How do you get your power back in relationships? Sometimes I feel that it is difficult when people do not reciprocate when you reach out and would like to learn some skills to know when to surrender in these sort of toxic relationships. Thank you. I have built great relationships with some friends, however over the course of the year I feel there are similarities in these friendships that make me feel that a) I am doing something wrong or my expectations are different b) they do not reciprocate that friendship eg: if I take time to wish them on special occasions it isn't reciprocated. I feel that "friendships that are true are reciprocated" and I feel I need to understand when I need to back away so I do not get hurt. I wish the relationships to be two-sided, however it is hard to gage and would like learn to be better at observing these situations. I feel it becomes toxic when it is one-sided as I sort of tend to put people on a high pedestal....hope this makes more sense? Thank you. signed, Reciprocate, age 43
Dear Reciprocate, I understand your frustration in this matter and anytime a person feels that a friendship is one-sided that can be very stressful and draining for sure. Here are some things for you to consider.
1. It is our "expectations" that cause us more stress and strain in relationships than we can imagine. We tend to expect others to be mind readers and to know what we expect and want in return. This is a problem for all involved.
2. Set some boundaries with your current relationships for now. Have a heart to heart talk with one of the closest friends in your life at this time. Before you have this talk please read our article Express and Own Your Feelings and Expectations and Hidden Issues. Use what we suggest in these article and use the "I" statements and tell them how you feel and then explain to them what they can do that would allow you to feel that the friendship is not one-sided. Don't shame them in anyway - just express how you are feeling and ask for what you need in return.
3. If the friend is receptive to what you have said then the friendship will improve over time. If they are not receptive then you must own up to the fact that the friendship is not as strong as you hoped for and then let it go. Let it go in the sense of stop doing things for this person. Stop acknowledging birthdays etc and see what happens in return. Let go of your expectations of them and the friendship.
4. For future friendships, take them much slower. Don't go on the giving end unless you can do so without any expectations in return. Get to know the person and try to learn from them what they would expect out of a good friendship. If there seems to be a fit in what they expect in comparison to what you expect then go forward and work on the friendship. If not then let it fall where it may. No expectations and no disappointments in return.
5. This may be a good time to redefine the word "friendship". A good friend for me is one that has no expectations of me in return. I don't expect them to remember my birthday or special occasions and I don't want them to expect anything like that from me. It all seems like to much pressure and work when there are "unexplained expectations" and someone is bound to be disappointed. What I do want from a friend is support and their ear when I just need to vent or talk about things. I want to be there for them when they need the same. I have defined and explained my needs and they have defined and explained theirs and since there is a match we are able to be friends.
Define what friendship really means to you and then communicate that to anyone that you desire to create a friendship with in the future. If the needs and wants are a match then the friendship will flourish and it will be a two-sided friendship.
Please understand you have free will. This advice is given only in the realmof personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute
for therapy or professional counseling. We wish you well.