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The Importance of Reciprocity in Friendships

Back in May I shared a post all about relationships (click HERE to read it) and within a week it jumped to being my most popular post & has remained one of my top pots ever shared here on Northern Prepster. 

I began that post by saying this:

Relationships are amazing, beautiful and important in life. I'm talking about all relationships; friendships, family, professional, the whole shebang. I believe that a key component to networking in today's society is all about who you know and who knows you. Relationships are critical for our wellbeing. Our whole lives are spent building relationships with one another, it's just in our nature.

In this post, I want to focus on the bolded statement above. Relationships are critical for our wellbeing. Due to the fact that relationships play such a large role in our lives, how healthy and, on the contrary, how unhealthy they are can impact us in more ways than initially imagined. 

All relationships are about give and take. In order for a friendship to work, you have to be there for the other person just as much as you need them there for you. I am a firm believer that the best and strongest relationships and friendships are ones that have reciprocity, you get what you give.

I'd like to consider myself a good friend. I put effort into each and every one, whether that's reaching out to wish them good luck on an exam I know they have coming up, making plans to get coffee or dinner together, or even simply sending them a funny tweet that made me think of them. I try to always be there to lend a shoulder to cry on, a set of ears to listen to a rant, a set of eyes to proofread papers & pick out outfits, and arms open wide for when someone just needs a hug.

Growing up, my mom would always remind me to treat others the way I wanted to treated and to this day I still live by that. While it feels slightly selfish to say that I expect certain things in return, I do desire reciprocity in my relationships with other people. If I'm making an effort to be in their life, I want to know that they're doing the same to have me in their life.

I'm not saying I need grand gestures to know that someone values my friendship but sometimes a little acknowledgement is appreciated.

We all know that I love quotes & words and the other night while I was doing my nightly scroll through Pinterest, I came across a quote that said "someone's effort is a reflection of their interest in you."

If you find yourself always being the one to reach out to make plans, or if you're always there to celebrate their successes but they aren't around to celebrate yours, perhaps that isn't the healthiest relationship in your life, and as much as it hurts to think about, if the effort isn't there, the interest probably isn't either.

Toxic friendships are, unfortunately, no stranger in my life. I do my best to make an effort to keep people in my life but I eventually reach a point where I'll realize that there's no reciprocity in that relationship. I hate giving up on things, especially friendships, but when trying to keep someone in my life that clearly doesn't want to be in it starts to become a burden on me, I've had to learn to walk away.

In my opinion, the best relationships are the ones that don't take a lot of effort to maintain and the ones where it is clear that both individuals value the other and want them in their life.

But I also believe that the best relationships are the ones that don't require daily conversation and seeing each other every single day. Some of my strongest and most valued friendships are with those who I only see several times a year, or whenever I'm home, or even every 5-10 years when you just happen to be in the same city. It all comes down to the reciprocity. If both individuals put effort into the relationship, it doesn't matter how often you talk, as long as the effort is there when you do.

I shared my struggle with anxiety in a post recently (click HERE to read it) and I want to be transparent with you and tell you that a lot of my anxiety stems from one-sided relationships in my life.

I understand and am fully aware that this is something I have control over but it's hard not to feel anxious when someone doesn't return any of your calls or texts even after you've always been there to answer them. Sometimes it's hard when someone tells you all about their life and then when you go to talk about yours, their interest and attention isn't there. Or when it is, it's condescending or uninterested, making you wish you hadn't said anything in the first place. As much as you try not to take it personal when someone backs out on plans only to later find out they were with someone else instead, sometimes that's really hard to do.

Because I am someone who values my relationships and friendships more than anything in my life, I don't think it should come as a shock to anyone that a lot of my energy gets put into maintaining them and when things seem different, I easily get anxious.

With 2020 being right around the corner (no really, it's two days away, this is like game 7 of the world series and 2019 is up to bat and 2020 is on deck) one of my goals is to continue to have reciprocity in my relationships, but to also worry less about friendships that are clearly one-sided and toxic. I have bigger and better things to worry about in my life and worrying about how to keep someone in my life that doesn't want to be there should not be one of those worries.


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