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Reciprocal Relationships + the Previously Exploited

Relationships tend to begin in one of two ways. One person leads with the giving + the other leads with the receiving. And in balanced relationships those roles begin to shift back + forth.

Balance in relationships can look all sorts of ways because everyone has different currencies.

The hope is we each want FOR EACHOTHER what we have or want for ourselves.

Stay close to people who want more FOR you.

You’ll notice the people who feed you. Who are consistent with you. Who truly value you + what you bring to the relationship… and who really celebrate your growth, your wins + your dreams. It can be hard to see who isn’t doing those things within the relationship while we’re so busy doing those things for them.

Many givers lead with giving. And takers are champs at receiving. But when givers stop giving, do the receivers step up + redistribute that energy or does the exchange just stop?

It can be hard for people who come from histories of exploitation + complex trauma to build quality relationships where we feel practiced to initiate boundary setting + self advocacy. There are many ways we might perceive the beginnings of our connections. Often, we show up our authentic kind + sharing selves + due to the years we spent in disrupted power dynamics involving hunger, lacking resources, fears of instability, etc, we may begin to over give as a trauma response unconsciously believing that accommodating someone else's needs is urgent without considering if the investment is reciprocal.

It can de a dangerous default setting for the previously exploited due to limited resources of tangibles, "spoons", health in ones body or frame of mind, on + on... But above all, often the previously exploited have struggled with feeling truly welcome + accepted in relationships we can trust, therefore rocking the boat with self advocacy risks alienation. So we might get smaller + communicate less needs or wants in a belief that eventually the energy will shift + the relationship will find a better balance in time.

In the meantime, when we lead with the projection of our own good heart it can saturate the space with our investment, given we set the tone + we may miss signs that someone is operating from a space of wanting or taking more from us without care of wanting the bare minimum for us, let alone more.

Im not saying we should give to receive, I AM saying it matters that we are in reciprocal relationships where both individuals give + receive. Otherwise one person is expending all of their energy, resources, stability, etc to prioritize the connection or betterment of another human without replenishment. Eventually the pitcher will be dry + the pantry empty.

For me, its a daily commitment to be aware of investing in my relationships in balance. I spent many years over giving, over loving, over compromising, over understanding, over shrinking in such a way where other peoples priorities, stability, wants or dreams felt urgent + I would shortchange the energy + resources I had left for my own life, finding myself resentful, depleted + often feeling misused or undervalued.

Like most of us GIVERS, I feel confident I lead with always rooting for + investing in helping to build up, support or repair the person in front of me. In my old age, I also step back + observe who wants more from me vs who wants more for me, in return.

Whatever the relationships you find yourself in, regardless of the longevity of them, watch for the Ones who respond to your consistent investment + caring with an eagerness to match your energy more often than they expect you to abandon your comfort, peace of mind or self regulation for them. Those are your people. Hopefully we begin to build more consistently balanced relationships where we all want more for eachother.


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