Author of 'Eat Pray Love' Got Rich But Lost All Her Friends

Love & Learn 7

I don't think there's an author alive who isn't a wee bit jealous of Elizabeth Gilbert, whose memoir Eat, Pray, Love sold, as she herself puts it, "about a bajillion copies." You'd think good fortune like that would cause absolutely nothing but exhilaration, but for Liz, who was played by Julia Roberts in the movie, her good fortune (the operative word being "fortune") meant a lot of heartache too. Because she lost a lot of her friends. Did they all bail on her out of raging jealousy? (I would have. Haha. Jk, Liz.) Nope. It was because once Liz's bank account was overflowing with all that Eat, Pray, Love moola, she began trying to fix everyone. And that didn't go down too well.

In a revealing essay in the Daily Mail, Liz admits that she is a chronic "overgiver," which, she says, isn't quite the same as being generous. Where someone with a generous heart might give and expect zero in return, an "overgiver" gives with the intention of being "petted and feted and praised and loved unconditionally for the rest of time."

Once Liz got rich, she began paying off her friends' credit card bills, their mortgages, and buying them homes, cars, and plane tickets. Sheesh, you'd think her friends would be uber-grateful, and hey, maybe they thought they would be too. But it turned out differently. Instead of petting and feting Liz, they began avoiding her. She writes:

When I lost my friends, it was because I had used the power of giving recklessly on them ... I also accidentally erased years of dignity. Sometimes, by interrupting their life so jarringly, I denied a friend the opportunity to learn their own vital lessons at their own pace. In other words, just when I believed I was operating as a dream facilitator, I was turning into a destiny disruptor. Even worse, sometimes my over-giving left friends feeling shamed and laid bare.

This sounds unbelievable, but I think it's true. In fact, I had something similar happen to me. For years, I rushed in to "rescue" a relative who had chronic drama. I'd call her boss if she was having trouble at work. I paid off her car. I sent her money. I sympathized with every bad boyfriend story (always their fault, never hers!).

And you know what? She began to hate me. It took me a long while to realize that she probably really hated herself. Turning to me every time she had a problem must have, on some level, made her resent me. So she began to sabotage our relationship, probably hoping I'd go away so she'd learn to solve her problems herself. (And I did!)

So next time you feel like rushing in to take over someone's life and make everything right in their world, think twice. Parents especially have a habit of doing this with their kids. Ever notice the more you do for your kids, the more hostile they get? If so, then you might be an overgiver.

Are you an overgiver?


Image via ErikCharlton/Flickr

celebrities, general health, emotional health

7 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

cmjaz cmjaz

I applaud her not only for realizing it, but also for publicly admitting it. I hope it was helpful to her and her friends

Owlto... Owltotemmom

Overgiver is me!

I realized this last year, after a decade of helping a close family member out...

Helping, turned to "overgiving"...

This is a slippery slope at best... However, if you recognize it.. Great.

I applaud the author for her realization, and stating it in a very public way.

It is true, we all have valuable lessons to learn, young and old alike...

If you take that ability away from someone in the name of"love", you are doing more harm than good...

As for my own situation, I took a big step back, and let my family member wait to call on me, on her terms...

I also set some clear boundaries for myself...

I am no longer the rescuer I once was..

And I'm ok with that..:)

PonyC... PonyChaser

It's amazing that more people don't recognize this. I am going through a time of terriffic upheaval in my life because of this exact situation. When I wanted to work through issues on my own, others insisted on stepping in and taking over. It's been several years, and I am finally strong enough to be in a position where I am forcibly taking the reins back - reins that I never wanted to give up in the first place. It's going to be hard. It's scary. But it's also liberating to know that I will succeed on my own.


I'm sad, and also happy, to hear about this regarding Ms. Gilbert. I absolutely loved her memoir; it's one of those books I read every now and again to bring myself back to me. I'm sad that she had to learn the lesson this way, but perhaps, like other struggles in her life, it will open the doors to new and better relationships.

nonmember avatar phoenix

I think the author of this article completely missed the point on why overgiving can ruin friendships...her belief that her friend hating her was a symptom of hating herself is a bit of a giveaway to that.

Control of one's life is a valuable thing, it's what teenagers angst over and what young adults fight for. Good or bad, we are entitled to make our own decisions and be proud of what we earn and make of our lives.

Having someone step in and try and "fix" our lives for us WITHOUT BEING ASKED is humiliating. You are treating them like a child, not like an adult. I had a friend who thought they were helping me by doing this- she'd try and "help" me by attempting to handle my difficulties for me and shut me out of my own life. I hated her for it. It was demeaning to think a friend found me so incapable of running my own life.

You'd think someone who got rich of a entitled tale of going on a spiritual journey and "finding herself" would realize how important it is to let other people do the same thing.

Oh, and blogger lady? Calling someone else's boss to excuse them? Completely out of line and horrible move. Their boss cannot help but be suspicious of what is going on that someone else is calling on their behalf, and they themselves are only going to look worse if they try to excuse themselves.

In short: butting in to other people's lives isn't helping them, it's a polite excuse for your own power trip.

jec72579 jec72579

Phoenix: Agree 100% ! This isn't " Over-giving", but "Power-tripping", and doing it in spite of the people closest to you.

nonmember avatar Inspirational

I think that the rout of being an "over-giver" or over whatever...is the attempt to avoid dealing with your own issues and i guess that that is also what happened to Gilbert..she thought that once she is rich, famous and "self found" she will be eternally happy...but that just didn't happen, so she didn't know what ells to do but be to putt all her energy into the lives of others. I think it happens to many people, it's almost natural & I do admire Gilbert for being so honest about it. we are all humans, we all make mistakes, admitting them is steal very brave in my book.

nonmember avatar Karl

she didn't lose her friends because of "over-giving". She lost her her friends because the friends knew the ACTUAL STORY, and not the Hollywood-ized version. She was a slut who ended up with a skanky user of a new husband. Reference: http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/eat-pray-love-where-are-they-now/

1-7 of 7 comments