“I did __________ for you.  Why won’t you do ____________ for me.”

Have you ever known someone who does things for you and then says, “Well, I did that for you, so you should do it for me?”

Word to the Wise.

People have a tendency to do (give, etc.) for others what we like to have done for us.  If we like something, of course everyone else should like it too!  Right?  Uh, NOT!  I once had a person in my life who would bring me clothing.  She loved the clothes and always commented that they were ‘huge’ so they should fit me.

  1. They were exactly what she would wear.
  2. They were exactly what I would NEVER wear.
  3. I usually couldn’t get them over my ankle, much less the rest of my body.

I could have responded in any one of several ways (and I’m sure my readers have a few comments they can call to their imaginations).  All of them would have brought me momentary satisfaction, but they would have hurt someone I cared enough to have a relationship with.  However, I tried to remember that she thought she was doing me a big favor, so I said thank you and gave them back as a bad fit.

Why we do it.

It’s a common human failing.  We all do it.  Hopefully, we grow up, wise up, and learn to listen and watch for what other people like.  If we like something, we think others should like it to.  This goes back to the previous communication busters posted here.  1) It’s NOT all about me and 2) My ‘way’ is not the only way or even always the best way for others.  We don’t mean to do it, but we do it none-the-less until we become aware of the issue.  Some of us tend to do it much more than others.

A back pat for the hubs.

I have to give my husband credit.  He is really good at seeing what others like and offering them things, doing things for them, …, that they like.  He doesn’t just do things to get things, he is genuine and a good listener (most of the time).  Me?  I tend to forget, even after asking what someone’s favorite…. is.  I tried writing it down only to lose the lists.  My family understands, but…

Where the rubber meets the road.

When it comes to things, this isn’t really such a big deal.  Where the major problem comes in is when a person does something for another person and then gets angry if the other person doesn’t do it back.  Why?  Because this person gives what he/she would like to have from the other person (sometimes in the hopes that person will do it back).  This could be as simple as a pat on the back or as complicated as trying to get others to love him/her through, well, let’s call a spade a spade:  manipulation.

Example number two.

I had a friend who made a sad face and said ‘awwww’ in a sad voice when there was something going on in my life — a  kind of friendly pity party type thing.  What does it do for me?  Um, get off me!  I don’t like it at all, so guess what?  I don’t do it back, even though I am well aware that’s what this person really needs from me.  Well, I try to do it some because I know it’s needed, but ….

Love Languages

The problem with this, and how it is detrimental to communication, is that it involves speaking different languages.  We all have different ways we show love, and these are the ways we understand love as well.  So when we show our love to someone who speaks a different love language (friendship language, etc.) it is like a person who speaks only English trying to communicate with someone who speaks only Russian.  It really sets the table for a mess of miscommunication.  This idea is not original to me.  Gary Chapman wrote a book or two about it.

Manipulation/Control

The above examples show how people do this inadvertently.  Sometimes, however, a person can become controling and manipulative in their attempt to give love to get love.  It doesn’t work.  The smart person realizes that she will get the love she’s wanted when she learns to speak other love languages besides her own.  This must be geniune, however, or it still falls under manipulation.  The people in this category often lose friends and have no idea why.  They give and give and give with no return, or so they think.  The problem is with their thinking.  In many ways, they tend to be more needy than those that are obvious about it.

Love is…

The thing is that when we care about another person, we want that person to feel our love/like/care.  Misunderstandings are frequent when we don’t tune in to their likes and needs instead of offering them our own.  Real love, real communication happens when we listen to others, understand them, and seek to meet their needs in a genuine way.  It’s not about us.  If they love us back, that’s great, but we shouldn’t ‘love’, ‘care for’, etc., them expecting them to do back what we do to/for them.  When we do for others with expectations of return, we are not really doing for others. We are doing for “me”.

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