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October 11, 2021

Relationships & Reciprocity: Are we Looking for a Carbon Copy of our Efforts?

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Are You Looking for the Same Effort or a Duplicate of You?

Each person has a unique gift they bring to a relationship.

Relationship safety begins when we allow the other person to love, care, and support us in their own unique way.

After a breakup, we might hear the same adage, “You deserve someone who will love you the same way you did,” or, “If only I can find someone who will put in the same effort I do in a relationship.” Granted, there are one-sided relationships, and they are usually a drain.

However, many of our relationships are perceived to be one-sided, as we are focused on what our partner is not doing rather than what they are doing.

As I was cleaning my fourth toilet for the day (housecleaning is one of my side hustles), the question dawned on me, “Was I looking for effort from him, or was I looking for a carbon copy of my effort?” That is an extremely humbling question if you think about it. Certainly, this is not what one wants to ask themselves, as it forces us to really look deep into our expectations of others. Since I had the 1,200 square foot home all to myself, I took the time to examine my expectations of others.

What would you think if I told you that perhaps your partner is putting in equal effort in the relationship, but they are doing it their way instead of copying you? Oftentimes, we want our partners to do what we are doing in order to validate our efforts. I hit this tar pit in my last relationship, and it did cost me!

I am the type of partner who supports, validates, gives, and gives until I can’t give anymore because I know what it is like to be invisible to those closest to you. I know that pain of doing your best, and not one person notices you because you’re not in the right clique, or because you don’t have the poster-child look they want for their cause. They say that when you face enough rejection, you subconsciously sabotage your relationships. Granted, I do that too, but that is another blog for another time.

In this last relationship of mine, I made the assumption that I had this handled. I supported him, showed up to his events, even though I couldn’t understand a damn word that was being said. I took interest in his hobbies so he could see that he was completely visible. I would even send cute memes conveying messages of hope, love, and commitment to help validate his significance to me and the relationship.

Naturally, he would show the exact same efforts, right? Wrong! That was not his style, and I did not want to accept that. The problem was that I was expecting him to duplicate my gestures of love and basically be a male version of me. In the end, I completely missed the unique gifts he was trying to bring to the relationship. Disillusionment set in, and then the juggernaut of relationship death went into full motion.

Almost a year after the breakup, I once again see my role in the demise of what could have been a great gift for the both of us. It is too late, and this is a bitter pill I will have to swallow with a nice shot of whiskey for the rest of my life.

However, there is hope for the rest of you. In every relationship, we all have something unique to bring to the table. For me, it is unconditional acceptance, validation, and support. The way in which I bring it is what makes my contribution unique and special. The same goes for our respective partners. Sure, it is both parties’ responsibilities to put in equal effort. But it is not our responsibility to be a carbon copy of each other.

We need to take inventory of what we bring and how we bring it. Then by observing our partner and appreciating their effort, we can see they have their own special way of contributing to the relationship. We all have limitations within our relationships. By projecting our expectations of what effort should look like, we devalue our partner’s efforts.

Tonight as you sit back reflecting on the day, thank your partner for doing their best. Take stock of the strengths they bring to the table. It is in those strengths that their best effort thrives, and that is what we want to focus on.

At the end of the day, they are loving you in the best way they know, according to their conditioning, the constraints created by their traumas, and how they are dealing with their own fears of rejection.

You don’t have to lose the love of your life.





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