Someone once told me to surround myself with people who add to my life more than take. As a natural giver, I find myself thinking about this advice often. Generosity, empathy, and an openness to trust and give to others are all beautiful qualities, but unfortunately they are also attractive qualities to people who have a tendency to take. Over the years, I have learned the importance of assessing my social circles and staying close to the people who give as much love and energy to me as I do to them.
What is a taker? A taker is someone who views another’s willingness to give as a weakness—an opportunity to take advantage. Every relationship, of course, involves both give and take, but when the balance is consistently off and one person feels tired and used, something’s wrong. Taking can come in the obvious form of money and possessions, but also in the form of time and energy. In high school, I had a friend who used to invite me on hour-long walks to catch up and then use 95% of the time to talk while I listened. Each time I tried to interject, she would talk over me, and only during the last couple of minutes would she ask me how I was doing. After each walk, I felt drained. I felt unheard, uncared about, and mentally exhausted. It took me a long time to speak up about these feelings because it took me a long time to value my time and energy, but even after I voiced my side, the relationship didn’t change. I remained the giving ear and she remained the taking talker. Eventually, I had to let her go. Ending any kind of relationship is sad, but the wonderful truth about letting go of a draining relationship is that it opens up space for an adding relationship instead.
What is an adder? An adder is someone who recognizes and values another’s willingness to give. An adder is someone who lifts another up and leaves them feeling supported, motivated, and loved just the way they are. While takers tend to drain, adders energize. Returning to my crappy high school days, I used to feel tired and lonely after seeing my friends, but now, I feel inspired and full of life. I needed to do some inner work and get the heck out of high school (not the best years of my life), but I also needed to look around and change up my company. I needed to find better friends: ones who would give just as much of their ear and time to me as I gave to them.
Now that I have those positive types of friends, I make sure to support them and embrace them with extra love any chance I get. The rewards go both ways: the more I give, the more they give. We empower each other, putting equal energy into the relationship to uplift us all. Good company is all about good vibes. Our time in this world is precious, so don’t waste it on people who bring you down or view you as an easy person to take advantage of. Find people who cherish your love and support and fill you up with love and support the same. Subtract the takers, multiply the adders, and equal a rich life of warmth and possibilities.