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A Good Relationship Is About Give and Take. Never Let It Be One-Sided

A Good Relationship Is About Give and Take. Never Let It Be One-Sided

We all know that relationships are about giving and making compromises, but even if we try to do our best, we end up being ignored, not feeling satisfied or appreciated, or not being able to keep the relationships strong.

What if I told you that the solution to understanding this and doing something about it lies in a psychological theory?

What is The Social Exchange Theory?

The Social Exchange Theory is an interesting term, used to describe the relationship between two people as an exchange process.

The give and take approach plays a big role, but so does our perception of how meaningful this is, what the deserve, and what we think we are investing in this.

According to experts [1], the theory

‘assumes that all human relationships are a matter of costs and rewards and people evaluate the worth of their relationship to make a rational decision of whether or not to progress.’

How Does The Theory Look Like in Real Life?

This doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships , though, but to every situation from life where 2 parties interact. And if you think about it, you’ve already seen this in action.

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If you don’t feel like your efforts at work are noticed, you might start thinking about making it clear that you can easily leave and find a new job.

Investing more time in choosing a present for a friend, be it with or without an occasion, will unconsciously make you expect him to react in a certain way. But when he or she just says ‘Thanks.’ and continues to do something else, you’ll end up disappointed. That’s when you might consider the fact that this friendship isn’t worth the investment of your time and energy, and you should see this person less often so that you don’t feel like that again.

These are just simple examples of how the social exchange theory works.

But you might be asking, why does this happen, and how exactly?

Well, here’s how the process looks like for us, regardless of who the other person is:

It begins with what we think we deserve.

If you’ve always had bad relationships, you won’t really expect to be treated with respect by new people either, so that will make you put up with those who don’t deserve your attention. But because you’ve seen plenty of this in the past and are okay with it now, you won’t notice it and will think this is the best you can get;

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Calculating the possible outcomes

Leaving your job with confidence would only be possible if you feel sure that you’ll find something else, and as good, soon. If not, if you’ll have a much lower salary at the new place, or if it’s far away from your home, you might decide to stay where you are now and accept that it’s the best you can get at this moment;

Your definition of fairness

In the end of the day, all that matters is what you think is fair. Depending on how we define this, we create a level of comparison in our heads and evaluate all our interactions with other people based on this. In some cases you’ll give more, in others you’ll expect to get more out of the relationship.

All these combined are how the social exchange theory works.

It’s all about finding the balance between what we give and what we receive. Unfortunately, the balance in all areas of life is usually the hardest thing to achieve. Especially when talking about social life, when other people are involved and we rarely know what’s going on in their heads.

But the importance of this psychological set of ideas is undeniable. Once we truly grasp its meaning and how it happens, we’ll be more conscious when deciding whether or not we should keep someone in our lives.

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Now that we’ve defined the theory and know why it matters, let’s see how we can use it to our advantage and actually form better relationships.

Steps to Take to Improve Our Relationships

1. Think before you act, and before you ask.

That’s a great mindset shift you can make if you want to never feel like you’re giving more where it’s not appreciated , and to make sure you’re investing as much as the other person in this.

Meaning, before doing a favor, rationalize. Think if that person would do the same for you. Only this way can you see when it’s unreasonable and it’s time for you to say ‘no’ and set some boundaries. Otherwise, people will start using you,

The opposite is also true.

When you’re about to ask for something (even if it’s for someone to spend more time with you, give you something, share stuff about his life, or else), think if you’ve given him the same.

This will lead to knowing what type of exchange there is in each relationship in your life, and where you should focus on giving more.

2. Speak up. Talk to them. It shows that you really care.

When someone isn’t treating you the way you think you deserve, talk to them . Say it directly. This will save you both time and unpleasant emotions in the future.

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That might also help him realize his mistake and encourage an eagerness to change. If not, if he doesn’t seem impressed in any way or bothered by that, you’ll know you were right about your feelings and don’t need to keep seeing him.

To make sure you aren’t the one taking more out of a relationship, ask if the other person feels okay around you every now and then. This shows that you care, leaves room for improvement, and can be the game-changer in whether or not a relationship strengthens and lasts longer.

3. Be present.

Thinking about what has been before, having regrets about letting someone get close to you too soon, or wondering what could be different, is a waste of time.

The best thing you can do, that’s great for both of you and anyone else involved, is to practice mindfulness . That means being present and focusing on what’s going on now. Saying things out loud, being here and enjoying other people’s company, and taking action if anything needs to be changed.

Over to you now.

What can you do today to improve your relationships, using what you just learned about the social exchange theory?

Reference

[1] Academia.edu: Social Exchange Theory

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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