Is reciprocity necessary in human relationships? Do we, as humans, need to have equal give and take in order for there to be healthy relationships in our lives? While I have wrestled with this question, my natural behavior is to be giving and generous without expectation in my relationships even if the other person is giving to a much lesser degree or does not give at all. That being said, I must admit that when I have been in relationships where people take, take, take with little giving in return and also take my giving for granted, it causes me to feel a mixture of annoyance, resentment and sadness. I have asked myself why I feel this way if my natural state is to be giving without expectation.
I have determined that it IS a necessary part of healthy relationships to be reciprocal as it shows mutual respect, appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness. When these aspects are low or missing in relationships, it creates a sense of entitlement in the party that is always getting, always receiving but not giving back or giving back to a low degree. It ends up being a one way street. Is that a true relationship?
This is not about expecting the other to return the giving. Not at all. It is a feeling that is engendered in a relationship of mutual respect, appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness that is SHOWN not just said. I believe you've got to show friendship not just say you're a friend. You've got to show love, not just say you love. This mutual exchange in friendships or any other kind of relationship can take many forms: a phone call just to keep in touch, a greeting card for a birthday or other occasion, a kind word, a letter, some kind of help, a flower, a recipe, etc.
I believe that's what a relationship is: a mutual exchange. It doesn't always have to be equal exchange but there must exist a mutual sense of give and take in order for there to be a healthy relationship. Emphasis on the healthy.
As a natural giver, I have and do get tired of friends or relatives that are just takers. It drains me to be always giving in a relationship with no mutual return. If I'm always taking you to dinner and you never take me, is that the making of a good relationship? Should I just keep giving with no expectation of ever being taken out to dinner by my friend? I'm not so sure that's a happy relationship.
I don't demand my family and friends give back to me. It is, however, refreshing when there is a natural and mutual reciprocity that is unspoken and I do believe it comes out of a sense of respect. It's just a great feeling to know that the other person is both thinking of you and has regard for you.
Don't we all like to be highly regarded?