The Rule of Obligation or Rule of Reciprocity says when others do something for us, we should feel a need to return the favor. By ‘evening the score’, so to speak, one is relieved of the ‘obligation’ created by a good deed done for them. In a general sense, one good turn really does deserve another.
Only in childhood is it normal to receive more than is given. With maturity we should become able to maintain more balanced giving/receiving relationships.As an adult to expect another to do for us without reciprocal good turns in some approximately balanced measure is somewhere between impolite, selfish and down right stealing of another’s time, effort and resources.
It does not matter if we ask for help or not. If another person does an uninvited favor for us and we accept it, there is still indebtedness for the receiver. Allowing another to do too much for us while we do too little will lead to an imbalanced relationship and in time, animosity.
When the give and take equilibrium becomes off kilter by one doing much and the other doing much less, both people are in essence controlling the other. One by what they allow to be given to them, the other by what that persons gives. The Rule of Obligation and Reciprocity is then broken and equal discomfort is caused for both parties (or at least should be).
It’s common for me to do too much for those I love and at times become frustrated because my considerations are not returned. Intellectually I know it is often just me “playing to my own needs” of being taken care of. Regardless I end up feeling under loved and in most cases am better off doing less which lowers my expectations. I’m working on that.
I am grateful today for a reminder that I still wrestle with feelings of giving, then feeling bad when the act is not reciprocated or at least acknowledged. The primary responsibility for my feelings belong to one person: ME! It is all my “stuff” to work on. Smiling. I am thankful for the nudge.
You can give without loving,
but you cannot love without giving.