Why do I care so much for those who don’t seem to care about me?

I’m always the one that is there for everyone. I’m always the one checking up on everyone. But who checks up on me? Who is there for me when I need someone to ask me how I’m doing? Not a single person. Am I that horrible? I’m the one picking up the pieces for everyone else. I’m the one trying to help whenever and however I can. But nobody seems to be willing to return the favor. Why? How do I deal with this?

What you have and what you hold are rarely the same.

02-13-25-31-33 / 02

Hello Diner. It seems now would be one of those times you need help. How are you? I’m happy you asked us Fortune Cookies for guidance, but it seems you have trouble asking those close to you. Being made of the same dough, we Fortune Cookies constantly feel the emotional support of our batch-mates. For humans, their path of finding that support is a lot more labyrinthine.

People sometimes lavish care when they need it themselves. Asking for it is hard because they don’t want to seem needy or attention seeking. Maybe they feel undeserving. They just hope friends will get the idea. If friends miss these hints, it leaves these caregivers feeling abandoned and cheated out of recognition.

What’s worse is that the friends aren’t aware of this emotional economy, with good reason: they believe that the caregiver (you) is helping out of kindness and not as an exchange of services. Since they are busy with their own trouble, asking about you isn’t first in their minds. They assume you are fine since you haven’t asked for help and you have the capacity to help them. Your friends probably: 1) don’t know to return the favor, 2) don’t see what you did as a “favor” that needs repayment, 3) are busy with their own problem, and 4) assume you don’t need any help.

Therefore, you are certainly not a horrible person who isn’t valued. They wouldn’t trust you with their intimate problems otherwise. You’re looking for more balanced friendships. Here’s how you can develop them:

1. Understand asking for help doesn’t make you a bad person. If it does, you just labeled all of the friends you helped bad people.

2. Realize you already know how to ask for help. Ask your friends what you need the same way they ask you.

3. Stop if you just doubted these previous two recommendations. Do you honestly not trust your friends? Do you believe you’re not worth help? Work all those doubts out.

4. Expect nothing in return. I’m not suggesting that you continue suffering in silence. I’m recommending that you throw away the ledger. Help your friends. Ask for help. These are two different things, and neither one is emotional currency.

Change is hard, but if any of these recommendations are non-starters, ask yourself why. Trust that your friends want to help. Trust that they can. There are toxic people out there, but for all of your friends to be this way, you would have had to painstakingly seek out people who would systematically exploit you and discard you when you need them. You can find these toxic people if they would repeatedly deflect your needs while they still asked for help. Trust your friends. Give them a chance to respond to you instead of expecting them to know. You will soon notice you no longer have to “deal with” one sided friendships. It’s going to take work, but it’s not impossible. Trust me on that, Diner.