My 80/20 Rule: Should You Really Give 100 Percent In A Relationship?

March 27, 2014  |  

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I don’t think I will ever give 100 percent of myself in a relationship. As crazy as it sounds, allow me to explain before you possibly begin to judge. I’ve been told the key to a successful marriage is for two people to become one and share everything. Maybe that’s true; but because I’ve never been married, I choose not to even touch on that. Instead, I am referring to committed relationships. While I do believe in opening up, giving in, and compromising when I think I’ve met Mr. Right, I’m not sure I can ever give him all of me. I consider this my 80/20 rule. A recent incident with one of my closest friends only confirmed my belief.

Lisa (let’s call her that for anonymity) was one of the strongest women I knew. She showed little emotion when many of my other friends were wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and she thought rationally most of the time. She understood independence and thrived off of being a woman who had her own. Then she fell in love.

Over a course of four years, love changed her perspective. She started thinking less of her own dreams and began to focus on ‘their’ dreams as a couple. Her man had a child from a previous relationship that she easily treated as if he were her own. She was committed to being the perfect girlfriend, and soon she began to think that independence had no place in their relationship. In her head, they were a team. She gave up her nice New York apartment that was nicely renovated, spacious and offered for a reasonable price to move in with him. His living conditions were not nearly as convenient or spacious as hers, but love is all about sacrifice, right?

She was supportive of his dreams and endeavors, so much so that she neglected many of her own. I could go on and on about how love changed my friend, but I won’t.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. He chose to end the relationship. No warning. It was just over and he moved on to the next girl. Now Lisa, who had given up everything, had nothing.

Love should be without fear. It should be patient…and all of those things it says in 1 Corinthians 13:4. However, I don’t believe that by not giving yourself completely to someone else, you’re necessarily acting out of fear. Or maybe you are. Whatever the case, I still believe that some things should be reserved only for the person you were born with and the person you will die with: yourself.

This doesn’t mean keeping a bunch of secrets from your man, but instead, having something, whether it’s sharing your inner most desires at all times, or practicing spiritual rituals that you do only by yourself and for yourself. It means sharing yourself while still keeping a part of you (financially, emotionally, and physically) to yourself.  Sounds selfish? Maybe so, but I believe giving someone eighty percent of me is generous. I have to allow something for me. That is my twenty percent.

Everyone’s numeric figures will differ if you share the same belief as I do. And also, what you choose to keep for yourself will differ from the next woman as well, but I do believe that before marriage, every woman should consider saving something from herself and refrain from giving it all to a man. Relationships aren’t guaranteed and you don’t want your life to become his because if he later rejects what you have to offer, then you’re left feeling as though you have nothing. It’s really not about keeping things from your man, but instead, preserving something for yourself.








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  • opeb

    Give your 100% love, trust and respect to the one you love while taking care of yourself. You dont have to say that youre not going to give 100% to someone you love, cause you have to. Both should give 100% love. Take care of yourself and love. You dont have to forget your self, friends and relatives cause your giving your 100% to someone. Its just a matter of time management and understanding. Giving right amount of time w/ each other, w/ urself, and w/ others.

  • Troy Eichelberger II

    So you let you one bad incident compromise all future relationships?! Men (we) aren’t stupid we know when your holding back and the more you chose to hold back the less likely he is too give into the relationship .See where this is going?
    These walls and guards people place to protect themselves do nothing but hide who you really are too everyone else, no one sees you no one gets too know you.
    Life is messy and love is life, there will be misses but you do you stop swinging just because you didnt hit a home-run on the first swing?

  • Mr. Brown

    And yet we wonder why Black relationships are failing more in these times than just a generation or two ago?

    Yes, there will be bad examples where the other party did not appreciate the other person giving 100% of themselves, but that is no reason to “hold back”.

    Anyone who buys into the author’s thinking either is a coward who judges from others bad experiences or is someone who has been hurt and is simply scared to give their all again.

    Love with your all. Stop holding back because the only person you truly would be holding back is yourself.

    Relationships nowadays are generally a dance of “I am not going to let this person get the better of me because I don’t want to get hurt”.


    • Troy Eichelberger II


    • SK

      I think any person (male or female) should come into a relationship as an individual and remain somewhat individual. You can “give your all” but you should also think of yourself as your own entity. With that being said, you should never place yourself in the situation in which you’re giving up yourself and your happiness to be with someone. That’s ridiculous. I don’t think the author is wrong but there are multiple interpretations to her message. 80/20 could refer to multiple things in a relationship (the activities you enjoy, music, spirituality etc.). No relationship is perfect just like no two people are alike…and you have to consider that and not try to conform & compromise yourself for someone else. If he/she cares about you, that person wouldn’t ask you to and would respect you.

  • valerie808

    I think you can give 100% to your relationship without losing yourself. Over the course of 4 years it sounds like she just became a shell of the person he fell in love with. Also, I never understand making the kinds of sacrifices and concessions that she made for a “boyfriend,” I don’t care how serious it is. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but maybe in the end she’ll see that that wasn’t who she really was anyway.

  • more

    If your an emotional person than yes agree……….

  • SimplePseudonym

    From the story that was told (which could be missing details), doesn’t seem that the problem was that the woman gave 100%, but more that she sacrificed everything and asked for little in return. She lowered her standard of living and cutoff her dreams for…what? From the way the story is told, doesn’t seem that her man was putting in 100% which is the real problem. What was she getting out of all of this sacrifice besides a boyfriend?

    I think the only way to be in a real relationship is to give 100%…to a person who is giving you 100%. If you’re receiving 70%, then you might want to reconsider that dating arrangement, definitely. Lastly, when it comes to giving up your own dreams to support someone else’s, lowering your standard of living, etc. there should be a lifetime commitment involved. Not wise to trade your long and permanent future for a very temporary present. 2 cents.

    • LoSki87

      I agree.

  • LoSki87

    Your friends mistake was that she made him her everything. “Don’t make someone your everything because when they are gone you will have nothing.” – unknown

    While she could have still given 100% effort in the relationship, that didn’t mean that she had to put her hopes and dreams to the wayside. Your significant other should be just as encouraging and supportive as you are of them. They should take just as much interest and stock into your hopes and aspirations. If they don’t, well IMO that is a red flag. I wouldn’t let heartache get the better of you to the point that it changes an otherwise giving and thoughtful person into a cold heartless one, or changes you to think that giving 100% is a bad thing.

    • Troy Eichelberger II

      your sense is showing

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  • Emsy

    Its a natural tendency of women to give their all in relationships, they want to be the home maker, caregiver, encourager of dreams, the one to compromise for his happiness…women want to give and be it all.
    What a lot of us fail at, is to create and establish that balance where we invest in ourselves as much as we do in the males. Healthy relationships, whether, intimate, familial or just friendly; all require that delicate balance IMO. You cant give a relationship or a person in a relationship more than you give yourself…..tht just should not happen

  • Layla

    I completely agree. When I was married, I gave my all, 100% to my husband, at the time. I stayed devoted when he was in the military, care packages, the whole nine. I loved him so much that I ended up losing sight of myself. I lost myself…in him. Sometimes when we love, we love hard, and that can become your biggest strength but at the same time, your biggest weakness in relationships. When he left me, I was lost, hurt, depressed, all stages of grief. It took me almost 2 years to really get “me” back. What I mean is…..we love so much that we lose ourselves in the men we’re in relationships with. In order to flourish in my new life, I had to get “me” back…my hopes, my education, my aspirations. Now that I have “me” back, and I’m now in a new relationship, I vowed to never lose myself in another man again and continue to thrive in my life by setting personal goals for myself. Lady Gaga said it best..”some women choose to follow men, and some choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”