Relationships and scorecards
“I have given you four gifts on all your last four birthdays, but I got on only two of my birthdays”
“I am the one always calling you. You never call me”
“I have come to your home eight times last year, how many times have you come?”
On the one hand, relationships are all about the give and take, no doubt about that. It is not always, “We give, they take” but “We give and we take too”. Relationships are formed and they survive and thrive when both the people involved feel they are getting something out of it. In each of the relationships we give and take different things.
We give money, time, effort, and emotions to our closest relationships and often for the return of just affection. We don’t seem to mind that. A relationship starts the downward path of deterioration when one of the persons involved starts keeping a scorecard.
“I made all the six calls to you last time. You have never ever made a single call”. It is understandable that we would like to be in the thoughts of others and would like to be called too but the other person may be someone who does not initiate a call. If you call him/her they will willingly spend all the time with you and both of you enjoy the chat. That makes the relationship stronger.
“It is always me coming to your home, you never come”. Yes, it would be great if the other person came to your place. But as long as both of you are enjoying the time spent together, why keep the scorecard?
The relationship will become one-sided and feel exploitative when you are giving all the time and getting nothing out of it. Of course, such abusive relationships are to be kept at a distance.
In a healthy relationship, scorecards are not kept. You are not counting the amount of money you have spent. You do not track the time spent. You do not account for the emotional energy that was consumed. In a healthy relationship, what you give which may be countable gets balanced with what you get which may not be countable. Give because you feel like giving not to balance some score.
Look into your strongest relationships, you will understand the irony. The irony of giving and taking is, in stronger relationships, we give more than take more and we don’t seem to mind it.