Human relationships being an extremely important part of our lives, I have been thinking about the situations in which my relationships are not of the best quality. Lately I have noticed that they have been deteriorating, and this probably has something to do with Covid-19, which by its nature has abruptly interrupted many of our relationships. Even so, I believe the matter goes beyond the pandemic, and since I have no way of knowing whether or not the pandemic is indeed a factor, I have focused on trying to see which are my best relationships and which are the worst, independently of the situations we find ourselves in.

I have noticed that with certain people I have a fluid and relaxed relationship, while with others this does not occur. Leaving aside all that could be explained by affinity or lack thereof, I distinguish that in the best of cases there is a tacit form of complementation that I define as “reciprocity.” Reciprocity is a kind of revolving door where what goes in is quite similar to what comes out. What is given is similar to what is received, and this is the optimal situation as a register. Friendship in general is fed by this register and extends over time the same way.

When what goes in is not proportional to what goes out, reciprocity fails and the register is negative. One feels “used,” little resentments and more or less absurd confrontations take place, things that normally do not happen if the balance between giving and receiving is maintained. It has been curious for me to observe all this in myself and in others. Without having to draw too many conclusions, I can say that reciprocity is important in human relationships because it establishes a certain proportion, a proportion whose disruption brings with it complications. 

I have found it especially useful to note that ideas that are a bit naive, where one only wants to give and receiving is considered “selfish,” are resolved much better when there is equality on both sides, without moral codes that turn into burdens and contradictions. It is also good to clarify that there are times when “giving” is something one simply wants to do, something that does not really require reciprocity but is a very pure act in its essence. Yes, there are certainly these exceptions, but in the non-exceptional world, proportion can maintain an important balance when it comes to relating with others in daily existence.

All these considerations about proportion, balance, etc. have arisen from observing and practicing the principle that says “Things are fine when they move together, not in isolation.” In general I had been seeing this principle in an abstract and generalized way, without fully considering its application in daily life and in my behavior. Even though it was a bit obvious to me that this was the case, I hadn’t been paying attention to my registers of balance, of concomitance in my personal relationships. I think this issue of reciprocity is important in the context of interpersonal relationships and in light of the principle of proportion.

April 15, 2021