Reciprocity Works But It’s Hard
It’s been true throughout history and it’s still true today…
Reciprocity in human relationship works. The idea is simple:
One person seeks to benefit another through tangible action and eventually experiences a similar return over time. Although the person giving the benefaction isn’t necessarily seeking a return, a return is often given when the relationship is founded upon mutual respect, friendship, and enjoyment.
The foundational idea is that both parties intentionally find ways to benefit one another as relationship grows over the years. If this engagement becomes dominantly one-sided (i.e., one party is the sole recipient of benefaction), it’s likely that the relationship will become fractured, especially if this is a peer to peer friendship.
Life is enhanced when healthy reciprocity exists in our relationships.
The Difficulty of Reciprocity in Our Age
Given our extremely fast pace of life and our propensity to over-commit to individuals in our cultural networks, I find it difficult to be intentionally reciprocal in my relationships. Although I try to make sure I am regularly contributing and benefiting the lives of others I am in relationship with, I am reminded that I fall short in too many lives. I need to pay more attention.
Whenever I receive emails from individuals that only contact me when they need something, I’m reminded of what I may also be doing with others. I need to pay more attention. Here are a few questions I’m working through right now:
- How many people can I realistically invest in intentionally? How many connections does one really need?
- What issues of insecurity do I still have in not being able to say “no” to people’s requests?
- Do I spend enough time creatively thinking of ways to invest well in those I’m in relationship with?
- What matters most at the end of the day and am I relationally sowing into that?
Are there things you do that help you strengthen reciprocity in your relationships?