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Givers, Takers, and Matchers

The best lessons for marriage can sometimes come from resources unrelated to the topic. For example, Adam Grant wrote an intriguing book called Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. This book is intended for a business audience, but I also believe there are crossover elements for intimate relationships. His theories detail 3 categories of people: givers, matchers, and takers. There are distinctive characteristics of each category that promote an emotionally fulfilling relationship or become good indicators of a relationship failing relationship. Here’s a brief summary of each category.


Common questions heard from a giver are, “What can I do for you?” or “How can I help?” They are always looking for ways to take care of others; to make sure others are well and comfortable. For obvious reasons, most people enjoy having givers around because they’re typically kind, considerate, and happy to contribute.


Matchers are the people who keep tabs on how much they’ve contributed compared to how much they’ve received. Their expectation is to always receive after they give. A statement they may make is, “I did this for you, so you should do this for me.” Keeping things even and fair is the goal.


The best way to know if someone is a taker is to see how they treat someone whom they perceive is no use to them. Typically, they’ll treat a person well only if said person is able to help them in some way. Takers are charming and charismatic on the outside, but primarily motivated by self-interest. You become neglected or cast aside as unimportant once they have what they want.

Which Is The Happiest in Marriage?

This seems like a no-brainer, right? The giver is, of course, the happiest and most fulfilled. However, in a plot twist, Grant also concludes they can be the least happy. How?

Boundaries are the key. For example, a relationship between a giver and a taker could end with the giver being utterly exhausted and hurt by giving to a partner who isn’t concerned with meeting any of their partner’s needs. However, proper boundaries (for more information on boundaries check out the two-part blog series by Sarah Howard) allow givers to be there, but create space so that resentment doesn’t take over.

The Most Successful Relationships…

Imagine both partners who are supportive, attempt to meet one another’s needs, and generally have the other’s best interest in mind. Sound pretty good, right? A relationship where partners are quick to forgive, slow to anger, and intentionally saturate the relationship with gratitude is one primed to thrive.

I’m not suggesting a relationship between a giver and a matcher/taker can’t learn to work well. However, growing into a meaningful relationship is going to take a lot of intentional effort. I’m always hopeful for change and you should be as well. If you’ve done some soul searching and can honestly you lean more toward being a matcher or a taker, then that’s a great first step!

If you would like some guidance as an individual in becoming more of a giver in your relationship, then please give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714. We have some wonderful counselors who would love to help.


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