In order for a relationship to work, each party must put effort into the relationship, and they must appreciate the results. Sometimes, one party has to put more effort in than the other, while in other situations, it's evenly spread. Of course, it can also become a very sick relationship when it's All Take And No Give. This trope comes in two flavors with a middle ground.
In the first variant, the Taker knows the Giver is insecure and wants to feel needed and wanted, so they manipulate and extort the Giver into giving them what they want in exchange for morsels of affection. These relationships are typically led by a domineering Bratty Half-Pint, a more sinister Fantasy-Forbidding Father or Clingy Jealous Girl over an Extreme Doormat.
The other variant is a bit more disturbing. Rather than the Taker being in charge, it's the Giver who is in control. It's not that they're pathologically compelled to generosity, but a deep desire to control and even own the Taker... so they work to make them completely psychologically and physically dependent, and may in fact cripple their ability to do some (or all) things. This is the hallmark of My Beloved Smother, who may impair or retard their child's growth to keep them dependent. If romantic, the Giver may be a Stalker with a Crush or a Yandere who has managed to start a relationship with their target and then proceeded to demolish their self esteem in the guise of "helping" them. Expect them to say "I did it all for you", and justify alienating the Taker from past friends because "They Were Holding You Back." If the Taker should realize this and work up the resolve to break the cycle, the Giver will not be pleased.
The middle ground is akin to The Masochism Tango, both the Giver and the Taker are in a deeply co-dependent relationship they can't break out of. Maybe they're a Sugar Daddy and a shop happy floozy, a parent who can't stand to say "no" and an emotionally needy Spoiled Brat, or an indulgent monarch raising a Royal Brat. In all variations, both participants will be unwilling or unable to leave, change or even identify the relationship.
Expect the Giver to say a variation of "I give and I give, and you take and you take" with one of two possible inflections, feigned suffering meant to guilt trip the Taker, or resigned exasperation as they once again give in.
Compare Taking Advantage of Generosity (although that doesn't require a couple). Contrast Ignored Enamored Underling and Unrequited Love in general, which are akin to "All Give And No Take".
Another Monster delves deeper into Tenma and Eva's relationship, when Eva realizes that, despite her being the taker, Tenma was always the stronger one that she depended on for a sense of worth and confidence.
In Spirited Away, we have a case of the second variant with No Face as the Giver and Chihiro as the Taker. In the beginning, No Face helped Chihiro out and Chihiro gratefully accepted his help. But once Chihiro refused to accept one of his gifts after seeing how the other bath patrons were greedily accepting his gifts of gold without question, No Face went a little crazy, ate some people and demanded that Chihiro be brought to him so she could accept his gifts.
Then there's Yubaba and her gigantic baby Boh. She coddles him incessantly and he's spoiled rotten. It takes a Baleful Polymorph into a tiny animal for him to learn manners and "grow up". He gets better.
Code Geass has Lelouch masterfully manipulating Rolo into being a Giver. Poor Rolo thought someone actually liked him. Of course, being both a fake replacement siblingand an assassin ordered to kill Lelouch if he was shown to have his memories regained did not endear him. And once Rolo killed Shirley in cold blood, Lelouch pretty much tried to get rid of him as payback. Until, ironically enough, Rolo saved his life at the cost of his own.
Unsui and Agon of Eyeshield 21 have this undertone to their relationship. Unsui tends to act like a surrogate parent to his brother (it's implied their real parents spoil him), puts his brother's needs before his own, and constantly apologizes for his brother's actions. This is due to Unsui's need to have a purpose after the painful realization that he'll always be a mediocre person without his brother.
Ui and Yui of K-On! play this for laughs. Despite being older, Yui has a child-like dependence on her little sister who acts like a doting mother to her immature sister.
This is what Big BadAjimu of Medaka Box says is the true nature of Medaka and Zenkichi's relationship. Even after Zenkichi's unfailing devotion to her, all out of his love for her, she takes it for granted. Ajimu bluntly states he was not born to serve Medaka. This ultimately proves to have some truth to it when Medaka berates and attacks Zenkichi for not being able to pass the first part of her test given to her possible successors. When Zenkichi confronts her to prove his point, she beats the tar out of him and berates him further to solidify him becoming her enemy just so she wasn't wrong in her assumptions can continue to see value in him.
This also makes her seem even more of a Jerk Ass since when Akune decides to join Zenkichi against Medaka she praises him instead of giving him the same treatment.
Partway through Welcome to the NHK, Satou begins to fear/hallucinate that Misaki may be trying to trick him into a Type 2 relationship. She is.
A type 2 relationship becomes motive for murder in Detective Conan. The "Taker" discovered that the "Giver" was ruining her life so she'd stay dependent forever, and thus murdered the "Giver".
At the beginning of Princess Tutu, Rue and Mytho have a strange relationship where they're both content, but they both "give" things that the other person finds meaningless and "take" something else that's unimportant to the other; Rue might be considered the Taker just because she gets something out of Mytho that he intentionally gives, even if it's not what she really wants. Mytho follows Rue's every whim, but only because he likes being ordered around and "nobody else tells [him] what to do". Rue keeps him around because she wants to be loved, but he's completely incapable of reciprocating, so she just makes him tell her "I love you" and pretends that it's real.
In Death Note, Magnificent BastardLightYagami and his girlfriend/co-conspirator Misa are Type 1; Light is a manipulative Consummate Liar who takes advantage of Misa's mental instability and desperation for support to make her both his most dangerous pawn and his lover - in his defense, though, it wasn't as if she gave him much of a choice. This results in a relationship where Light plays with her life, like everyone else's, while she is gradually consumed by her obsession with him, despite his total lack of affection toward her. It culminates in her death.
A stranger example happens in the Yostuba arc, where Light's Memory Gambit has him working on his own murder investigation under L. During this period, Light is genuinely trying to help, and L gladly accepts his generosity - while trying to get him convicted for murder.
Donald Duck is often the Giver in his relationships with both his girlfriend Daisy and his uncle/employer Scrooge. Even Don Rosa, not generally into flanderization, portrays this pointedly in his "The Magnificent Seven (Minus Four) Caballeros" to contrast it with his relationship with his old friends Panchito Pistoles and José Carioca.
Harley Quinn is like this to her beloved, The Joker. She helps him with all his plans, breaks him out of Arkham over and over again, and always come back to him. Depending on the Writer, The Joker may give her nothing more in return than tolerance, or a bullet to the heart.
Daredevil descended into this at the end of his relationship with Heather Glenn. Still stricken by the death of his ex-lover Elektra, he deliberately let the company Heather had inherited be destroyed to make sure that she would have nothing in her life but him, and thus couldn't leave him.
Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy has Kristoph and Apollo in a variant two relationship. Kristoph is an abusive Giver, controlling every aspect of Apollo's life by providing him with employment, transportation and shelter which Apollo as the Taker can't afford to refuse.
For His Own Sake starts with Keitaro realizing his relationship with Naru and the other residents of the Hinata Inn is like this: he keeps Giving and they Take advantage of his kindness, mistreating him in return. He thusly decides to leave the Inn for his own sake.
Coraline had the Other Mother as a giver, and the previous ghost children (and Coraline, for a bit) as takers. But then again, the relationship could switch around with the Other Mother as the taker, needing love and the souls from the children, who would give it to her unwillingly or unknowingly.
MirrorMask has the dark counterparts to Helena and her mom, the Princess and Queen of Shadows. The princess was all take, a needy and rebellious girl who ran away, stole the mirror mask and started destroying the paper world. The Queen was all give, controlling, smothering, and at one point even brainwashing Helena into acting like a doll daughter. Neil Gaiman may have a thing for this trope.
In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Rotti says this to Amber when she asks him for more surgery. He refuses at first, but one look at her botched face job has him change his mind.
Columbia to Frank in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the end, though, she does finally call him out on his behavior and ultimately refuses to cooperate with him in the film's climax.
Lifetime Movies often portray marriage that way with a selfish, abusive and ungrateful husband and a loving, faithful, ever-suffering wife who just endures the selfishness and Jerkassery of her spouse.
In Tangled, Gothel does this to Rapunzel, both the Taker for the hair, and the Giver to keep her helpless and secure.
In Don Jon, both leads are guilty of this in varying degrees. Jon gets better about it; Barbara doesn't.
In Stephen King's The Stand, his own mother calls Larry Underwood a "taker", which comes back to haunt him many times.
To put it in the words of his friend Wayne Stukey, there's "something in [Larry] that's like biting on tinfoil."
Nadine Cross in contrast is a Giver who, in her own words, needs to be needed. She has a breakdown when the nearly feral boy "Joe" she has been protecting suddenly regains his old identity "Leo Rockway" after meeting Mother Abigail. After Larry rejects Nadine in favor of his current love interest Lucy, Nadine does a Face-Heel Turn and goes to the one person she thinks still needs her: Randall Flagg. She realizes far too late that this is a huge mistake.
And another Stephen King example: In It, Eddie and his mother (in the past) and Eddie and his wife (in the book's present) both come off as the second variety, with the woman as the domineering Giver, and Eddie as the Taker who is being controlled.
In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden's idle family live off his success and insult him for it at the same time. An even more explicit version of the second type is railroad executive James Taggart's marriage to Cherryl Brooks; his lifting her out of her life as a dime-store worker left her as a Fish out of Water unable to cope in her husband's social circle and dependent on him for everything — and that's just what he wanted. Cherryl Goes Mad From The Revelation when she realizes this; James does the same when he can't hide from his motivation any longer.
In one lesser-known story by German author Janosch about a donkey falling in love with an owl. (With the donkey being the giver, and the owl being the taker.) Does he want to suggest that men in love should act like that?! Now that's a Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
In Song of Solomon, both Hagar and Ruth would do anything for Milkman, needing him to keep on living. Milkman never cared for them apart from what they could give him. Also, Macon Jr. provided the family's income, keeping the family in luxury and completely dependent on him.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there's the implication that Ginny's relationship with Tom Riddle was the second variant, obviously with Riddle as the manipulative Giver of his companionship and Ginny as the controlled Taker. Of course, it goes the other way as well. As Ginny eagerly poured out her heart and soul to Tom Riddle, he fed off of it to the point where he had sucked nearly all of the life out of her.
In The Four Loves, he cites Mrs. Fidget, whose endless housework on behalf of her family left them miserable, and how some women live their lives up to the verge of old age in endless service to a maternal vampire.
In The Great Divorce, one damned soul is a woman who wants to give everything to her son as long as he's under her control, and another damned soul is not happy as long as his wife could be happy without him.
In The Screwtape Letters, the last letter, after Wormwood's failure, is addressed in the most affectionate terms, looking forward to devouring him.
In Till We Have Faces, Orual wants Psyche to be happy — as long as Orual and only Orual is the one to make her happy. Otherwise, she must be made miserable.
The Last Battle has Shift and Puzzle. The narrator sums it up at the very beginning of the book: "At least they both said they were friends, but from the way things went on you might have thought Puzzle was more like Shift's servant than his friend."
The Expanded Universe for Star Wars reveals this to be the case for the H'nemthe species, as covered in passing in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Due to the fact that there are 20 males for every female of the species, males literally give their females everything. Up to and including their lives: H'nemthe females have elongated, razor-sharp tongues that they use to eviscerate the males after sex, whereupon they devour the corpse. Virgin females are vegetarians up until they lose their virginity — whereupon they also lose their "vegetarian virginity" as well.
Despite being best friends, Lana and Chloe's relationship is very one-sided. For eight years, Chloe has always been the giver and the best Lana did is to blame her when something goes wrong and/or break her heart with her relationship with Clark.
In season eight, Chloe and Davis Bloome, more or less, but this time it is Chloe who insists on giving.
In the second season of True Blood, the maenad Maryann functions as the giver to the alcoholic, emotionally fragile Tara. She invites Tara to live in her mansion where she's pampered around the clock, under the guise of trying to help the girl turn her life around. In reality, Maryann is trying to drive a wedge between Tara and her abusive mother so that she can control Tara's life herself, feeding off her anguish and rage.
In one episode, Jerry refers to himself as a Taker and another character as a Giver, and argues that a relationship between a Giver and Taker is the ideal.
Kramer and George are both all take and no give in most episodes.
Al Bundy's family is like this on Married... with Children, doing very little to contribute to the household and whining whenever they don't get their way. Peggy is the worst one. Whereas the kids eventually get jobs and start paying their own way, what she contributes to the relationship is questionable, given that she refuses to get a job, cook or clean the house, and constantly spends Al's money on useless junk and Bon Bons. Peg justifies this by claiming that she does serve a function: boosting Al's ego as the sole breadwinner. How much Peg is right is up to debate, but an early episode did have Peg get a job. Al became almost as miserable as Peg was because he actually liked having her around and he enjoyed complaining about her freeloading.
House and Wilson are almost a subversion of this, since their relationship, while strange and disturbing, actually seems to work for both of them - House's selfishness has prevented him from having any other friends, and while Wilson keeps embracing vulnerable people and nursing them towards health and self-confidence, he invariably loses all interest in them once they no longer need him to take care of them. The only person who could put up with the ultimate Giver in the long run is the ultimate Taker, and vice versa.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Spike and Buffy's "relationship" in season 6, with Buffy as Taker and Spike as Giver. They seem caught between the two types - he puts up with truly ridiculous amounts of abuse from her due to obsessive love, yet is constantly trying to drag her into the darkness. This may be Laser-Guided Karma for Spike's earlier relationship with Harmony, whose final speech to him is roughly "I thought if I gave and gave and gave you'd come around. Maybe be a little nicer, instead of treating me like your dog. But then I realized you're the dog."
On The Sarah Silverman Program Sarah is The "Taker" to her Sister, Laura. Sarah refuses to work. All her money and her apartment is provided to her by her sister, for which Laura receives zero gratitude.
Fans of Gossip Girl often complain about how Nate and Chuck's friendship is like this, ironically with Nate being the taker and Chuck the giver. Chuck will always bend over backwards to help Nate while Nate had to be forced by Blair to help get Chuck off the barstool and attend his father's funeral. And that's still one of Nate's best displays of friendship. Nate is also the Taker to Blair's Giver when they're together.
On Veronica Mars, the title character often slips into this, particularly with respect to her friend Wallace. Veronica falls into the Type 1 version, as the "Taker", with Wallace being the "Giver." It gets to the point where she gets rightfully called out on it.
Pretty much the relationship between the Winchesters and Castiel, from Supernatural, with the latter being the Giver. While Cas has done an endless list of things for Sam and Dean (usually at the cost of his own well being), he has not asked something from the Winchesters in return more than twice. However, although he doesn't usually gets as much as a "thanks" in return, what has really been irking some fans is that, on the one time Cas actually needed the Winchesters to support him, they failed to do so. It's arguable that the whole Leviathan business could have been avoided if only Sam and Dean had listened to Cas, instead of turning on him for making a deal with a demon... something the Winchesters themselves do on a daily basis.
The title character from Sherlock and John in the initial stages of their friendship. John is extremely tolerant of Sherlock, who makes no effort to be either easy to live with or particularly accommodating, despite John being willing to kill criminals and put his life on the line for Sherlock's sake. Ultimately averted, however, when Sherlock allows the world to believe he is "a fake genius" and stages his own suicide to safeguard John's and their other friends' lives. John himself doesn't seem to believe this of their relationship, as stated by him during his graveyard spiel following Sherlock's supposed death: "I was so alone, and I owe youso much." Understandable, as the very first episode hints that John sorely misses the thrill and danger of war, and that helping Sherlock with his cases gives him a sense of purpose and allows him to experience the excitement he craves.
Many fans have accused Nina and Fabian's relationship to be like this, with Fabian putting in much more of the effort AND doing many dangerous things for Nina and sometimes not even getting so much of a thank you in return. Eventually averted, however, with Nina putting on the mask of Anubis, willing to go to the Egyptian afterlife to spare her friends and her Grandmother from being cursed any longer.
Amber and Alfie's relationship in the beginning of season 2 was also like this.
Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is a Taker with his friends being the Givers, expecting others to succumb to his every whim, from what they eat each day to driving him around no matter how it might inconvenience others, and only does things for others when he literally has no other choice. On the other hand, he does have his Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, such as loaning Penny money on very generous terms knowing he'll likely never get it back; hiring Raj as an assistant so he could remain in the country when his research grant (and his visa) were cancelled; and saving Leonard's life from the rocket fuel accident that destroyed the elevator (and protecting Leonard's reputation by lying to the landlord, police, and Homeland Security about the exact circumstances). He also recommended Leonard for the North Sea research trip when it was in no way to his benefit (either professionally or personally) to do so.
Although we never meet Rick's parents (who are explicitly stated to be upper-class conservatives) on The Young Ones, he is strongly implied to have this kind of relationship with them. At one point, Vyvyan describes Rick as "the classic example of an only child".
The Barone family are a seemingly dysfunctional example of this dynamic in Everybody Loves Raymond. Matriarch Marie Barone controls her adult family by seemingly eternal giving - of food, comforts, domestic help - which serves to keep her husband and sons as dependent man-children who are forever bound to her in a web of obligation. She also uses her giving streak to minimise and diminish her two daughters-in-law. But neither her husband nor her sons can resist taking.
In Coronation Street, Mavis Riley and Derek Wilton's on-and-off relationship is like this, where Derek is the taker and Mavis is the giver. It seems to be a middle ground, where Derek is obliviously taking Mavis for granted and Mavis feels compelled to help him because she keeps fooling herself into thinking he'll change.
Burt Bacharach's theme Alfie from the film(s) of the same name has the lines "What's it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie? Are we meant to take more than we give?" Depending on how it is performed, the song can be from the perspective of a character who is a Giver to Alfie's Taker, or, if sung from a narrative perspective instead of a character perspective, can be a comment on Alfie's Taker personality in general.
The narrator of "Let Me Be Your Armor" by Assemblage 23 is a very possessive Giver.
"Grenade" by Bruno Mars specifically mentions this trope:
Easy come, easy go - that's just how you live
Oh, take, take, take it all but you never give.
"Manchild" by Eels is an interesting example: the Taker in question is clearly depressed about her life, and there's nothing the Giver can do to completely help her despite all attempts to do so - therefore, she's is the one who thinks about the Giver as a Taker.
And every time you crave for me, I'm here.
And anything you hunger for, I'll share.
And I will be quietly standing by, while slowly I am dying inside.
Elly Patterson of For Better or for Worse is an interesting example. She considers herself to be the victim of the first variant, slaving away for an unappreciative family who never offer any help or support whatsoever to their poor, put-upon mother. However, it's just as easy to view her as a self-absorbed shrew with a martyr complex who wants to 'own the horses' by manipulating her children and raising them to remain hopelessly reliant on her or an Elly-approved spouse.
It doesn't help the writer's reboot makes the husband an over-the-top horrible man (who was based on her Real Life husband before that relationship went sour).
Carol, the secretary to Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss, concocted a strategy of doing every little thing for him, thus training him to be (even more) incapable of doing anything for himself.
Roxanne of Candorville expects Lemont to bend entirely to her will, with no sense of compromise. There are indications that this is how she handles any relationship, sexual or otherwise.
In the .hack//G.U. trilogy, Sakaki is revealed to be the "controlling giver" type towards Atoli when he crosses the Moral Event Horizon. He even delivers the classic line of accusing his victim of being "all take" and twists the knife in her low self-worth to convince her to only rely on him for emotional support. To put this in perspective, he got his hooks into the poor girl when he met her on a suicide website! What a creep!
Howard and Angelica's relationship functions as an all give and no take relationship in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. Angelica asks for things on a whim, and Howard goes to great lengths to fulfill them. They truly love each other, but all gestures of affection seem to flow in one direction.
Sekai and Setsuna of School Days have this type of relationship, with Setsuna as the Giver and Sekai as the Taker. It isn't bad-intentioned on Sekai's part and she truly does see Setsuna as her best friend, but she also completely fails to consider Setsuna's feelings regarding her actions (like taking the guy she had a crush on). It's largely Setsuna's fault as well, though; her only concern in life seems to be Sekai's happiness, and she is willing to steamroll over anyone and anything she has to in order to achieve this. The best examples of this are the lengths she goes to to keep Kotonoha away from Makoto even after learning that Sekai had lied to her about them previously breaking up, and when she offers Makoto the chance to have sex with her if he promises to stay faithful to Sekai afterwards.
Fuzzy from Sam and Fuzzy is this on a platonic level, being incredibly demanding of everyone and practically only capable of giving back when a gun's held to his head. Sam is about the only person who can tolerate him for long and their Heterosexual Life-Partners outfit has been strained to the breaking point several times, often due to Fuzzy being unwilling to compromise.
The Nostalgia Chick and Nella. Not even the latter dying and turning evil is enough to make the Chick learn her lesson about treating her better. Subverted in that The Chick actually pays Nella to put up with her.
Ask That Guy with the Glasses and his narrator. The narrator puts up with all of Ask That Guy's batshittery and evil with little complaint, and can't even get him to look him in the eyes during sex in return.
In South Park, this is the relationship Eric Cartman and his mother have.
And it works both ways, according to "Tsst!" - Cartman gets spoiled rotten, while his mother has a ready-made companion to do stuff she enjoys. A fact that Cartman twists to his advantage at every opportunity.
Bloo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is not above taking extreme advantage of Wilt's generosity, to the point where Bloo makes him sleep on the floor and let Bloo sleep in his bed.
King K.Rool: It's great to be a king. I seem to have a knack for taking everything I want and giving nothing back!
Mr. Burns is like this to Smithers on The Simpsons, much of the time. On the other hand, Smithers doesn't seem to mind, since he has an almost pathological need to serve Burns. When his boss fired him, he quickly became a drunken wreck, spending his days drinking cheap Scotch and watching Comedy Central. When Homer accidentally crippled Burns by pushing him out of a third-story window, forcing him to be waited on hand and foot by Smithers, Smithers sent the Simpsons a very large basket of fruit as thanks.
Dodie Bishop is this in As Told by Ginger. She's meant to be Ginger's best friend, but she constantly demonstrates she will stomp all over Ginger's feelings in her quest for popularity, a boy she likes, or getting to go to a party. Yet when Ginger's plans don't suit her, she throws an overdramatic fit and complains about what a bad friend she is.
Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants does this concerning stealing Spongebob's money and the toy he paid for. When Spongebob tries to protest, Patrick just says meanly "Have you learning nothing from sharing?" His remark meant that he believed sharing meant that Spongebob pays for everything and Patrick takes everything.
Batman: The Animated Series: Any relationship with Harley Quinn, where she will be The Giver. She invokes this trope being the lover of The Joker and Poison Ivy's friend. Justified because those two are The Sociopaths and can only be The takers. The truly disturbing thing about Harley is that she looks for this type of relationship (The Joker and Poison Ivy maybe could like Harley, but as The Sociopaths, they cannot truly care about her. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker we see that Harley has this type of relationship with her granddaughters.
This is disturbingly common in relationships between caretakers and their wards. The ward is usually disabled or incapacitated in one way or another and therefore dependent on their caretaker for one or more basic needs. This simultaneously gives the caretaker greater ability to abuse and control their ward and get away with it by taking advantage of the ward's inability or limited ability to get help by preventing them from doing so. Also, because caretakers, especially if the ward is elderly or developmentally disabled, are already seen as saintlike for caring for someone who has a strike against them for being seen as a burden, they are less under suspect as likely to be abusing them. Abuse is also most enabled and facilitated if the ward is a child or, if they are an adult, under a conservatorship or guardianship in which the caretaker is their conservator or guardian because then the caretaker therefore has legal jurisdiction to do almost anything they like to their ward, from isolating them to institutionalizing them. It is so common that the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence has published a specialized "control wheel" specifically about power and control tactics commonly used on persons with disabilities by their caretakers.
This is all too often the result of a misunderstanding of the "Master/slave" or "Dominance/submission" portions of the BDSM lifestyle, especially as perceived by those who have not been in such a relationship. It is also exists for real in the BDSM community to the point where older members caution newbies against it.
Babies are incapable of being anything other than the Taker. This changes when they grow up, sometimes.
Many friendships and relationships end up like this, as mentioned in the introduction. Usually ending up in a estrangement, break up, "not being friends anymore" or divorce. It never works long term.
This is pretty much the lifestyle of all parasitic animals; indeed, the definition of "parasitism" is "A symbiotic relationship in which one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is generally harmed".