Thursday, June 7, 2012

Balancing the Percentages in a Relationship

Photo by Sepehr Ehsani 
I was asked to ponder last night an idea of give-and-take in a relationships and friendships.  The idea was that you should put in 90% and expect back only 10%.  Though it seemed like a reasonable heurisitic for tempering expectations and sense of entitlement in relationships, this didn't quite resonate with my approach to relationships.

I responded that I put in 50% of the effort and I expect to receive back 50%, plus interest.  I added that both of us should.  :)  You bring yourself to any relationship and you hope that you end up with more than you started with, otherwise what's the point?

I'm not talking about a tit-for-tat kind of trade of taking turns making sacrifices.  Rather it's a trade in enjoying the experience of the other person, and sometimes their counsel, and sometimes their help in achieving certain tasks.

It may be worth noting that I don't expect to get back what I put in.  Borrowing concepts of money for a moment, what you get back may not be in the same denomination or even the same currency as what you put in. But the crucial principle is that, over the long term, what you get back should be more personally valuable than what you put in.

In a good "trader" relationship, this is true in both directions simultaneously.  No one is poorer for having been part of it on the long term.  Both people end up "richer" and each should feel lucky-as-hell to have the other person in their life.