This is a broad, deep, muddy puddle of a question. Without knowing you or the specifics of your situation, it is almost impossible to recommend a specific course of action. However, here are some options to explore — some or all of which may be helpful to you:
1) Consider asking yourself why you feel you need (or expect) reciprocity, and why you feel abandoned or disappointed by its absence. Perhaps you could employ the downward arrow technique from CBT to explore your thought patterns around these emotions…and what is really at the root of them (in terms of beliefs, assumptions, past experiences, etc.).
2) There is a possibility that you are choosing the wrong people to love, admire and adore. You may, in fact, be setting yourself up for disappointment and feelings of abandonment because you are attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable, or inherently subdued or unexpressive. This can happen when, for example, one of our parents was detached and undemonstrative, and we are forever trying to “fix” that experience — and our own feelings of inadequacy that are still evoked by it — by seeking out people that are just like that parent, and trying to “get them to love us.” To break this cycle, we need to address and heal the family relationship — and/or the persisting personal narrative within — that has modeled this dynamic.
3) You may be misinterpreting signals, perpetuating an exaggerated assessment of your affection and the clarity of your communication, or have unrealistic standards of reciprocity. In other words, you may think that the quid-pro-quo is obvious and reasonable, when it’s actually not. People get into all sorts of trouble when they think, “Hey, isn’t it obvious that I’m expressing affection and compassion here? And isn’t it obvious that you should be reciprocating…?” In reality the other person may have no clear idea of what is going on, or how to respond — even if you try to express it to them directly. At the same time, you yourself may not be accurately reading signals the other person is sending your way — both positive and negative. Lastly, have you actually asked for what you want? If not, that could contribute to a simple remedy. All of these issues of accurate awareness, expectation and communication are in fact what a LOT (perhaps most) of couples counseling ends up working through.
4) One of the most liberating spiritual practices I have learned during my life is giving without expectation of reciprocation. Giving of yourself, in any form, can be its own reward…with the right frame of mind. And when “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” (in terms of charitable feelings and actions), this can remove a lot of potential frustration and disappointment from the interpersonal equation. Learning how best to be a Blessing Presence to others is of course a lifelong task, but inherent to that is a mindset that a cup that overflows with love generated from within does not need to be refilled from without.
5) The quickest path to burnout is not loving ourselves first. Do you cherish the person you are? Do you honor and have compassion for that person in all of your choices? For most folks, identifying and addressing barriers to this basic level of self-respect and self-care is the beginning of healing necessary to love others effectively and freely.
My 2 cents.
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