Stop Trying So Hard For People Who Don't Care

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annoyed woman

I arranged the Starbucks cups; coffee in one tray, floofy drinks in another.

Each straw was partially unwrapped and inserted into the drink, leaving a perfect white cap over the green.

Each coffee had a stir inserted, though I'd already doctored the drinks with cream and sugar.

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I carried one tray in each hand, like a waitress, and set them down at my desk, where I labeled each cup in Sharpie marker. People came through, grabbed their drinks, and left.

I always felt sort of a letdown, like no one cared I spent so much effort on their coffee. Like it didn't matter that I didn't just make the Starbucks run, I made it pretty.

I shouldn't have tried so hard for people who didn't care. It just leads to expended effort and massive let down when no one notices. If everyone had commented on their heart-dotted i's, their perfect straws, it would have been different. The word "thanks" would have gone a long way.

But when no one notices your efforts, when no one cares how hard you try, it's time to reevaluate how hard you're working.

It's also time to evaluate how the people you're working for think about you.

They might think of you as just another piece of furniture. Or as a workhorse, something that can go and go and go without stopping. Or just a nonentity, which might be the worst of all.

It's not just at work that you might need to stop trying so hard. It might be in your relationships. You always text your so-called bestie.

You're always the one to make the plans, the one to show up, the one who never cancels. She's ready to ditch you for the latest boy that comes along, while you remember to throw her a surprise birthday party. Maybe it's time to stop trying so hard for a person who doesn't care about your effort.

If she cared, she'd text you back. She wouldn't cancel plans for her latest boy-toy. And she, for once, would throw you a surprise birthday party, even if it's just a bunch of friends in a bar. We call that reciprocity. And you deserve it in your relationships.

You deserve to have your hard work acknowledged in ways that are relationship-appropriate. At work, that means a "thanks." For your so-called bestie, that means being a bestie in return. Stop trying so hard for people who don't care.

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This is especially true in relationships. You might be trying too hard to get the attention of someone who doesn't care. I did that when I slept with a guy, then spent three months trying to get him to sleep with me again.

I wore low-cut shirts. I made lascivious jokes. I rocked short skirts and high heels. He didn't care. I was a one-night stand material to him, not girlfriend stuff. He didn't care about my clothes or my come-ons or anything else. It took me forever to stop trying so hard for someone who didn't care. But I finally did.

There's another way you need to stop trying so hard in a relationship. Like I said above, you deserve reciprocity. That means you deserve to get what you put into a relationship. So when you date someone, you deserve to get back what you give.

You deserve the same emotional support you give him when you need it. You deserve the same attention from him that you dole out yourself. If you're in a bar, he shouldn't ditch you for your friends. When you try hard to clean his apartment or do his laundry, he should make an effort to do the equivalent.

That doesn't mean your relationship should be transactional. But it does mean that you should get back the effort you put into it.

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Stop trying so hard for people who don't care. Stop trying for the people at the office who DGF what their coffee looks like or that you dot their i's with hearts. Stop trying for your best friend, who never texts you back and ditches you for her boy toy du jour.

Stop trying so hard to get that guy who just doesn't care. Stop trying so hard for the guy who doesn't act like he loves you back. 

They deserve less than you. And you deserve better.

Alissa Scully has been an author with YourTango since 2014.