There is a statement I’ve been hearing quite often.
It comes when someone is angry. It comes when someone needs to feel empowered. It comes when someone is empowered. It comes for a variety of reasons. Hell, I’ve heard it when I’m demanding an explanation from someone for their shitty behavior.
“I don’t owe you anything.”
It’s a good statement, don’t get me wrong! I’ve used it myself a few times, and I encourage those who struggle with assertiveness to give it a shot. However, I’ve begun to disagree with this statement.
I don’t think you need to be nice and cheery and respectful and just the sweetest damn thing on two feet. And I am definitely not telling you to be complacent. So what am I getting at?
We owe people exactly what they give to us. If someone has been nothing but kind, respectful, and just plain decent to you, then you should respond in kind. If someone treats you like garbage, then go ahead and brush them off. Please keep in mind that this is just in terms of general demeanor and language. Reciprocity doesn’t apply to things like sex, emotional burdens, secrets, physical contact, sexual/romantic interest, etc.
And, for the love of God, UNWANTED COMMENTS ARE NOT RESPECTFUL NOTIONS!!!!
So let’s sum it up: if someone is nice to you, you simply owe them the same kindness. If someone catcalls you, you do not owe them a thank you. If someone is horribly rude to you, it is well within your right to be rude back. If someone is interested in you, you don’t have to be interested back–although, ghosting is not appropriate if the relationship extends beyond two dates (just saying!).
You don’t have to be nice to everyone you meet. But think about the reciprocity you believe people owe to you before denying it to someone else.
Food for thought.