Saturday, August 5, 2017

Reciprocity In Relationships

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?

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