“What have you done for me, lately?” How many times have you rhetorically asked or been asked that question? I cannot recall the number of times I have asked this question nor can I remember how many I have been asked this question. But, it is a question that seems to be constantly on many people’s minds that are in any relationship when things are not going the way they think they should or when things seem one-sided.
Did you ask the question in a fit of anger after you’d done a lot for the person in question? I know that I have asked that question and been asked that question in anger because either I was not giving all I could give in the relationship, or I felt like the relationship was one-sided. Was it because they seemed to always take without giving back? Or, was it because the relationship did not seem to be reciprocal?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then you have been right where I have been in the past, and you and I will probably get there again in the future. The question, in itself, is not wrong, but when we ask it, we open ourselves to be attacked because it calls the other person’s motives into question. And, it also shows a level of pettiness on our part. It is as if we are giving to get something in return. And, nine times out of ten, getting something in return is not the reason we give of our time, effort, and energy in a relationship; we give because we want that person to know we genuinely love and care about them.
If my Mother expected something in return for every time she did MY laundry, fed MY dogs, wiped MY butt as a baby, or every time she took the time to make sure my needs were met, I would be paying her back for the next 200 years. All I can say to my Mother is ‘thank you’ and try to do little things occasionally to make up for all she has done for me for the past 48 years.
If my Father expected something in return for every time he took ME hunting or fishing growing up, took ME flying, or every time I found myself in a bind and he helped ME out yet again, I would be paying him back for the next two centuries. All I can say to my Dad, like my Mother, is ‘thank you’ and try to occasionally do things that make his life better because, for the past 48 years, he has done so much for me.
What about those people who are a significant part of our lives? When it comes to asking the question, “what have you done for me, lately?” Does it really matter what they have done? No, because if they matter in your life, you honestly cannot help but do things for them whether it is giving them a shoulder to lean when they are having a bad day or just easing their mind when they are overwhelmed. Just because we do not see what someone has done for us does not mean they are not contributing an equal share to the relationship.
Sometimes, relationships are seemingly one-sided because that is the nature of life. But, if you are always questioning what the other person has done for you; you really need to consider if that relationship is worth continuing because there will always be that nagging thought, “do they care?” or “am I being used?” No one wants to feel like they are in a one-sided relationship; especially one they have put their heart and soul.
Is it selfish to ask that question? At times, yes, it is definitely selfish to ask that question. Why? Because people are not at the same place in life that you might be and they may not be mentally, emotionally, or financially able to contribute anything to the relationship, but when their circumstances change and whatever issues are behind them, they may positively add to their side of the relationship.
So, how do you know the difference between not caring and being unable to contribute mentally or emotionally to a relationship’s well-being? If you are like me, you will never know until the other person shows you how much they care. Whether it is a thank you note or a loving kiss or just some reminder from them that you matter, you will never know if what you have done is really important to them. On the other hand, they will never know for sure that you really care about them either. You must show them daily that they matter because relationships are a two-way street and like good writing, it takes showing not telling.
Do you show them that they matter? Or, is it only lip service?
Let me know what you think about what it takes to make a relationship a reciprocal affair. And, to all of those people who enrich my life and make it better because of your presence in it, thank you.
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