Are You a Giver or Taker?





         Donald A. Cadogan, Ph.D.




We all want our intimate relationships to be the best they can be.  We seek partners who care as much about our needs as their own.   And one way we can achieve this is by being the kind of person we are looking for, that is, by being willing ourselves to both give as well as take in the relationship.  But in order to make such an arraignment last we must strive for parity between what we receive and what we provide.  We must find some reasonable symmetry between our generosity and our selfishness if we are to avoid problems.  In other words, if you do a great deal more for your partner than s/he does for you, you will probably feel cheated sooner or later and become bitter.  Conversely, if your partner does much more, s/he will likely become unhappy with you.  Striking an evenhanded balance here is one important way to avoid the destructive resentments that can easily undo an otherwise good partnership.


However, I'm not talking about seeking perfect equality between what you get and what you give, for no relationship is exactly 50:50.  I am suggesting instead you simply strive to avoid what might be called a martyr - exploiter imbalance where one person clearly uses the other or is used excessively by the other.


Unfortunately, without being aware of it, many of us develop a tendency to give too much or else to take our partners for granted and give too little back. The following quiz was developed to help you determine whether you are primarily a Giver or Taker.  Knowing this can help you correct any potentially harmful inequities.




Circle T (true) or F (false) on each question before looking at the answers. Try to answer the questions with the first response that comes to your mind.  This will enable the quiz to best present a picture of your natural tendencies.  Please note, however, surveys of this kind are not definitive and can only reflect trends in your personality.


1.  I agree with the following statement:  It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice                    T      F

2.  I need to be liked by others more than other people seem to.                                                                         T      F

3.  I do not believe that nice people finish last.                                                                                                       T      F


4.  I believe that most people on welfare are truly in need.                                                                                    T      F

5.  I frequently give to charity.                                                                                                                                    T      F

6.  Christmas is my favorite holiday.                                                                                                                        T      F

7.  There was much love in my family when I was a child.                                                                                      T      F


8.  My efforts to achieve or succeed in life are seldom interfered with by others.                                               T      F


9.  I do not agree with this saying:  Do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first.                             T      F


10. I usually feel uncomfortable when others do things for me.                                                                               T      F


11. I am usually crushed when others have bad opinions of me.                                                                            T      F


12. I believe that if you cannot say something nice about someone, don't say anything.                                     T      F






The T (true) answers represent qualities often found in Givers, or people who are compliant, pleasing, or other-oriented.  Such individuals tend to seek approval and have a great desire to be liked by others. They have a propensity to give or do a great deal for others with the hope of being liked. Some psychologists believe that about fifty percent of our population has this characteristic.

In the extreme, however, Givers or compliant personalities lack assertiveness and are easily exploited.  In such cases resentment and hostility readily develops.  But, for fear of rejection, their anger is seldom expressed until it builds to the point of rage. Ten of more T answers would suggest an extreme in this area.


The F (false) answers reflect qualities often found in Takers, or people who are aggressive and self-oriented.  Some of these take-charge characteristics can be helpful for effective leadership. But in its extreme, it creates resentment, hostility and, eventually, opposition.  Eight or more P answers suggest the extreme in this position.


Perhaps some politicians or business executives are driven by elevations in the narcissistic or “selfish” characteristics found in the Taker style.  In intimate relationships, however, the advantage goes to more loving individuals who are comfortable being a little more giving than taking.  It is Important to remember that relationships can be easily undone by constant bickering over the 51 49 percent giving/taking spot.