The Give/Take Ratio

Something that I think a lot about is the amount of giving and taking one does in a friendship or relationship.  It seems weird that I think about it a lot but I do…and more so since I realized narcissism.  All my ponderings have led me to the conclusion that I am wrong.

My give/take ratio is off…way off.  It would be easy to say the reason for an adjustment is because I am an ACoN…and while that is relevant, I have learned this behavior and until recently did not realize that my perception of it is totally wrong.

Most of my failed friendships occurred during my university years.  I had plenty of friendships with normal (emotionally healthy) people and with Ns.  But the ones that decided to drop me as a friend are the normal ones.  I have a pseudo friendship with them now…via Facebook but there is no real friendship with them anymore.  It makes me sad.  I have more clarity as to how I have behaved with them and with that more sadness through the clarity.  The reason the relationship failed was my own narcissism…letting it out after leaving the household of my NM.

I think when I entered university my personality was developing and I behaved more freely…I was myself and I attracted friends who were normal and ones who were not.  And I gave to these friendships.  I gave and I sacrificed for these friendships.  I gave and gave and all was well with these friends.  But then something happened…they didn’t give back and I got frustrated.  I thought how can they be so selfish and not give back when I have been giving so much to this friendship – how could they do that!

And I retaliated in a passive agressive manner.  I did subtle things to show I was pissed off because I didn’t get back.  I said mean sarcastic things.  I am narcissistic.  I was becoming a narcissist.  However slowly, I was developing the very behaviors that I detest today.  And so, who could blame them.  I was no longer their friend.  They dropped me.  And even today a sorry would not heal anything, it would be an act of my own selfishness.

What I realized is that I was chasing after these friends and punishing them for what I thought was my ‘right’ or ‘entitled’ portion of what I could ‘take’ out of the friendship.  If I gave 500 of something I expected to get back 500 of something equivalent.

And that is very wrong.  Very, very wrong.

My perception of my giving is just that.  My perception.  What I thought I was giving was not necessarily perceived as giving by the other person.  And because my perception of what I gave was off, my perception of what I took was also off.  The ratio of my give/take was a factor destroying me and others into adulthood.

Upon realizing this into the early stages of adulthood I adjusted my give/take ratio.  I told myself I would continue to give but a little less and not expect the same in return from my friends.  And this lead to a weird period in my life.  I want to call it something like ‘the narcissism is better controlled but still there and now you are freely allowing people to use you.’  I let myself be used because I decided I shouldn’t expect anything in return from my friends and my narcissism became even more subtle, more sophisticated, escaping the radar of even normal people.  I was something like a narcissist who was also the supply of other narcissists.  Ultimately, I have more Ns in my life however, I have retained the normal friends (only because I played the game well).

After, the period of discovering N came.  I didn’t know what to think anymore about the give/take ratio.  I was at a loss.  It is so natural to give and for me that means to people please especially in the beginning of a new friendship.  But people pleasing is not giving.  So, I am working on this.  Not easy but still working on it.  I don’t even know what the ratio should be or if I should let it exist in my head.  Everything is off.  Way off.

I know that I don’t want to be used anymore.  A majority of my female friends in the last 10 years have used me.  It makes me sick to think about that that I want to adjust the amount I give but that isn’t healthy either nor does that help build good relationships.  All I know right now is that I am wrong.  So the give/take ratio is out of balance for now.


7 thoughts on “The Give/Take Ratio

  1. Introspection can be a bitch can’t it? The awesome part is you’ve reached a new level of self awareness. This is what allows you to come to a place of decision regarding you’re identified behavior pattern. Do you keep it or change it? This is a state of awareness our narcissistic mothers could never reach. You are already successful in my book!


    • It is a bitch! I am now able to see my behaviors in a new light. And yet. It sucks. I struggle because I behaved so badly and have hurt many friends. I don’t know if that is my natural tendency or if it is a tendency that was learned and it can be unlearned. I hope the latter. Thank you for the support and for your blog – it has helped so much. xo


  2. I struggled with this too. I’m not sure that it can be fixed, like an elastic band that has been overstretched and cannot regain its shape. For the last year I’ve been trying a different approach: I ask myself :Do I really want to do this/give this?. This approach seems to be doing the trick, I feel a lot happier and less resentful of people. If you’re doing what you want to do it’s not so much of an issue what you get back or not.


  3. Pingback: Aggression and Passive-Aggression | In Bad Company


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