In a healthy friendship, both people give, and both people receive.
At times one person might be doing most of the giving or receiving, but over time, it should average out.
Or to put it another way: In a normal healthy friendship, sometimes you support your friend, and sometimes your friend supports you. If you are always supporting your friend and they never support you (or vice versa), that should raise a red flag.
Now, sometimes doing 100% of the giving is the right thing to do – for instance, maybe your friend is in a crisis and they can't give back yet.
But usually, if you are doing all of the giving, then it signifies a problem. This is especially true if the one-sided giving lasts for a long period of time.
In that case, I would step back and take stock of the relationship. Is it possible that the other person is taking advantage of you?
It's likely you are being taken advantage of if you feel like the other person guilts you into giving, or if the other person never does any work to improve their own situation.
It's also possible that you might be more comfortable in the giving role, and you are resistant to receiving. This is especially likely if you are in the giving role in almost all of your close relationships.
You might wonder why someone would feel more comfortable in the giving role (after all, it's more work.) Simple: when you are the giver, you are the one with the power. You don't have to be dependent or vulnerable; instead, the other person is dependent on you.
I used to be like that.
Early in life, I thought, “I don't know if people will want me, but if I can make them need me, then they will stick around.” So I worked to make myself indispensable to others. I offered support, encouragement, advice – and I never asked for anything in return.
The problem? The resulting relationships were shallow and unfulfilling.
I knew a lot about the other person, but they didn't know much about me. They could always call me when they needed a friend, but when I was having a hard time I suffered through it alone.
Eventually, I realized that I was being foolish, and I started opening up to my friends.
I started showing them the real me, started sharing my struggles, my dreams, my quirks. And you know what? They accepted me just as I was. I didn't need to be needed to be wanted.
And neither do you. So if you find that your relationships are mostly one-way, start sharing the real you with your friends. I think you'll be glad you did.