When you put effort into maintaining a friendship and it’s not reciprocated, it can be frustrating. You might feel unappreciated or undervalued. It’s important to remember that friendships are a two-way street.
If you feel like you’re always the one putting in the work, it might be time to reassess the situation. A healthy friendship should involve giving and taking. Both parties should feel like they’re being heard and valued.
If that’s not the case, it might be time to move on or not. Only you can decide how bad it makes you feel and whether it’s worth trying to fix. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to only invest your time and energy into relationships that are supportive and beneficial.
What to do about a friend who doesn’t reciprocate:
1- Put them to the test:
Making friends is easy enough, but sometimes it seems like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get them to reciprocate your efforts. If you’re in this situation, don’t despair; there are ways to get your friend to start making an effort, too.
And, if it still doesn’t work then it will be up to you to cut your losses short and let them go! But before that one thing you can do is simply stop calling or texting them first. Just don’t reach out to them and see if they look for you first. This could sound silly but there are more friends that failed this test than you’d want to believe.
Sometimes, we don’t see it but we’re the only ones keeping a friendship alive. Because the moment you stop reaching out, weeks and months or years will go by before your friend takes one step toward you. This can be heartbreaking but it’s worth testing your loved close friends and seeing how much they care. So, wait for them to call you or reach out in some way first.
This will also send a message that you’re not going to keep chasing after them, and they’ll likely start making more of an effort to stay in touch. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they’ll never care and if that’s the case, then so be it. At least you tried.
2- Communicate your feelings to them:
Let’s say you have tried to test your friend and they ended up reaching out first, but you’re still unhappy with how long it took them to do that. Maybe it took them a lot longer than you expected to miss you or want to look for you. If you decide to keep them around, it will probably be wiser to have a chat with them about how you feel, in this case.
Everyone wants to have friends that reciprocate their efforts. It’s only natural. You put the work in, you should get something back, right? Well, tell them that or explain why it will make you feel sad that they don’t care at least.
The best way to ensure that your friend is reciprocating your efforts is to have an open conversation about it. Talk about what you need from the friendship and why it’s important to you. Listen to what your friend has to say in return. Perhaps they have a different view of what a friend should be or maybe they’re going through a tough time and can’t give as much right now.
Whatever the case may be, communication is key. By being open and honest with each other, you can make sure that both of your needs are being met in the friendship. Also, try to express your expectations upfront. If you’re expecting your friend to call you once a week, or meet up with you for coffee every other week, let them know. This way, they’ll know what you expect from the friendship and can decide whether or not they’re able to commit.
3- Consider that you might be the one at fault:
Sometimes it’s not that easy to get through to someone about how their personality or perception of a concept like friendship and how it doesn’t match ours. People are complex creatures with their own individual needs and wants. And, we all have different philosophies of life or ideas and perceptions of different concepts.
So try to be understanding and flexible. Life gets busy, and sometimes friends have to take a back seat for a while. If your friend is going through a tough time, or just doesn’t have much free time, try to be understanding. Instead of getting upset that they’re not meeting your expectations, be flexible and give them some space.
Also, try to ask yourself if you’re not being the one that’s too demanding or that has such high expectations from your friend. Does your friend make time for you? Do they share their private matters with you and show that they care to some extent about the friendship? Are you not just hurt that you got them a more expensive gift for their birthday than the one they got you for yours?
Sometimes, it’s us who are in the wrong so try to put yourself in your friend’s shoes and assess the situation from different angles, before deciding that they have wronged you. If you’re just hurt about the fact that you think you’re putting in a lot more work than they are in the relationship, then nobody is forcing you to keep that up.
If giving so much to others and receiving so little in return is an actual personality trait of yours that upsets you, then check these few things you can do about it.
4- If you tried all, then you can consider cutting them off:
It’s not hard to make a friend reciprocate your efforts if they truly care and didn’t realize they were hurting your feelings with their negligence. But sometimes people truly don’t care enough, sadly.
And in this case, no amount of work, sweat, and tears will make your friend meet you halfway. If you feel like someone is taking advantage of your friendship, you can choose to confront them about it or simply walk away.
You can try the tips listed earlier first then you can try going out of your way to make them feel special one last time and see if they return the favor. If they don’t, it’s probably best to cut them off. They’re not worth your time and energy if they can’t be bothered to reciprocate your efforts. Making friends should be a two-way street, not a one-way street.