Sunday, September 25, 2016

Friendship | Reciprocity

The idea of whether or not friendships should be based on or require reciprocity has been on my mind lately and apparently on the minds of some of my friends as evidenced by this quote from a recent "newsfeed".

“My biggest mistake is thinking that people care for me as much as I do about them.”

As I am prone to do, I spent some time browsing the Internet for perspectives on reciprocity in relationships. Themes that popped up included: spirit of cooperation, understanding of and ability to embrace interdependence (loved that one!), the cost-balance reward, fair exchange, mutual exchange, equity in transactions, investments and mutual benefits. Turns out that actually interacting with each other is important…it matters.  Like so very many things in life showing up is key.

As someone with a more “introverted” than “extroverted” personality type, I am really not wired to be an acquaintance or casual friend. I believe I benefit from a few close friendships and desire to make a significant investment in and act in a manner that I hope will be mutually rewarding.  However, I’ve experienced some of the challenges that may befall our friendships.  Many of these appear to be related to changes that naturally occur throughout our lives.

  • Workplace relationships may not evolve into sustainable personal friendships
  • As we evolve over time our friendships change as well, we either embrace the growth or not
  • Changes in our intimate or partner relationships such as divorce or a new partner can present challenges to our friendships
  • Our mobile lifestyles may create physical distance between us
  • Life status changes such marriage, divorce, children, empty nest, etc., often leave us feeling a loss of our shared experience
  • The use (overuse?) of social media, while it is easy and positive to click on "like" or an emoji, it doesn't seem to constitute  meaningful communication
  • When one of us feels there isn't reciprocity in the relationship, which generally means we feel we are giving more and trying harder, and not receiving enough back
What might we do to support, sustain and grow our friendships?
  • Let's look for fair or mutual exchange over time, rather than keeping score
  • Let's model positive regard and recognize that friendships like all relationships require work and commitment
  • Let's each embrace that the more we give the more we get
  • Let's give and receive self-disclosure, being genuine and unconditional in both
As written about HERE, when we don’t have significant people in our lives, we are challenged to find or satisfy all our other connections.


Photos were all taken by me, please don't use without asking!

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