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Would you say that you’re a very reliable person?

If someone asked you what one of your best qualities was, could you say that being an individual others can count on is one of them?

Well, if you are, then you know how much it can suck to be a reliable person, especially a reliable relative. When people in your family go through things, they know they can count on you. Rely on you to be a listening ear, lend a helping hand, or support them in their endeavors. You’re clutch. So they call you to vent, to make a request, extend an invitation–whatever their heart desires. But when you try to call them for the same support, they’re too busy, too tired, too broke, or don’t even pick up the phone.

I have a friend who recently marked a significant milestone in her life. She invited a few friends and family to celebrate that milestone with her and sent out info about how she planned to celebrate a week in advance. She wanted to grab a few drinks with some of her favorite people, family included, and called about eight or nine loved ones.

Day of her event, only two friends showed up. The rest, including family, either cancelled on her, waited until after the shindig was over to send her a text, or ignored her text message altogether. Or, worst of all, they said they would come and then failed to show up, let alone send a message explaining why they all of a sudden went MIA. She tried to keep a smile on her face that evening, but she eventually shared her pain with me.

“I’m just really disappointed that I got stood up by people I’m always there for,” she said. “I would never do them like that.”

And therein lies the problem.

Her family knows that. Her friends know that. And that’s why they feel comfortable enough to do her so greasy. When you know that someone doesn’t have the heart to let other people down, you can always count on them to show up. That’s why people are so disappointed with individuals who are known for having a good track record when they fall through, while they’re less than surprised by those who constantly bail on others.

I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have too. People ask you to watch their kids, pick them up, let them stay in your place, take on extra responsibilities, and so on and so forth. They know you’re a dependable person and probably won’t find the same excuse that everyone else they thought of calling probably would have come up with. And so, you dutifully give, and give, and give of yourself, even when it’s a major inconvenience.

And yet, those same people have nothing to offer but excuses when you come around looking for assistance, a listening ear, a dollar, or some love and care.

But this can be one of the sacrifices of being a giving person. You don’t give because you want the kudos or because you only want someone to know that they owe you. You give because you know whatever you were able to do was the right thing to do. Plus, if you’re a church dweller like myself, you also do in the hopes that down the line, by blessing someone else, you will be blessed. And the more you’re blessed, the more responsibility you have to give.

I’m not going to preach a sermon today, but I do want to say that, from experience, it’s good to know when not to overextend yourself for selfish people. And that includes some family members. I think it’s beautiful to do what you can out of love, and because you would want someone to do the same for you if you ever found yourself in similar circumstances. But I think it’s detrimental when you’re only giving yourself, and everyone else is taking. That’s how you end up not just a little disappointed, but flat out hurt as my friend was, when those same people fall through for you.

But when they do, it’s good to be thankful for those who do stand by your side when others don’t show up. (If you don’t have any of those people, well, you need to entertain a new circle.) The friends who have your back even when your blood is thinner than you thought. And it’s also good to remind yourself of this lesson: It’s nice to be a reliable person. But when you’ve been used up a few too many times, it might be time to make yourself a little less available. For the sake of your own mental, financial and emotional well-being.

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