You are giving more than you are getting. You put a lot of time and effort into a relationship and in most cases, it seems like the effort is not matched. It is important that all relationships are balanced. This means that you should only give what the other person is giving. For instance, if your friend calls you, then you should call her the next time. If your friend asks you to go to the movies, then the next time you’re considering the movies you should ask her. If you’re going out to dinner and you ask your friend to go, then you should expect her to reciprocate your offer sometime in the future, and so on. It would be a mistake to continually ask your friends to go out to dinner when they never ask you. It would mean that you were putting more into the relationship than you were getting. It is psychologically unhealthy for you to continue this one-sided relationship dynamic. As I mentioned above, relationships require balance. This applies to both friendships and romantic relationships.
Something else to consider is that you may be choosing the wrong friends. You may be choosing individuals who do not have the same level of interest in friendship that you have. You may be misjudging people. You may think they’re more interested in the friendship than they are.
It’s also possible, as I have discussed above, that in the context of these relationships, you are over- giving your time and effort and this ultimately sabotages the relationship. At this time, you expect people to reciprocate, but they often don’t. The solution is to limit the time and effort you place into relationships. It’s important that you do this to protect yourself from the emotional distress that occurs when you lose a friend.
Please don’t misunderstand and think I’m saying that there is something inherently wrong with you. I’m saying that perhaps there is an issue with the way you interact with people and this dynamic negatively affects your relationships.
The general rule of thumb is to match the time and effort of the other individual in the relationship. If you’re not sure how to proceed and you need more guidance about how to behave in relationships, then consider therapy. The therapist could give you an objective opinion about how you’re interacting with people and guide you about how to change the relationship dynamic.
I think you would be an ideal candidate for therapy because you understand that there may be a problem with the way you interact with people and you’re open to changing it. You recognize that this ongoing dynamic hurts you and you want to change it. For these reasons, I believe therapy would be greatly beneficial for you. If you’d like to search for therapist in your community please search this directory.
Thank you for your question. Please consider writing back to letting me know how you’re doing. I look forward to your followup letter.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on October 31, 2009.