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Don’t bother! - why you shouldn’t ever do any favors

There was an insane amount of feedback to my Instagram story about a bike tour together with my friends. Among other things it was, that I really need a lot of trust in my friends to do something like this. Sure, you need trust - but not in my friends.

Creating some causal order

Hey, of course I trust my friends. And my friends trust me. Friendship without trusting one another is just a community of convenience. This is not a bad thing, but of course it cannot be compared with what is possible with true experiences with friends. My travels and trips with Sven and Torsten, however, are marked by a lot more. We don't do something together because we trust each other. We are friends. We just want to do something together. And because we are friends, we have certain qualities in doing things.


Respect, empathy, affection, appreciation, trust, honest openness, similar humor, courage to conflict and, above all, many common, twisted-crazy thoughts between the convolutions of our brains - that is what characterizes our friendship for me. If it was “only” about trust, I could have done the bike tour with my dentist - I trust him too. And maybe he would have said yes and accompanied me to do me a favor. Because, in fact, I can't sit on a bike alone and zoom around with it. Perhaps you will already notice yourself where the catch is now.

The catch: eyelevel

My friends go on a bike tour with me, not to make it possible for me, but because they want to go on a bike tour with me. Of course, we will then have a look together to see how this can be done, because I have other prerequisites. Our eye level is never in question. The fact that I have their support in certain points is part of the shared fun and experience, it doesn't create the honorable gradient that occurs when I do someone else a favor. With the latter, I (apparently) act for my counterpart. In many cases this means that unspoken gratitude up to the point of inconsistent submission is to be expected. That those who do the favors determine the process. Do you all know the moment when you yourself threw a favor with the words "Then do your crap yourself!" Because the other dared to say that he would like it to be different.

Friendship knows dignity and spoken words

My friends are not doing me a favor. And neither do I. It has something to do with dignity. At eye level. In the back, in my backpack, I'm an equal part of a joint venture. Nobody expects gratitude. That I am grateful and what I am grateful for can be found on a different page.

If you do something, do it for yourself and because you want to do it yourself. Never act for another to be nice, kind, generous, or whatever. Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge that your counterpart is always a person on an equal footing, whose dignity is untouchable even in the position of acceptor, support or need. That he is an individual and thus has and can express his own wishes, perspectives, needs.

Of course, there can also be conflicts or friction. Torsten, Sven and I have heaps of them. What I can 100% trust in is that I will never hear from them: "I'm so nice now and cycle around here with you, I don't expect any further requests for directions and comments about my driving behavior."

Dignity knows words. Yes, friendship is trust. Trusting in the fact that I'll never have to shut up. That my back pain from sitting in my rucksack is just as deplorable as that of Torsten, who was carrying the rucksack. Friends laugh about it together, tease each other and can neatly complain. Friends are not doing each other favors. Friends act together.

Do it because you want to, with all the consequences

You might be thinking, “Well, if I open the door for an older lady, I'm doing her a favor. I'm not holding the door open because I need it now. “Yes, maybe you want to be nice. Polite. Attentive. Which you then are, too, of course. And now imagine that the lady's rollator is hooked on the door and she snaps at you, you could please open the door properly. So? Are you now thinking "Now I'm going to hold the door open for her and still have her barking at me?"

Be aware: You made the decision to hold the door open, no one else. The older woman doesn't have to be grateful. A homeless person doesn't have to be grateful when you get him a black coffee. Don't give anything if the gift sticks to your expectation that it should please and arouse gratitude. Maybe he doesn't even like black coffee?

Doing a favor means wanting someone to be in your favor

Most favors are done to have someone in your favor. To generate one's own reason to be here from altruistic behavior. When in doubt, this has nothing to do with the other person and their needs. Where there is no appreciation for the other, there is above all a lack of appreciation for oneself.

Don't do anyone a favor. Do yourself a favor. By first putting your best life on your own two feet. Trust yourself. Appreciate yourself. Then the communities of convenience give way to real friendship. You can trust that. And your friends.

And of course, you can and should continue to open doors for others or help the homeless, but don't expect gratitude. Do it for joy instead and let your counterpart have a say on an equal footing.

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© 2024 Janis McDavid