I remember my starter relationships. I was determined to be the best girlfriend ever. If there was going to be an award show for girlfriends, I wanted to win the Academy for it. And in hindsight, I probably could have. I’d read every everything on how to be an awesome girlfriend and tried to put it all into action. I’m not saying I was perfect but my intentions were great and I tried really really hard.
However, even though I might have been girlfriend smart, early on, I was relationship stupid about something very fundamental. I gave my then boyfriends the world and what I got in return was exhaustion and emptiness. Back then, I’d always defined and prided myself on being an altruist – someone who got a high from giving to others so I thought that I never wanted anything in return. I considered myself Miss Independent before Kelly Clarkson did and saw needing anything from a man as a sign of weakness so I thought I didn't need anything. And sometimes when little pangs of desire crept in, I thought that if I gave just a little more, he'd notice and I'd get a little something in return to keep me going. But eventually I always found out...
IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY.
A relationship (at least one post the Ward and June Cleaver days) is in part (a very important part) BUILT on equitable give and take. You can’t just be an A+ rockstar girlfriend fulfilling all your man’s needs – you need the same in return. Reciprocation needs to be woven into the fabric of the partnership right from its inception. If it’s not, resentment is cultivated and spreads throughout like a nasty virus It’s hard to cure. Very very hard.
Whether you are in a relationship now or not, you can and should evaluate how you perform as a contributor and a taker in one. It is important to be able to play both roles equally well. Being the most generous partner in the world, unable to receive, can be just as destructive as being an all out taker.
Get out a piece of paper. Down the center, draw a large “T.” On the top left, write “WITHDRAWALS.” On the top right, write, “DEPOSITS.” Using your current or most recent relationship, in the left column mark down everything you do/did for your man – EVERYTHING. The things you love/loved doing to the things you do/did out of love. From listening to him bitch about work to cooking breakfast. Everything. Now on the right side, write down everything your man does/did for you. Be fair here – include everything! Make sure that you don’t fixate on a certain period of time in your relationship where you may have overcompensated, as it is natural for relationships to go through stretches where due to circumstances the scales are tipped seemingly unfairly – for the purposes of the exercise, look at the relationship in its totality.
What you have created is your relationship balance sheet (not to be confused with a score sheet. If you are viewing it as a score sheet, you have already entered the resentment zone). Judging your entries by weight of effort, not by number of entries, do your columns seem relatively balanced? Do you look at the sheet and feel good about it?
If your answer is YES: Your relationship is balanced. Your ROI is very sound. Go home and wrap your loving arms around your man as he wraps his around yours in return. Your relationship stands strong with a foundation of reciprocal respect. You scratch his back, he scratches yours.