What is a Reciprocal Relationship?

The European Journal » What is a Reciprocal Relationship?

When it comes to thinking about relationships, most of us don’t consciously think about reciprocity. When we do sit and think about it, the majority of reactions of those in relationships is that “of course reciprocity in relationships is important!” We recognise that it is a valuable principle to live by in order to maintain a healthy and happy relationship

Reciprocity in relationships is something that cannot be exact, as one person can give a lot more than their partner. Reciprocity and mutual respect are extremely valuable in a relationship, as other halves have various strengths and weaknesses to balance each other out. 

What is a Reciprocal Relationship?

A reciprocal relationship is defined as mutual action between a couple, it is felt, given, or done in return. It can be understood as a silent agreement that bears equally on both parties. A reciprocal relationship shows commitment from both sides and also a willingness to receive, as well as give. In a long term relationship, the balance of giving and receiving should be mutual over time.

Why is Reciprocity in a Relationship so Important?

Reciprocity in a relationship is extremely important as it shows mutual respect and understanding for one another in a relationship. It makes both parties feel equal and heard. It also builds a solid foundation for give and take, which is vital for a relationship to flourish and grow. Reciprocity also allows a basis of trust, which a relationship will be doomed without. 

Those who have experienced toxic relationships or experiences with a narcissist are more alert to reciprocity in a relationship, as they know the dangers of being with someone that constantly manipulates and belittles them. 

How to Identify a Reciprocal Relationship?

There are certain signs that you can identify if you want to know if you are in a reciprocal relationship. If any of these are missing, chances are you may be in a non-reciprocal relationship and you may want to either work on things or leave the relationship altogether. 

1. You aren’t afraid to speak openly and honestly 

In a reciprocal relationship, you should feel safe and open enough to be able to speak your mind with your partner. You should have the ability to talk to them about anything at any time. You shouldn’t feel the need to edit what you are saying in a discussion with your partner out of fear or judgment. You will each have needs and wants are various points of the relationship, and it is important for you both to be able to communicate those desires, and equally receive them with an open mind and heart. 

2. You give each other space 

Quality time in a relationship is great and very necessary, but it can become dangerous when you feel the need to spend every breathing moment with your partner, or you are always wondering what they are doing when you are apart.

This can mean you are entering unhealthy, toxic territory. A healthy, reciprocal relationship understands that you both need to give and receive some space every now and then so you can have the opportunity to nurture your own goals and hobbies.

It also gives you both the opportunity to engage in activities that your other half may not necessarily enjoy or have an interest in. Moreover, if you are constantly together, you won’t have time to appreciate each other. 

3. You trust one another

As mentioned before, a reciprocal relationship is built on mutual trust. Life will throw all sorts of trials and tribulations towards your relationship, and it is important to have that trust for each other so you can successfully weather those storms together. Trust needs to be given and received in order for it to be the bedrock of a strong relationship.

It is built over time through open and honest communication. Receiving and giving trust allows your relationship to be a safe space for you both, and helps build other major relationship foundations such as loyalty, integrity, and confidence in one another. 

4. You’re committed to one another

Reciprocity in a relationship means you will be there for each other through the thick and thin. Tough times are sure to come in a relationship, but the way your partner reacts to those situations really lets you know if you are in a reciprocal relationship, or not.

If you are always understanding and patient with your partner to show how committed you are to them but don’t seem to receive the same from them, then this is a huge sign that you in a non-reciprocal relationship. Commitment doesn’t mean just showing up, it means being supportive and available to one another, even in the really difficult times. 

5. There is an equal amount of give and take 

While it is difficult to give an even amount in your relationship all of the time, it is so important to give and take an adequate amount of care, love, and respect to one another. If one partner is constantly giving more than the other, then resentment can start to build up.

The love you have for your partner should not be a measurable thing, you should contribute as much as you can, and in turn, receive the same back. This is the most important thing in a reciprocal relationship, as it means the needs of both partners are being met.

The lack of reciprocity in a relationship will eventually lead to the breakdown of the love and commitment a couple has built over time. If one party is made to feel less or isn’t getting the same effort that they are putting in, they will most likely walk away, if nothing changes.

Reciprocity in a relationship is one of the simplest things that can completely transform your happiness, satisfaction, and commitment to one other.