her to feel loved and I gave it. I learnt her colors then I painted the streets with her colors. I learnt her pet peeves so that I could avoid pot holes and paddles that could soured sweet moments. I gave her the keys to all my closets just because I could.
Her really enjoyed the ride and all was well. But I was in need and did not know why. Upon looking, my fuel was running low, and I needed someone to check on my needs and tend to them. I started begging her to do it. When she did it once, she would hold me down to it as if she gave me a golden key. Since I was so starved, I started appreciating any bread crumbs or any rice grains that could fall off her table. I decided to live by that, until I could not. Upon begging more, I was told I was too needy. She made me feel bad whenever I asked from her (passive aggression), while I did not wait for her to ask, but instead studied her needs and wants then gave to her. I thought that was the definition of love, which I still think it is.
That's when it dawned to me that I had depleted all my resources when I lived the life of looking for her needs and wants and giving to her, while no one had looked for my needs. My needs were now surfacing on my face. That's when I realized that I was a giver married to a receiver.
I've learnt my lesson.
Going forward, I hope to meet a lady who is first selfless, and who has the same relational needs as I have, need for romance, sex, heart to heart connection. I've read of many here in EP and thus I know they exist.
I'm writing this post after a lot of questions about my failed marriage since I don't want to be in another failed marriage. I want to know the mistakes I did so that I'll avoid them in my next.
I'm also writing hoping it helps someone who has been having the same questions as I've had.
lovegentle lovegentle
36-40, M
9 Responses Aug 17, 2014

This post really spoke to me. I'm definitely a selfless person and I also married a very selfish, possessive and controlling person. It really does come down to service to others and service to self. I wasn't attracted to other givers because I came from a very selfish family background and I thought this was normal. OH MY GOODNESS I learned a lot being married to a narcissistic vindictive and misogynistic person. I won't make that same mistake again and it's because I got married too quickly. I think had the courtship lasted more than 3 months I would have realized how horrible he was. But in a way, it helped me get away from my toxic parents. Anyway, lessons learned and still learning.

You definitely have a resilient spirit, especially from learning that you've been in a selfish environment even when before marriage. You are resilient because you have not allowed that to define you, but do seek something better, a better environment that will bring forth the goodness hidden inside you. There are definitely people who bring out the goodness in you, even the kind that you never thought existed in you. And this happens when you identify the person who selflessly serves your deep emotional needs, a giver. There are so many givers than receivers, I'm convinced, because if that was not the case, the world would have consumed itself. There are people who still want to give back smiles and laughter, love and encouragement, and don't want anything for it. So, please, don't give in again to a selfish person. The selfish are best with a selfish person, because they will not add or take away from each other. So they both will be good.

You have a way with words. Thank you for saying all that. The world needs more kind, passionate and caring people like you. Don't let anyone bring you down, either.

Thanks. I'm glad I can share, and that my experience is helpful. I've also learn and gathered quite some life nuggets from your experience. It's by reading experiences like yours that have heightened my perception and broadened my perspective towards this one-time life that we all live. So, please, continue sharing. :)

Wow!!!! This made my day today. Very well written

I'm glad. I hope it lifts your spirits with hope. ;)

Wow.... Excellent post. Very spot on......I am a giver, a fixer, a doer, a problem solver. I am always at the bottom of my priority list. I give until I am depleted, and I get upset not because I expect anyone to give back, but once I get to the point I'm depleted, I need to recharge and the problem is when you are with the selfish person, you get ZERO opportunities to recharge as the selfish one in the relationship takes for granted that you will always be there, and is relentless in their expectations of you. That's where I get frustrated. Not that I want them give back but that I am not allowed the courtesy to have any time for me. So, at the ripe old age of 42 I am learning the value of self care and making myself a priority when I need to and telling my selfish partner to give me space or they can f*** off!

You've said it very well. Because most givers never demand to receive, but only realize they need some fuel when they are completely depleted. However, if they are given, they would receive. Thus, if paired with a giver, they'll never get to the point of depletion because, as they've been giving, they've been receiving.
I think you are doing the right thing, focusing on yourself. Though I know that, it will not be long before you'll be guilt strap for not giving. At least that's what happens to me, when I focus on myself, then I find myself back into the business of giving and forgetting myself.

I've learned that, as a giver, when I get depleted it doesn't upset me that I'm not receiving. It upsets me that I've been depleted and can't give any more.

Reason being givers don't know how to receive. More often than not, a giver turn down so many offers. They are naturally built like that. However, the truth is, unless they get replenished, they'll just die early, which is not fair to them selves, and to the world.
I think it's very important for a giver to realize he/she needs to recharge to be able to continue giving and enjoy doing it.
That's what I had to come to terms with, sadly, it was after I broke down and snapped into an affair, something I never ever thought I'd ever do, and something that I hate I did. But today, I'll not wait until I'll all drained to the point that I can't clearly tell what my principles are.

Good post, explains the dynamic well. Except most people describe themselves as givers.

Many selfish people would self-declare as givers.The reason is that giving is such an effort to them ,they feel they are giving a lot.

I do agree. A giver does not keep track with his/her giving since it is next to nature. Often, a giver will even forget acts of kindness he/she may have done. Giving to a giver is like breathing.
A receiver hardly ever gives. When he/she gives, it's like he/she cut part of his/her leg and gave it away, even if it was just taking the cup to the sink. He/she journal it so that history will never forget it.
Unfortunately, receivers are good at magnifying their one time giving to drown the many times a giver has given them. The fact that they ask themselves what they'll gain if they give, clearly explains that their giving always has strings attached. Passive aggression.

Oh hell no!

To me, that is one of the most lucid and logical observations of relationships that I have EVER read. Being a "giver", I understand EXACTLY what you are saying. Pity we all don't get to take a test BEFORE marriage to determine what our tendencies are. 😔

And that's one test I'm hoping to give. Just that it's hard to know how to carry out such as test and not seem crazy.
I think to goal is, as bazzar has put it, is he/she willing to contribute. And this is not monetary, but is he/she looking into my needs and wants without me having to ask her to do it. But before then, I'd have to have worked on myself to make sure that I'm asking for something I'm willing to give.

I believe your excellent post is a really good synopsis of the absence of a "we" in a dysfunctional marriage.
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In a functional deal, there is spouse #1 who brings certain things to the table, and spouse #2 who brings certain things to the table.
The amalgamation of goods accrued on the table is there for either spouse to draw on. The "reservoir of goodwill" if you like. A self sustaining "we".
At times, #1 will be withdrawing more than #2, and sometimes #2 will be drawing more than #1, but ALWAYS, both #1 and #2 are trickling more goodwill into the common reservoir.
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The **** hits the fan when spouse #1 stops trickling IN to the pool
or
starts to drain the pool.
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FWIW, I reckon the main problem we see in this group, is spouse #1 ceasing to contribute to the pool, rather than draining the pool.
This situation leaves spouse #2 in an untenable position. They can't put in *double* to keep the level of the pool up (but believe me, they will try their best to do so) and they can't make their own sustaining withdrawal from the pool either, due to decreasing levels.
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At that point, any notion of "we" is gone.
There's just #1 and #2. No "we".
There is rather, a dysfunctional situation, and shortly after, an anguished story on ILIASM.
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Tread your own path.

Bazzar, thanks for adding a more clearer analogy to the point. I like the "reservoir of goodwill" illustration, which exists in a selfish to selfless and a selfless to selfless relationship, but does not exist in a selfish to selfish relationship. And yes, one person in the pair may, at times contribute less than they are giving but not always.
The reservoir never goes dry in a selfless to selfless pair, but will soon go dry in a selfish to selfless pair.

This is OUTSTANDING analysis and a spot on description of what I think many of us are is/have gone through. Thank you for articulating it so well. I may try to use the $100 analogy at my next therapy session! One of my wife's biggest criticisms of me is my 'neediness'. As if that is a weakness. Perhaps I am so needy, because my resources have been drained by giving, giving, giving for 17 years? Perhaps, she is not needy because I have been giving, giving, giving for 17 years? Therefore it is nearly impossible for her to imagine being so empty and hence needy.

It's a realization that shed light at a dark moment of inner quest answers.
I'm glad it was helpful and I wish you well as you proceed with a resolve to your situation.