I know that in many of my relationships, I'm self-serving. Some of these are good gigs. I pay for the service of coming home to clean space. I pay for someone to care for my daughter. These things give me space and time to do other things that matter to me.
In non-paying relationship - let's see...co-workers - I have converstations with them to normalize what I do, and to gain from their experience. I get stress relief, comraderie and shared experiences. I see that they get the same things too. It's self-serving for each of us, but mutually beneficial. We don't have to say "HEY, I"M USING YOU TO FEEL LIKE I CAN HANDLE
In my social network - I have people who also serve my needs. I have spaces I go to because I feel safe there, with them, and have a need to feel that. I'd like to think they let me come, because I serve some kind of need for them, even if it's only humour when I've left!. I have people, who serve my self-awareness needs, who challenge me, who serve my physical needs, my need to feel desired.
Everyone in our life serves a need for us. In most cases, those needs are reciprocated in some fashion or another. Paid for financially, provided mutual help/support/caring/challenge etc.
We each, make deposits and withdrawels from our "needs" bank (I'm reading a book that calls it a "Love Bank" but that phrase does not suit my current purpose). We generally STAY in relationships, when the balance is in the bank is about equal.
I know I have relationships where that balance is not equal. In fact, it is not intended to be equal. I have deliberately communicated that I do not intend to reciprocate in the needs category any more than what I'm prepared to deposit. I've been honest about that.
Does that honesty, if we were to communicate with all our relationships, become brutal honesty?
Moving beyond that, cause my brain is running WAY faster than I can type right now...
At what point do we become aware that the balance is just TOO unequal. That the withdrawels from the needs bank, are tapping us out. That we're constantly looking for a deposit that's not going to come. At what point, do we "cut our losses" from the investment and walk away?