Giving and receiving isn’t something you need to measure by the millimeter in a relationship, but…
Do you feel that your relationships are well-balanced?
What is affective Reciprocity?
Reciprocity generally consists of giving and receiving.
And when we add the word “affective” we’re talking about affection, fondness, care, and so on in a relationship, which could be a friendship or romantic relationship.
In general, people like to give and receive.
Therefore, when you believe that you obtain a “balanced exchange” in your relationships, you can consider your relationships as reciprocal.
Reciprocity in relationships
The first thing I want to state, is that I’m not going to delve into the topic of “ giving without expecting anything in return.”
You can read more about that in the post (the link is in the title).
In this post I want to focus on being able to identify those unbalanced relationships in which, over time, your self-esteem shrinks creating a false perspective of yourself.
I’ve always valued friendship, a lot.
It’s been a pillar in my life.
I’d take so much care of my friendships, that they even started weighing down on me and stressing me out.
Until, little by little, I noticed I was the only one in the friendship who
cared for it,
searched for the other person,
that was all me.
I fought for my relationships,
but they didn’t value my effort.
And that made me feel bad.
I remember I had a birthday.
I’d prepared a super party and wanted to spend it with my friends.
And after all my effort and dedication,
It turned out that
they all wanted to do something different for that party (my birthday)
which wasn’t at all what I’d planned for “my” party.
That day, I left my own party crying.
And I decided to distance myself from them.
for a time,
I decided to separate myself from those that I’d considered my friends… without even questioning it,
to be a bit more objective
and see who’d reciprocate my effort and who wouldn’t.
It was very painful to realize that most of my friendships weren’t reciprocal.
But it also helped me situate my relationships better.
And it helped me see my place in terms of the type of relationship I had with each person.
Today, I’m still learning, I’m still finding my place, because that can’t be achieved from one day to the next,
it’s a process.
But in that process, I learned something important:
Reciprocal relationships mean that both people take care of the relationship.
Not just one of them.
And that they both “care” by giving and receiving, more or less to the same degree.
That doesn’t mean that they have to do “exactly” the same thing,
nor do you need a list of
“the things that I’ve done for you or the things that you’ve done for me.”
No. None of that.
But you do have to have a feeling and experience in which you give (understanding, listening, love, etc.) and receive when needed.
Sometimes you’ll need it more, so the other person will have to give more, and vice versa.
I often come across people who complain that
“they give a lot and don’t receive much.”
They have even said,
“I give a lot and I don’t get anything.”
What happens when the giving and taking is unbalanced?
That is, when one gives a lot and the other little.
Here you’ll need to consider two different aspects.
1. The other person doesn’t answer
Do you consider that you’re always “available” for that person but that when you need them, you can’t find them?
Or do you want a specific type of affective relationship, but the other person won’t give it to you.
Imagine that you want a friendly relationship with a very busy person and for whom “friendship” isn’t a priority, at least not right now.
Imagine that you have a friendship, and that you’ve fallen in love with that friend, but that person doesn’t feel the same way.
In both cases, there is an imbalance between giving and receiving because you’re looking for something that the other person cannot or does not want to give you.
So, what’s the solution?
Seeking “less” busy relationships who want to make new friends.
Being open to people who are looking for a romantic relationship.
It could also be that you’ve had a friendship for a while but that, over the years, you’ve grown apart, so that reciprocity no longer exists.
In that case, it’d be good to assess the type of relationship you have now and decide
If you’re interested or not
If it brings something to you or not
How you want to maintain it
Or if you want to distance yourself
To do so, you need to value it generally but also “concretely”.
Allow me to explain:
Imagine that you have a friend who likes to go out dancing.
You can have “deep” conversations with her, but you also have a great time dancing.
Or you have a friend who likes to spend the day at the gym,
And you’re lazy, but you decide to share that training time with him.
In this case, reciprocity is limited to a specific area.
You help him with his stretching, and he helps you with the machines…
Do you see?
The important thing is not to confuse this reciprocity on a specific topic,
with hoping that this person “contributes” to you in others.
If you are clear about that, you can enjoy that giving and receiving.
2. You maintain that imbalance out of fear
For example, this can be fear of
- being “abandoned”
So you stick with people who either don’t value you or don’t give you what you need.
But this happens because these fears are usually connected with a negative idea about yourself, such as:
- I’m not worth it
- I’m not enough
- I’m not important
- Nobody wants to be with me
And that’s why you accept things that, if you didn’t have those false beliefs about yourself, you wouldn’t accept.
So, what’s the solution?
On the one hand, you’d need to learn how to set some limits.
And to do some, here’s my free guide:
And on the other hand, you’d need to question those false (negative) beliefs you have about yourself.
How to know if there’s reciprocity in a relationship?
I’m going to give you 5 questions that can help you assess your relationships.
You’ll need to ask these questions for each relationship you want to assess. 1. How do you feel about that relationship?
Here you need to assess whether that giving and receiving is balanced or not.
If it isn’t, you’ll need to identify the areas, situations, or aspects in which there’s some imbalance
2. Can you count on that person when you need them?
Here you can check whether or not that person is present in the relationship.
If you call each other,
If you tell each other about things that interest you,
If there’s an interest on both sides to meet, to share something, etc.
3. Can you count on that person on an affective or emotional level?
Because if you want affective reciprocity, but you’re the only one giving it, then you don’t have it.
Typically, it looks like:
“they only call me when they don’t feel well” or
“they only call me to talk about themselves”.
That’s not reciprocal.
In a romantic relationship that’d be, for example,
Not being able to talk about emotional things, because they treat you as being too “sensitive” or “weepy”
When you want them to respect how you feel or change certain behaviors.
To be reciprocal,
You need to trust that you can both talk about your most intimate or emotional things,
that you respect your tastes and needs,
4. Can you fearlessly talk about what you don’t like?
That’s also very important.
That’s what I was saying before, if you’re in a relationship because of fear, you may need to question some of your false beliefs.
To maintain a friendship or relationship, you have to feel “safe” (trusting that the other person won’t yell or devalue you) when communicating:
what you like
what you don’t like,
what you appreciate
what bothers you
what you want from the relationship
and what you don’t want,
This must be heard, understood, and considered.
And if you ask for it, you’ll also have to give it.
5. Do you shareyourtime, activities, moments…?
Because a lot of people,
say a lot of things
and have very good intentions, but
in the end,
the wind carries their words away.
Some examples of this would be…
– Of course, I want to meet you, (but they never find the moment…)
– Yes, we could go to such and such place together, but I’m too busy… (always)
– Of course, I care about you, but I don’t have 5 free minutes (to go see you, listen to you, spend time with you…)
Don’t fool yourself.
That’s not reciprocity.
And if that’s clear to you, then that’s fine.
You don’t have to leave that person.
But make sure you don’t confuse it with a “reciprocal relationship” because it isn’t.
And if you don’t confuse it, you’ll stop expecting things that they may not be able to or don’t want to give you
and you’ll be able to stop waiting behind a door that won’t open
that way you can start looking for open doors.
And again, a good way to balance your relationships is by setting limits.