"Reciprocity" can be defined as the act of exchanging things (including time, efforts, acts of service & kindness, compassion, well wishes, thoughts.. etc) with others, for the mutual growth and benefit of a relationship.
Reciprocity is central to the healthy growth and development of ALL our relationships, in community and society; be it, a regular or best friendship, intimate relationship, family relationship, roommate relationship, and even our relationship with the earth, our environment and all other forms of nature. Reciprocity, is an important tool in achieving balance and preserving the health of a relationship.
However, many of us do not consciously or intentionally, carry the thought of reciprocity in how we approach the myriad of relationships we may find ourselves in, at any given time. We forget that all healthy relationships involve and/or require some level of giving and taking, between the parties involved, in order to achieve a sense of fairness and balance within them.
Without reciprocity, the entire health of a relationship can become compromised, especially, when one party, knowingly or unknowingly, gets into the habit of taking/receiving, more than giving or vice versa! Consequently, reciprocity requires the ongoing act/practice of being present to, and aware of, the actual giving and/or taking (exchanges) that are constantly being made in our different relationships, on a daily basis, as well as, the giving or taking that has occurred in the past.
In order to reciprocate successfully, one must actively pay close attention to; what you have been receiving, and how you have been receiving, as well as, what you're giving, with special attention to whether or not, you're even giving back anything at all to balance what're you receiving! It is important to note that, taking and receiving are one in the same thing. Two sides of the same coin! If you constantly find yourself on the end of receiving (even if, from your perspective you are not asking for it), it still qualifies as taking. It is important to note that, actively taking or, passively receiving, both count as taking!
If you constantly find yourself on the receiving end of others' generosity, or find that you're constantly simply saying "thank you" for what others are doing for you, without you intentionally holding the thought and space, for what you can also do in return for others, it may be time to re-think your behavior. You may be unintentionally, causing a serious imbalance within a relationship, which may be hurting and depleting the other side(s) involved in the relationship (others).
Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking or receiving, as long as, you're also doing your best, to also intentionally give, (of yourself and efforts), in order to attain a healthy balance. Sometimes, "thank you's" only go so far in showing appreciation, especially, when they are unmatched or unaccompanied by, reciprocal acts and efforts of care, kindness and love, that are being done by the others in relationship.
Problems in relationships are inevitably bound to arise, when one person/party constantly finds themselves more at one end of the spectrum, of the giving and taking process. If one gives more than takes, or vice versa, it eventually hampers the continuation of the relationship. To bring balance to the whole, and keep the relationship alive, well and growing - one must not only receive, but also give. Similarly one must not only give, but also receive.
It may be time to think seriously about reciprocity, and act on it...
...if you find yourself in an intimate relationship, where your partner is always putting in more effort than you, to communicate with you, to see you, to spend quality time with you, to do things for you, and with you, to serve you in the ways they know best how to, without you frequently going out of your way to reciprocate their efforts and acts of love and kindness.
...if your friends are always reaching out to you, doing what they can to show how much they love, think about you, support you & your goals, care for you, or have respect for you, without any form of reciprocation from your end.
- ...if your family members (parents, siblings etc) are always doing their best, to show you, how much they love, care for you, and are invested in your general wellbeing. It may be time for you to ask yourself, how you can reciprocate their acts of love and care? How can you show your parents, siblings and family members that you love them too? Our parents, who mostly show us unconditional love, also deserve our reciprocated efforts of care and love, as well.
...if your roommate/living partner are constantly showing care and concern by, cleaning, purchasing common household items, cooking, sharing food or whatever good things they have to offer with you, without your active reciprocation of efforts, care and concern.
- ...if your have the perspective that the environment and earth exists for you to constantly take from it, without ever thinking about how you can give back to the earth that nourishes you.
It may be imperative that you meditate on the concept of reciprocity, and act on it now, before it is too late! It may already be too late for some of your relationships, where the ship has already sailed, but it is never too late to continue to learn and grow, in order to preserve the health of current and future relationships.
Because, more often than not, when people give till they can give no more/or, you take till the other party in the relationship feels exhausted or depleted, expect that, they will build walls around themselves to preserve their peace and energy, and to protect themselves from further depletion, and conscious/unconscious exploitation.