Category Archives: Relationships

When You Don’t Get Back What You Put In

Something I’ve learned over the years is that there are some people who take and don’t give back, or they give back significantly less than what they get.  There are people who stay even with you: they give back what you give them.  Then there are people who just give whenever they can, without keeping track of what you’ve given them.

Therefore, the sooner you recognize what category of person you are dealing with, the sooner you can adjust your own strategy accordingly.

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Relationship Skills: Overview

There are, at a generalized high level, 3 forms of relationships.

1. Parasitic: One person benefits while the other person loses.  A robber steals money from a victim. The robber gains money and the victim loses money.

2. Co-Existing: Either person is unaffected by the other person and they co-exist. Two people are eating at a restaurant at separate tables.

3. Mutualistic: Both people benefit from being in the relationship with each other.  Two friends doing an activity they would individually enjoy, together.  They derive pleasure both from the activity and from the shared experience.  Two people playing tennis: a sport that cannot be played alone with as much fun. Two people working together to move a table from one place to another so that it can be used by the two later.


For each form of relationship, there is a direct mapping form and an indirect mapping form of relationship.  A direct mapping means that the exchange in question exists within the same category as seen from both sides of the exchange, such as in the above example where a robber steals money from a victim.

Let’s take a look at an example of an indirect mapping, parasitic relationship. If I don’t value my wallet, but I value my safety, then when a robber steals my wallet by force, I am more affected by the loss of safety than the loss of my wallet.  From my point of view, I lost my safety, and the wallet was a side effect.  From the robber’s point of view, the primary gain was the wallet, safety was a means to the end. Thus, the exchange in question is not within the same category as seen from both sides of the exchange.

A direct mapping, co-existing relationship would be the restaurant example above, two people eating at separate tables. An indirect mapping, co-existing relationship would be two people working within the industry of Bio Engineering but physically in two separate cities.

A direct mapping, mutualistic relationship would be the examples above, two tennis players playing tennis together. An indirect mapping, mutualistic relationship would be two tennis players of drastically different skill levels playing together. The weaker player benefiting from the direct exposure to tennis skill and learning about tennis, and the stronger player benefiting through the gain in self confidence or self purpose through educating and training the weaker player. Again, the exchange is across two categories, learning from one perspective and teaching through another.


These 3 forms of relationships also serve as benchmarks for maturity.  Everyone starts out in this world in a mutualistic, indirect relationship with their caretaker.  As the caretaker imparts wisdom and the child grows up, and can begin developing co-existing relationships.  They have classmates, clubmates, co-workers, etc.  That child eventually gains the skills necessary to engage in direct mutualistic relationships.  Being an employee and getting paid for labor, or taking responsibilities from others and providing those services.


Weaving through all six forms of relationships is another kind of relationship.  The personal relationship.  This is the record or ledger for all interactions between you and the entity in question through all time.  Nurturing that into existence, keeping it alive, and making it flourish is one of the hardest things to do, and one of the most rewarding.  I’ll get to that in another post.


Accept Yourself, Accept Others, Find Balance – How to Achieve Healthy Relationships

From my post What are Relationships? we know that a relationship is the shared reality that is created when two independent entities interact and influence each other.  With this philosophical basis as our ground, we can now derive some corollaries

Two independent entities interact in a relationship.  What this means is that if I want to be in a relationship with you, I need to be separate from you.  If I try to please you and end up trying to win you over by doing everything you like and therefore becoming you–melding my identity into a dependent identity–then I am no longer independent and we cannot form a relationship.  This is a common relationship mistake people make.  I cannot have a relationship with myself.  My separate personalities can, but I as a summation of all my personalities cannot have a relationship with myself.  Therefore if you try to become the person you like, do not be surprised when they do not want to form a relationship with you: it’s impossible: you are them, there is nothing to form a relationship with.  At the same time I am unable to have a relationship with myself, I am already in a relationship with myself, and if you are most people you want relationships with other people and not with yourself: you already have it.

In order to achieve this you have to Accept Yourself.  Accept yourself for who you are, a separate independent identity of a person.  Whoever you happen to be: be OK with it in the sense that you acknowledge yourself as an independent identity with independent properties.  If you are unsatisfied with your properties you can work on self improvement (Part 1: Mindset and Logic) but you must accept that you are who you are.

In order to achieve this you also have to Accept Others.  If you are narcissistic and self centered and do not acknowledge the independent identities of other people as they are with independent properties, then you cannot form relationships with them.  This is the opposite of the above disorder: instead of trying to become the person you like, you try to turn their independent properties into properties that depend on you, basically trying to turn other people into versions of yourself.  It would be good to learn some Respect for others, perhaps that will help you accept their external existence. 

In a relationship, two independent entities influence each other.  Let’s prove this by contradiction.  Let’s say two independent entities are in a relationship but do not influence each other: I make my decisions in complete independence to Bob, someone I’ve never met on the other side of the world.  Bob also makes his decisions in complete independence to me, who he’s never met.  Our decisions may propagate and impact each other through the shared physical reality of Earth, but  only  through transitive relationships (I am related to Joe who knows Bob so if I impact Joe then through Joe I impact Bob).  There is no direct relationship and therefore no shared reality between me and Bob.  Without a shared reality, there is no relationship. Therefore, in a relationship, two independent entities influence each other.

In order to be in a relationship, you have to Achieve Balance between influencing the other person enough such that the relationship exists and influencing too much such that the other person’s identity becomes dependent on you.  The same statement applies to the person you are forming a relationship with.

Thus: Accept Yourself, Accept Others, Achieve Balance!

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