Being the Caring Friend is Not Always Rewarding
For as long as I can remember, I have been the caring friend in my circle. I’m the friend who is always there when you need someone to talk to, who’ll get you out a financial bind, give and send you gifts just because, and drive all over the city and state just to come see you. Basically, I go above and beyond for my friends. I’m a ride-or-die type of person. Once we are in this thing I call friendship, I am in it for the long haul. Nothing will stop me from going out my way to make you happy. However, being the friend who always gives and very seldom receives can be dissatisfying and unfulfilling at times.
Growing up, I was taught that when you give, never expect to receive. With this mind in every day of my life, I don’t think twice about lending a helping hand, especially to my friends. There were so many times I’d given away clothes and shoes, toys, games, and almost gone broke trying to help someone. Yes, I was giving because I cared but really, I was giving because I secretly wanted to receive. I kept giving and giving, hoping one of my “friends” would realize how much I loved them and reciprocate the same kind gestures back to me. But they didn’t. So, I continued to the same notion day after day. There were several times I’d pay for my friends’ food at my own birthday dinner or said “my treat” when I invited them to go somewhere with me just so I wouldn’t have to go by myself. I started to believe my “friends” were taking advantage of my kind heart. Subconsciously, they thought because I always gave, it meant I “had it” and I didn’t need the same care and love handed back to me.
This notion of giving and never receiving is draining. You try to continue to prove your love over and over again to people who don’t know how to give it back to you. Unfortunately, your kindness goes overlooked in spite of how much your friends say they love and appreciate it. You become forgotten about sometimes and your friends neglect to show you that they value you as a friendship.
The logic thing to do when you’re feeling underappreciated as a friend is to get new friends, learn how to say no, or stop giving so much. But it’s not that simple. The moment you push away, say no, or close your giving hearts, your friends start to think you’re “acting funny” or being “selfish” or “not like yourself.” That is even more draining. So, you resort back to your “old ways” to defuse the situation and every time you give again, you become frustrated with friends, which only makes things worse.
Honestly, if you’re the caring friend, there is no way to fix or force your friends to recognize the love you give. They have to want to do the same for you. Until they realize how to give, things will not change. You have to stop buying their love and constantly trying to prove how ride-or-die you are. Let your friends prove it to you.
On the other hand, for the people who notice a particular friend gives way more than you do, show them a little appreciation. Don’t always be on the receiving end. Be a giver for once. No, you don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of things. Small gestures go a long way. Remind them that they don’t have to be the person who gives so much.
Friendship should be a two-way street. One person should not be giving 90% of the time, while the other is only giving 10%. When both sides understand this, being the caring friend will always be rewarding.