Do you remember a point in life where you felt taken for granted? I can, and believe we all have at one time or another.
You've seen it happen early on and even later in relationships, friendships, even families, and we're all guilty of it. It usually occurs when someone does something for you over and over again, and initially, you're so thankful and appreciative for the person going out of their way to do so. It could be something relatively small, such as your Mom making you dinner or your significant other throwing away your trash. Even worse, it could grow into something larger, like your Dad buying a bike for you. In case you couldn't tell, I am referring to you taking someone or something for granted. Your initial elation and gratitude, which consists of jumping up and down and showing your eternal gratefulness to the giver by always appreciating all they do, evolve to you, not even saying thank you. We are all guilty, and do you know why? Because we come to expect it.
The truth is; eventually, the newness of someone doing something for you wears off, and you begin to expect it to happen. You finish dinner and watch television, only to realize 30 minutes later you didn't clean the dishes. You go into the kitchen, and they've already been washed because your spouse decided to do them right after dinner. If your spouse does this every time and never holds you accountable to help out, you're likely to expect it to be done. That is until one day you walk into the kitchen and the dishes are stacked to the cabinets because you took advantage of the situation, your spouse feels you're not contributing, and ultimately, you took that person, and their actions, for granted.
You see, when anyone does something for you, no matter how small, such as a stranger holding the door open for you, you should cherish it. Because expectations unkempt can turn real selfish quick. While the newness of someone doing something for you that no one else has ever done may eventually go away, the key to showing appreciation for those actions is to cherish them and act in return. If you only do something for someone because you're expecting a favor, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. When someone helps you, you show them you cherish their assistance by acknowledging and reciprocating it.
The next time your Mom plans to make you dinner, switch it up. Tell her you're surprising her and make dinner yourself. Or, even if you have a deal worked out with your spouse where you take care of all the dishes, and they always do the laundry, do them both one day. You'd be surprised how far these gestures could go in making your Mom or spouse feel loved, cared for, and cherished. The last thing you ever want to do is make someone feel taken for granted, and though we've all made someone or had someone make us feel that way, it's best to learn from those past experiences to ensure you don't make the same mistakes again.
When you feel taken for granted, you start to remove yourself from the situation, mentally and physically. This process can be complicated, as often people don't intend to make another person feel that way, and it more or less happens because expectations weren't tempered in the first place. Of course, you should have high expectations for your loved ones in how they treat you and their willingness to go above and beyond in making you feel wanted and special. However, when you expect actions to take place, not because of love but because that's just what you've gotten used to, that's when you're doing a disservice to yourself and the giver.
Perhaps the most instrumental aspect in never making someone feel taken for granted are your actions. Let your actions be known and speak volumes for the people you care about in your life. Please don't wait for them to do something for you; initiate, initiate, initiate. Also, don't only expect them to do something because they've always done it, either. Switch responsibilities up; that way, you gain a newfound understanding and appreciation for what someone does for you. Do what works best for your dynamic, but most of all, temper your expectations and cherish the actions taken towards you by the people from your relationships, friendships, and family. It's the closest thing to a sure-fire way of guaranteeing your loved ones never feel taken for granted.