I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person that is a big believer in giving back when I’ve received something. 

If my friend treats me to a movie and coffee date, I’d want to be able to show my appreciation by returning the gesture the next time we go out.  

Yes, friendship is not about having a tally, but it is a two-way street. I almost feel like it’s an unspoken rule that you take turns treating each other. Of course best case scenarios usually involve splitting the bill evenly, but sometimes you just want to be the friend that spoils your bestie.

But what about those moments when you’re going through financial difficulties and your friend insists on picking up the bill? Not once, but most of the time.

Should you try and avoid going out as much as possible even if your friend doesn’t mind? Because what if you can’t actually give anything back for the next few months?

Not necessarily, because as it turns out, if you’re feeling this way, you’re definitely not alone. Cari Romm from The Cut.com reports that a study conducted and recently published in a psychology journal have now actually coined a term for this feeling.

It’s called reciprocity anxiety and it relates to the pressure we feel to give back when something is offered to us. 

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It can leave us feeling that we have to reciprocate even when we can’t. And then sometimes friends start overcompensating as if the friendship or company isn’t enough.

*Zoliswa also struggles with this.

“My one friend always treats me to fancy weekends away when she visits from oversees. She has a very high paying position and loves to treat others; yet I often can’t help but wonder whether I add enough value to the friendship because I almost never pay for anything when I see her. Yet with time I have realised that she wants to do this, it comes as second nature and she never expects anything in return. Once this was established in my mind, I ‘let’ her treat me – realising this is her way of showing me love and affection.”

Carmen says she prefers giving instead of receiving

"I struggle with accepting things from others, but I love giving gifts and spoiling other people. Even when I used to go on Tinder dates I would insist on paying my half, or if the guy had paid before I would offer to pay next time. My boyfriend now also doesn’t understand why I like buying him things, but then I feel bad when he does the same for me. I like giving more than receiving."

But it all comes back to the idea behind friendships and what they're measured by – investing in a friendship takes on so many different forms and give and take doesn’t always have monetary value attached to it, but more about how much energy and time you spend being a solid support structure when your friend needs you.

And if one day, you find that you are in the position to pay that lunch or dinner tab, then do so, but do so without the idea that you’re paying your friend back, but rather from the perspective of spoiling someone you love because you can and because you want to.

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