Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #4 – Reciprocity, entitlement and being bothered by it

I was once friends with a student of medicine. These students have the reputation of getting arrogant during their studies, becoming ‘half-gods in white’. Highly trained skills combined with power over life and death can do that, I suppose. It was certainly true for him. It got so bad in everyday situations that I ended the friendship with him.

But that was nothing compared to the kind of entitlement I noticed in the last friendship I ended.

The lack of balance was one thing. People can feel they are entitled to get more than they give — or they simply think that the amount they give has such a high value that it should be more than enough. A crumb of their gold is worth more than your bucket of lead. After all, you might remember the ten-second conversation you had with that famous person until the end of your life, while the famous person immediately forgets the small talk with that face from the crowd. But a friendship should be between equals — all things being equal, the same actions should have the same value. And I would not want to be ‘friends’ with someone who feels entitled to my friendship.

But what was even worse was that she felt bothered by her entitlement. Not only did she not believe in the norm of reciprocity, the expectation that she would have to reciprocate for what she sought and took bothered her.

Yup. It is one thing to profit by an imbalance. And I had my part in that imbalance. I created it and keep it there. But if someone considers me as a friend and repeatedly tells me so, I would have expected some kind of feedback that my support bothered her — especially even when she asked for it and accepted it. That, while she asked for support and took it, it made her resentful that others would now expect she had to reciprocate and give something back.

Realizing that she felt entitled and felt bothered by it at the same time was the final straw that ended the friendship. I have received a couple of metaphorical slaps in my face, but that was … different.

It makes you question the character of the person — and the world we live in.


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