Which relationship are you in?

No matter who you are, no matter the nature of the relationship, there are three levels of relationships you are likely in. Each level could define individual one to one relationship you have or ones within a group or team.

The relationship levels in no particular order:

• The GIVING relationship
• The RECEIVING relationship
• The MUTUAL BENEFITTING relationship

These relationships are played out based on who is doing what in the relationship. For example, say you have a friend whom you are always offering counsel to, advice, being a listening hear, doing one thing or the other for, and your relationship is predominantly that way inclined, that is a GIVING relationship, where you are doing the MOST, if not ALL the giving.

The second relationship, the RECEIVING is the reverse of the giving relationship, where instead of being the giver, you are the receiver. You are the one always going to the other person for advice, counsel, help with this and that most of the time, if not all the time. In this relationship, you are mostly receiving from the other person and not entirely giving much back in comparison to their giving. So they probably don’t share their issues with you. You are not on their speed dial for one of the first persons to call if they are going through their own thing. They are always there for you, 100 per cent of the time and there is no demand for you to be there for them.

Last but not least, the MUTUAL BENEFITTING relationship – You GIVE because you have something to offer and you receive because the other person also has something to give and offer in return. You both SHARE. This is a relationship where strength and weakness exist in correlation, a two-way system that allows for nourishing and replenishing. You share your lives in that relationship. When it’s good, you laugh together. When it’s tough, you can cry together. You grow together. You aspire greatness together and propel each other towards individual best lives. You are connected. You remain connected. Your relationship is consistent and is embodied with predominantly positive emotional energy. That is the highest level of a relationship. One I seek.

While, there may be nothing wrong with an ordinary ‘Giving’ or ‘Receiving’ relationships because sometimes those relationships are needed just as they are, and may not exceed that level, though the potential for it to change is there. For example, as a mentor to someone, you may find that you do the most giving and as the mentee, you will do much of the receiving. Or in some instances, the relationship has been set and define by those boundaries, I give to you only, I receive from you only, and that is just what those relationships are.

Downsides to an only giving or receiving relationship

In an only GIVING relationship, the giver can become exhausted. When a person gives and gives and is not getting in return, their energy level in that relationship can become depleted. Givers receive less and can be forgotten or imagined to be superhuman hence I advocate even if the boundaries of the relationship is set to be an only giving relationship, as the receiver in that relationship, attempt to give a little something back, even if it’s just your appreciation and thank you notes or messages. Or sometimes give the giver a short break, time and space to refuel.

Unless a person is utterly selfish or a complete narcissist, I believe no one should be comfortable long term in a ‘RECEIVING’ only relationship, where all they want to do is take, take, take without giving anything, NOTHING in return.

This is because as human beings, we strive in connecting and sharing. When all you do is receive (take in) without the opportunity to give out, a time will come when you will almost want to explode. When you eat and eat, become overfed, you will feel like bursting because you are taking in so much without exerting any energy to balance out what you have taken in.

Giving makes us feel useful and valuable. Therefore, when you do not have an opportunity to give in a relationship, you can begin to feel the opposite (dispensable and unworthy). When you have an output, a medium to channel what you possess, all that is within you, it is easy to replenish. However, if you cannot give, you cannot refill thus you recycle what you already have instead of getting something fresh – new zest, fresh energy, reloaded and ready to discharge.

Denying yourself or someone else an opportunity to give is to deny them the right to experience the intricate sense of human kindness and a chance of purposeful living. Living without giving is synonymous to a boat without paddles – aimlessly afloat.

Beyond the levels of relationships as aforementioned, something else to consider in our relationships is what energy is driving it? Is it positive energy or a negative one? If after a conversation or interaction with someone, you are left feeling disgruntled, perplexed or unnerved, a negative exchange just took place. A relationship filled with negativity will never grow and will eventually die. The more negatively charged a relationship the less likely it will develop or grow. However, the more positively charged a relationship, the more likely it will grow, strengthen and deepen.

Moving forward, in search of an authentic relationship with a more in-depth definition, I seek a ‘mutual benefitting relationship’, what about you? What relationship are you in and what do you seek?


  • Abi

    13/12/2018 at 10:38 am

    I believe most of my relationships are mutual which is great! but the few that I have where I’m in the receiving end, I try my best to give in any way possible because I don’t like being useless to people. If we have a relationship, I think ‘of what use am I or can I be to this person’. I don’t believe in just receiving from people around and never giving back but sometimes the other party would’ve put that boundary there, where they don’t expect or consider you when they need to receive.

  • Adebimpe

    10/12/2018 at 9:24 am

    Hmmmm! I have been in all the relationships mentioned,sometimes the giving,and in all honestly i don’t usually expect anything in return because those people dont have much. I have also been a receiver in terms of advice and all but at the end the relationships i seek these days is the mutual benefiting one as it comes with a lot of positive energy.
    Lastly thanks for sharing this piece, i enjoy reading your blog post.

    • Abi Opall

      10/12/2018 at 11:30 am

      Thank you so much for your comment and feedback. Truly appreciate it.

      Yes, we can have all levels of relationship operating at the same time with different people.

      What is most important is knowing and understanding the boundaries each one permits, and managing those relationships amicably in a way that satisfies your soul.

      For me, I find a ‘mutual benefitting’ relationship is the goal because one strives better in both giving and receiving in that one relationship. Also, it tends to be more serving, satisfying and fulfilling.


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