Monday, March 23, 2009

Economics of Relationships

Every relationship has a certain amount of give and take (from 1-100%). Some relationships are more give (parent to an infant=100%) and some are more equal (co-workers=50%). For a large majority of my life I have been on the receiving end of most of my relationships. My parents, my teachers, and many times my friends gave more to me than I did. This is measured by who takes more responsibility in the relationship (listening instead of talking, calling to catch up, or challenging). I think it is fairly normal for young people to be served more than they serve. Not only are they less aware of this responsibility, but they are also less capable of serving people (like any skill it is learned).

But kids grow up into adults and part of being an adult is taking more responsibility for yourself and others. A good sign of growth is if you are taking more responsibility for your relationships then you used to. However, I think it's also important to have a balance. People are only capable of a certain amount of service without a recharge. Be sure you have friends who serve you 75% and friends you serve 75%. Here's a question I'd be interested in hearing your response to, what is my percentage to you, have you seen it change, and are you satisfied with it?


  1. I'm confused as to if, in your system of relationships, the "give" is linked to the "take." Is it possible to have 75%-75% or not?
    Furthermore, perhaps one reason people tend toward more selfish relationships (say 25-75 give to take) is because economically, people prefer their output to exceed their input. When I am playing cards, I input $5 with the hope of winning $25 only if I am getting 5-1 against (16.6%) or better for my hand. Thus, a relationship in which you give 75% and receive 25% can be very unrewarding and frustrating (if it's with a peer).

  2. I think you're right, people do inherently look for their relationships to benefit them more than the other. But I don't think that is a good thing (and probably a result of the fall).

    In my mental system it is a zero sum game with a total of 100%. But maybe that isn't the best way to think about it. There surely are gains from trade in friendship. Maybe someone serving a lot can encourage someone to serve a lot thereby increasing the production of overall service.

    Then again I think I was taking that idea into account when I suggested not having only friends that you mostly serve (like you said, there is burnout). So maybe you serving a large percentage can encourage someone else to serve another person a large percentage. Sounds like Biblical discipleship to me.

  3. Anthony12:11 AM

    You take 100%.

    Nothing's changed. Besides that time you called me because you locked yourself out of your car - which I still deem as selfish because you called out of boredom, not concern. Jerk.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.