It is a reasonable expectation that relationships that we enter into are two-way, or mutual. In business we provide a service or goods, and in turn we are compensated. The same applies in most of our other relationships, although some are by definition unbalanced, such as parents to minor children.
What happens when adult to adult relationships become unbalanced?
Eventually these one-way relationships will probably fail if the balance is not restored in a reasonably timely manner. Give and take is the name of the game here. After a while we will not stay with a relationship that doesn’t feel fair to us. Friendships, romantic pairings and familial connections are affected by this. Even in marriages, (or maybe especially) when one partner is doing most of the work, it will likely become stressed to the breaking point.
How do you determine if a relationship is one-way?
- Are you always the initiator and the other person the responder? This is a sure sign of a one-way relationship. Back off and see what happens.
- Does someone call you only when they need something from you? Is the content of their conversations always negative, complaining or demanding? Do you always feel emotionally drained after hearing from them? Another one-way relationship you may not have seen coming.
- Does one person in the relationship earn all the money while the other person spends it? Does the earner also seem to end up with a lot of the domestic chores and maybe even having to manage the family finances? Adults share responsibility as well as privilege.
- Are a husband and wife both working full-time jobs but only one is carrying the domestic responsibilities? There is sure to be resentment.
- Does one of you have to do all the emotional connecting while the other remains silent? Or is one of you unable to stop talking and let the other person have a chance to have some air time?
- In a friendship or familial relationship, does one person always “pick up the tab”?
- Does someone have expectations of you that they don’t have of themselves? Will they even shame you or guilt you to try to control you? Definitely one-way.
Only God is unconditional in His love and acceptance. We cannot realistically expect it from others. It is good to examine your own heart. Are you mostly a giver or a taker? How might you work to balance out the relationships in your life?