Reciprocity: Fact or Fiction?


We all have those friends or acquaintances that ask us for advice, help, and much more.  I’m happy to comply with most requests being a helpful person by nature, but at what point do you ask for something in return?  Do you expect your good deed to “pay it forward” and come back later?  Do you ask them to reciprocate?  Do you receive help or advice and return the favor?

I have always been one to show my appreciation or find a way to return the gesture, but I don’t find much returns in my direction.  This makes me think some people are just takers – they will take anything you offer but rarely, if ever, reciprocate.  In some of the situations I find myself in, I wonder if I should do the same.  Maybe I should start expecting others to do things for me and stop doing for them.  As soon as that thought creeps in my psyche, reality takes over.  I’m simply incapable of being selfish.  So why do I bother pondering the question?

I’m curious how others view reciprocity and if it has a presence in their lives.  Think about the people in your life, whether it be family, friends, coworkers, online acquaintances, or a neighbor.  Do these people do things for you?  Do they help you?  What do you do in return?


3 comments on “Reciprocity: Fact or Fiction?

  1. “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” ~ Robert Frost

  2. There’s a difference between selfish, self absorbed, self centered, and narcissistic. We all have behavioral expectations of others to a varying degree. Disappointment invariably sets in when those we care for tend not to live up to what it is we’d like, or think them capable of.

    Tonight for instance meaning around 10 pm central time, while I was relaxing after working on a car all afternoon my son hinted that he needed to borrow the computer for college course work. And I relented, but begrudgingly with good reason. Instead of doing his homework all afternoon while I was gone working on a car, he instead decided to go play video games until around 5 pm, but he was home doing homework at 6 when I walked in the door to get dinner and relax. And I even made a point to check on him and praise him, but he went into a tirade about not being a baby who needed checked on, then got off the computer even though I assured him he could use it while I cooked dinner. And of course I was then ticked because he went and pouted on the porch and will no doubt later use me as an excuse as to why he didn’t get his work done when he had ample opportunity. And his lurking to overhear someone discussing his behavior is really beyond reprehensible. Makes me feel like a prisoner in my own house.

    But my computer is not in a communal place, it’s in my bedroom, right off the bathroom. And I don’t consider it selfish if someone has unreasonable expectations, or because someone chose to do something else with their time that they considered more important. His actions were self centered and self absorbed and even bordering on narcissistic because he knew he had the computer free this afternoon, and should have done his work then instead of trying to impose on me later in the evening or should have continued working without throwing a temper tantrum when I came home.

    Now where this ties into reciprocity, well, all relationships have expectations that stem from your values and beliefs. I doubt you’ve ever expected a friend to take you on a romantic getaway, but there’s a first time for everything. We only can give so much of ourselves to those we have in our lives. At some point we must put ourselves first. And that’s not selfish; it’s self preservation. If some aren’t putting into a relationship what you seek, then I’m sure someone else will meet the needs you have. After all, we all have needs. The sad reality is, some people we care for are incapable of meeting our needs as they can’t even meet their own- hence the DSM-IV.

    • The self-preservation comment stood out to me. I do agree that we should be careful when choosing whom to invest our time in while negating those lacking reciprocity. This is something I need to learn. When someone is in need it is difficult for me to refuse them, even if the assistance given puts me in a difficult situation. I need to start being comfortable saying no more often.

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