When you love being in someone’s company, a friend, a lover, a sibling, a parent… you’d do anything for them. You’d ask them if they need help with anything, you’d drop everything if they asked to catch up, you’d tell them that if you won the lottery, they would be one of the first people they would give some too. Generally, your giving spirit is enhanced when you enjoy being with that person.
So when the shoe is on the other foot, and someone gives generously to you, why are we then so sceptical? Does it ruin the friendship or relationship? Do people like to be considered equals so any gift or help that’s unsolicited is questioned for it’s motive? I guess it depends on the relationship. If it’s your mother, you wouldn’t think twice, if it’s your lover, you’d soak it up, but when it’s a good friend being ultra kind out of the blue, do you wonder where this attention is coming from?
It’s hard, because I know myself, I’ve been extremely giving to friends in the past and have been burnt because they feel like I’m buying their friendship, or we have arguments because they don’t want to feel that they ‘owe’ me something. If you set the standard from the onset, then you’re most likely not going to have any problems, as you’ve begun the relationship knowing the boundaries, but if it’s out of the blue, you’re unsure of the intentions behind it, as you know you’ve done nothing to warrant any excess giving, so you think that either they have done something wrong and making up for it, they want something from you that you’re not prepared to do or forsake for them so they thought they may sweeten you up, or possibly the worst, buy your friendship for that little bit longer if they think that the friendship is on rocky grounds.
I guess when it comes to a lover, and a gift comes from out of nowhere, you’d suspect the worst. Flowers that don’t happen regularly generally mean they had thoughts or actions with another person, or if the present is overly expensive, like a diamond bracelet and there is no special occasion, the warning signs go into overdrive. But when your relationship isn’t on equal terms, you truly do feel uncomfortable receiving something you don’t, in fact, deserve.
And I guess that’s why so many people are reluctant to take money when someone offers them some in their time of need because they are too proud or worried they have to pay it back. Just as some are reluctant to be shouted out for dinner, be given a gift over and above the standard gesture of a token bottle of wine or box of chocolates when invited over for dinner, or sent a bunch of flowers from someone they don’t like in ‘that way.’ They don’t want to feel like they owe them something.
It’s a tricky one, because you don’t want to seem ungrateful, but you don’t want to feel obligated to have the friendship based on their generosity. And you definitely don’t want to feel there are hidden motives for their actions. As all friendships, relationships and families should be a means of reciprocity, not one-sidedness.
I don’t know what to tell you here… if you know that if you were the one giving added attention because you appreciate the person so much, you would feel happy to help and it makes you feel good that you can, but you don’t really consider the feelings of the person you’re giving to, and how humbled and uncomfortable they may feel about receiving your gesture.
I guess the only thing you can do is be honest… honest about how you feel about receiving expensive or unexpected gifts or gestures. If it turns into an argument, then you know that the ‘giver’ has a hidden agenda because they become so defensive, and then, you’ll realise that the relationship may not be what you thought.