Are You Keeping Score in Your Relationships?


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Relationships, Spirituality, Thought | Posted on 03-09-2016

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Are You Keeping Score?For many, a natural consequence of life is to (unofficially) keep score in relationships. For instance, “I called him last time, so it’s his turn to call this time.” “He paid last time, so I’ll pay this time.” “I said “I love you, so now it’s her turn.” But when the score starts getting out of whack, people often freak out and may even start to think and feel like they’re being taken advantage of. Certainly if a relationship is sooooo one-sided in all respects it may be time to re-evaluate it. But in most relationships, this isn’t the case.

Much of the time the uneven score can be chalked up to a simple misunderstanding:

We believe everyone else in the world sees it the same way we do.

Yet nothing can be further from the truth.

You see, our score keeping activities go awry when what we’re keeping score on matters to us, but not so much to the other person.

Let’s take phone calls. I detest making them and rarely do it. I’m happy to schedule calls with people and will answer ones from people I know, but an out of the blue call from me to anyone is a rare occurrence. Aside from when I was a teenager, I’ve probably made about 3 unsolicited calls to people in my life! No exaggeration. (Ask my kids, husband, parents and friends.)

So if phone calls matter to you because it’s what you do when you care about someone (i.e., your life experience has caused you to give phone calls meaning such as “I like/love you if I call you”) then when I never call, you’re likely to presume something that isn’t true. For me, calling you has no correlation whatsoever to how much I love you. But if you’re keeping score about this either consciously or unconsciously, it’s easy to see how our relationship could potentially fall to pieces.

One of the great things about being human is our uniqueness and individuality.

Yet it’s also what causes us so much grief.

The differences in the way we’re brought up, our culture, our sex, our age and our ethnic background all have an effect on how we see the world. Because of this, it’s often hard to put ourselves into other people’s shoes. Especially when it comes to issues that seem so basic to our way of thinking.

For instance, take food preferences. When you love chocolate (or anything else) as if it’s God’s gift to your taste buds, it’s difficult to imagine how someone else might think it tastes disgusting. It doesn’t even compute. And yet we know others have different tastes in foods.

It’s no different for other things in our life. We like to do some stuff and we dislike to do others. While the person sitting next to us might like the very things we dislike, and vice-versa. This is great as it creates all sorts of symbiotic relationships between people. Very often we’re attracted to those with skills and traits that are different than ours and say it’s because “they complete us.”

Why then do we flip out when they don’t do things the way we think they should?

Often it’s because we believe if they loved us, they’d want to please us. Therefore, they’d do the things that make us happy even if it’s not in their nature to do so. Which happens a lot in relationships. Especially in the beginning phases. But after awhile, it may get harder for the one trying to do the pleasing to keep doing something they dislike (or simply don’t think of) to do.

And so it begins!

While it’s true that if we know something is important to our family or friends we could suck it up and do it to please them. But honestly, why should we have to? Shouldn’t it work the other way around as well? In other words, what if we could have compassion for the one who doesn’t like doing what we like, and realize that it has nothing to do with how much they love us. Do they love us less if they don’t like chocolate and we do?

Should I have to call my friends and family in order to keep the score even?  Is it really any different from making someone eat something they find distasteful?

I should add that the other side to this is the guilt that many people feel when they don’t do the things that they know is important to others. Sometimes the path of least resistance (which I believe we should always take for our own sanity) is to just make the damn phone call or even eat the gross thing! It really depends on how you feel about it.

My point with this article, however, is to help all of us to see that there are always at least 2 sides to every issue. And the meaning we ascribe to the action (or inaction) of others is 100% arbitrary. Instead of keeping score, if we do the things we love doing and let our friends and family do what they love, imagine what a happy and peaceful world it would be!


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CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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