The Friendship Bank: How and Why Even the Most Giving Friend Expects Payback

The Wall Street Journal:

For 20 years, Christina Steinorth was happy to help one of her close friends with whatever she needed—last-minute baby sitting, a drive to work when her car was in the shop, countless hours of free marriage advice (Ms. Steinorth is a licensed marriage and family therapist). She didn’t expect anything in return.

When Ms. Steinorth and her husband decided to adopt a baby a few years ago, she asked her pal to write a letter of recommendation. The friend agreed enthusiastically, Ms. Steinorth says, but months went by and no letter arrived. She asked again and the friend apologized profusely, but still no letter. After several more months, Ms. Steinorth asked one more time. Her friend ignored her.

The results: “Being a helpful person feels good and contributes to better relationships and greater satisfaction and self-worth,” says Bonnie Le, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Toronto and lead researcher on the study.

Even so, people with strong communal orientation aren’t completely selfless. They do expect their friends will be there if they need them. The risk they run is they won’t receive support, or they will even be exploited, by friends or loved ones with low communal orientation.

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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