When I see people complaining about how much they over extend themselves in their relationships and get nothing in return, I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them vigorously.
I want to tell them to stop immediately, to put a pause on that behaviour.
I just don’t get why one should view giving in that way, because it takes the joy out of the act.
Instead of constantly giving to a point that it negatively affects you, why not just be generous when you can?
I’m basically saying you should give less frequently, but more easily, because when you only do so when you genuinely can, you do so from a different place.
Honestly, I sometimes think that people have a strange idea of what friendship actually is. I’ve always viewed it differently, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m the drama.
No really, I keep seeing all these online think pieces about what makes someone a good friend, and truly it seems like an extremely strict balancing act to maintain.
See, the thing is, I believe that (romantic and platonic) love is many things: powerful, comforting, healing and honest, among others. Many people online sometimes make it seem like it should be submissive, possessive, overly attached or controlling.
In my real life, I don’t really encounter these problems. People who know me well understand me very much and just get how I like to give and receive love.
I think for me, it is supposed to be a freeing experience. I think friendship is something that should be there for you when you need it. It should be understanding and compassionate and kind.
I don’t think that love should be the be all and end all of your existence. I don’t think you should lay down your life, or constantly give and give, or sacrifice yourself to prove to someone that you care about them.
I think you should have limits and only so much space for other people, and the rest of your emotional resources should be spent on self-reservation.
I’ve had people in my life who have outright demanded that I inconvenience myself, my time, my mental health, my money and other things to show them that I truly care about them.
They’ve expected me to drive drunk at night to pick them up from somewhere, spend my last dollar to feed them, cancel a paying gig to rather hang out with them, take the blame for something to cover for them and a myriad other absolutely ridiculous things that other people seem to find reasonable.
I’ve had someone mutter to me in a meek and bitter voice, “I would’ve done it for YOU” in an attempt to emotionally blackmail me and all it did was make me pity them because I felt like they didn’t know how to set boundaries in their relationships.
I had to point out to them that as their friend I would never expect that of them in the first place. We were at a stalemate.
I don’t think anyone deserves a reward for being built that way.
I think that you should be willing to go to the ends of the earth for the people in your life, but not to your detriment.
I implore everyone out there to learn a little bit more about loving and caring for themselves. The person in the mirror should always be your priority. After that, I think that it is important to maintain relationships and friendships that feed and nourish you. I think that you should also be somebody who is willing to pour into others to help where you can, to hold space for people to be themselves, to be compassionate and kind and open-hearted.
I just think you should be able to balance this well. You’re not on this earth to prove anything to anybody or to get brownie points or to get the award for being the most self-sacrificial person.
Because all I think it ever accomplishes is you being upset when “all” you do for others is not reciprocated. Because you constantly bend over backwards you feel that the world, those around you, the people you love owe you the same back.
So you constantly complain about everyone you’ve ever done something for.
But my question is who told you to continue doing all that? You really could stop after you realise someone is selfish. Why continue to give if you’re just going to regret it later? Just because they were ungrateful?
You can’t control other people. You can only give and love without expectation and then open your own heart to receiving what is meant from you from those who also want to pour into you without expectation.
Try this exercise: the next time you give someone something, never think about it ever again. See what that does to your mood.
– Anne Hambuda is a poet, writer, YouTuber and social commentator from Windhoek.
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