Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: lollylegs on October 14, 2013, 07:32:22 PM

Title: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: lollylegs on October 14, 2013, 07:32:22 PM
My partner and I were having this conversation last night and it led to more questions that we didn't really have any answers for.

A few weeks ago our friends Callum and Gracie invited us over for a BBQ. It was just the four of us - myself, my partner, Callum and Gracie. Last Sunday, we had them over for a BBQ at our house. We ended up inviting a few more people - some we invited ourselves, and a couple Callum and Gracie asked if it would be okay for them to come along (just to be clear there was no problems with them inviting people - they're close friends of ours and the people they invited are also close mutual friends) - so it ended up being a small party of about a dozen.

My partner and I were talking last night about whether that would be considered a reciprocal invitation. I felt like because there was more people there we weren't able to really sit down with Callum and Gracie and have a good chat, which was part of what made the original BBQ so nice. My partner says that when Callum and Gracie asked to invite people as well, they were saying that they were okay with a larger gathering. Thoughts?

This, in turn, led to general questions about whether a reciprocal invitation needs to mimic the original invitation. If, for example, someone invites you over for a fancy meal, are you required to reciprocate with a fancy meal? If someone invites you over for an intimate dinner party, is a larger gathering adequate reciprocation?

I guess it would probably be a situational thing, but I was just wondering if there's any sort of official rules regarding 'reciprocating in kind'?
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Yvaine on October 14, 2013, 07:36:51 PM
No, it doesn't have to be the same thing--for example, if someone has you over for a fancy meal but you can't afford that, you can have them over for something simpler. I think you're fine, and if you want to have more good conversation with them, there's nothing wrong with inviting them over some other time with that in mind. :) But I do think you've discharged the obligation.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: WillyNilly on October 14, 2013, 07:38:21 PM
If people always had to reciprocate in kind things would get boring and people of varying income levels would never get to socialize with one another.

I think you have reciprocated to your friends. Especially if they are close friends who you see often and volley hosting various events with back and forth - in the end it all evens out.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: TootsNYC on October 14, 2013, 07:39:25 PM
In fact, throwing a party is one way to discharge multiple reciprocal obligations all at once.

The think you are reciprocating is "an event on your social calendar." Not food, not even necessarily your company.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: lollylegs on October 14, 2013, 07:40:27 PM
In fact, throwing a party is one way to discharge multiple reciprocal obligations all at once.

The think you are reciprocating is "an event on your social calendar." Not food, not even necessarily your company.

Really?! Wow, that changes everything!
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: jpcher on October 14, 2013, 08:16:12 PM
In fact, throwing a party is one way to discharge multiple reciprocal obligations all at once.

The think you are reciprocating is "an event on your social calendar." Not food, not even necessarily your company.

Really?! Wow, that changes everything!

Yes. Really. I agree with Toots.


Reciprocity in the humble home (like mine) doesn't mean that you need to try to mimic or exceed the return the favor of a full-out 7-course meal dressed in table cloths with fine china and all that  (exaggeration) . . . it's the down-home friendship that is offered in return is what is important.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: m2kbug on October 14, 2013, 08:42:21 PM
This doesn't have to be a situation of "keeping up with the Jones."  If they throw a black tie, catered, 7 course meal, that is their choice and their prerogative.  You, on the other hand may not have the budget to do the same, and maybe it's just not your cup of tea.  Friendships are not about one-upping and matching each other dollar for dollar.  This question actually hurts a little because there's just no way I can reciprocate to any degree right now, and I would hope my friendships and invitations aren't hinged on a dollar figure. 

Maybe you feel like you "neglected" your friend due to the larger group, but I'm guessing your friend didn't feel neglected at all and had a great time, as did you, and you can arrange for another dinner or get together for coffee or something if you feel like you didn't really get to touch base as much as you wanted to, but I think the big picture here is no one felt put out or neglected and everyone had a blast and no worries on dollars and cents.  :)
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: lollylegs on October 14, 2013, 09:00:54 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 14, 2013, 09:07:29 PM
It still us equal reciprocity. Reverse it. Say they invited you to a party with 25 guests. You don't need to throw a similar party. A dinner at home, dinner at a restaurant, or Sunday afternoon football with wings and beer would be reciprocity for their inviting you to their large party.

Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: magician5 on October 14, 2013, 09:19:15 PM
Non-issue. You have fulfilled your "duty".
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: buvezdevin on October 14, 2013, 09:27:38 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

And I like the way you are thinking, at least regarding like financial cost versus heartfelt thoughtful effort - by which I only mean it should not be a "price" "menu" or "service" consideration which governs, though it may be considered.    If someone lacks skill in cooking (or otherwise) or lacks the budget (or other consideration) to reciprocate in like "situational" terms, it does not preclude extending an invitation to "do" "dine" or something which reciprocates a like level of interst/care/consideration.

 I don't think like menus/costs need (or should) be the drivers for considering what reciprocal effort one wishes to extend in furthering social contacts.  Reciprocity, with consideration of others intersts can be viewed as the basics of well functioning social fabrics, focussing on finding like intersects/values, rather than only a necessary formula for meeting expectations.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: EllenS on October 14, 2013, 09:50:59 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

That is charming and has a lot of merit.  While it's true that you would want to show care and attention back to those who have shown it to you, it does not have to be exactly equal all the time for each individual invitation.  That is nitpicky. The idea is that you have an ongoing relationship with people, and invest in the relationship over time.  Issuing recpirocal invitations just keeps it from being one-sided, so that nobody feels they are always giving/inviting/pursuing, and the other is just taking.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: cwm on October 15, 2013, 01:38:36 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

I think it's about the effort as well. If they could afford the lobster on bone china paired with a fine wine and you have a hard time affording Hamburger Helper, make up for the disparity of meals in some other way. Have some games, watch a movie. As long as you're putting genuine thought and effort into making it a fun evening for everyone, I think your due diligence is met.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: lowspark on October 15, 2013, 02:20:14 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

Well... to be honest, if I went to the trouple of cooking from scratch for someone I wouldn't be thrilled with them nuking some mac & cheese when I came over. There are a lot of things one can do that aren't super involved but that are better than microwaving a frozen dinner.

So yeah, I do think that in order to reciprocate properly, some effort, or at least some similar effort needs to happen.

That doesn't mean they have to cook. Could be they order in and pay or we eat out and they host or they pick up some cold cuts & all the trimmings for sandwiches or they grill burgers, etc. But I sure don't want to feel like they couldn't be bothered to do more than punch buttons on the MW to present a less than desirable meal just so they could say they had their turn.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Magnet on October 15, 2013, 02:29:40 PM
Yikes.  Your friends keep score??

My BFF is a great hostess.  Her and her husband routinely invite a number of couples to their home for long weekends.  Think Labor Day parties.  They also host much bigger parties, and throw pig roasts.  They love to entertain and love doing it at their home.  Everyone pitches is and we are all dear friends.  It works out wonderfully. 

I could start inviting my BFF to dinner now (but she's in Italy taking a cooking class, poor dear) and invite her every night for a year.  I still don't think we would be "even."

Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: artk2002 on October 15, 2013, 02:55:59 PM
In fact, throwing a party is one way to discharge multiple reciprocal obligations all at once.

The think you are reciprocating is "an event on your social calendar." Not food, not even necessarily your company.

Really?! Wow, that changes everything!

Yes. Really. I agree with Toots.


Reciprocity in the humble home (like mine) doesn't mean that you need to try to mimic or exceed the return the favor of a full-out 7-course meal dressed in table cloths with fine china and all that  (exaggeration) . . . it's the down-home friendship that is offered in return is what is important.

I agree as well. Reciprocity is about doing something in return. There's no obligation for it be financially or socially equal to the original event.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: artk2002 on October 15, 2013, 02:58:25 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

You're right, it's about the effort. I would hope that the mac n'cheese would be accompanied by some fun activity or something else taking effort.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Lynn2000 on October 15, 2013, 03:44:21 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

Interesting question! I can see how there might be disparity on the extreme ends, but I don't think you're anywhere close to that. I think if your microwavable mac and cheese is presented in good faith--like, you genuinely love it--and you provide pleasant companionship throughout the meal, you're good to go.

Now, if I made a homemade meal and provided pleasant companionship to my guest, and they reciprocated with low-effort food they clearly didn't like much themselves and barely spoke to me, the whole thing would have an air of "just checking off the box" and I wouldn't find it enjoyable or conducive to socializing with them again. I'd rather someone socialized with me because they wanted to, in a way that was enjoyable and didn't stress them out overly, than only because they felt like they had to "pay me back" so they put the minimum amount of effort in, or conversely, got stressed out doing something they didn't like/couldn't afford.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: camlan on October 15, 2013, 04:27:34 PM
The key thing is to reciprocate hospitality.

You don't have to match the type of event, or the level of formality or the cost.

You can reciprocate a formal dinner with 12 guests with an invitation to tea for one person. Or the movies. Or to visit a local museum, your treat. Or an afternoon of binge-watching Netflix with chips and dip.

The key thing is that you offer hospitality in return for the hospitality that has been offered to you.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Winterlight on October 15, 2013, 04:38:59 PM
Oh I'm not referring to monetary value at all, I guess I'm thinking more about care and effort. Like, if someone invited me over for a meal that they cooked from scratch, would it be rude to reciprocate with microwavable mac and cheese? I realise that there's a lot of variables - money, skills, the size of your house or yard - but I guess I have this idea in my head that if someone makes an effort for you, you have to make an effort back. So you might not be able to afford the lobster your friend served, but they really love your spaghetti sauce so you make that. Or something.

Hope that makes sense.

I think it depends on the event. If the mac and cheese was a spontaneous, casual event, served with good bread and salad, I'd be ok with that. Not for a dinner party, though. That suggests a level of formality beyond frozen dinners.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: lollylegs on October 15, 2013, 07:49:13 PM
Yikes.  Your friends keep score??

No, not at all. It's more like I'm keeping score regarding my own hospitality. The thing about my group is that after years of living at home or in starter houses, and getting together at restaurants and pubs, we're only just now starting to host in our own homes and the whole hosting thing is very new to me.

The key thing is to reciprocate hospitality.

You don't have to match the type of event, or the level of formality or the cost.

You can reciprocate a formal dinner with 12 guests with an invitation to tea for one person. Or the movies. Or to visit a local museum, your treat. Or an afternoon of binge-watching Netflix with chips and dip.

The key thing is that you offer hospitality in return for the hospitality that has been offered to you.

I like this.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Allyson on October 15, 2013, 11:09:42 PM
I think the concept of reciprocity is mainly there so it doesn't feel like the friendship is one-sided. Different people have different skills/talents. I don't cook, but my best friend does--so she might host me at her place, but I'll take her out for a nice meal. And, maybe I spend a couple hours helping a friend out with a project or issue one weekend, but she gives me rides on a regular basis because we live close and she has a car...

Also, some people *love* hosting, can afford it, and have a better space. I think there are other ways for friends who are uncomfortable hosting, can't afford it and have no space to make it clear they aren't just mooching, but it doesn't really make sense for both friends to host equally often, in the situation where one is genuinely much better suited for it.
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: MurPl1 on October 16, 2013, 12:19:14 PM
DH and I were just discussing this last night. 

The last two Fridays we were invited to friends houses for group get-togethers.  (two different couples).

I said I'd been feeling like it was our turn to have people over.  Until I realized "hey, we're throwing our big Halloween party in a few weeks - we are reciprocating."

And to turn it around, we do have this Halloween party each year.  Big deal, lots of deco, theme, construction (and yes I'm freaking out that I'm getting staple holes in my newly painted walls).  I certainly don't expect our guests to have to reciprocate with a similar type party.  That's just crazy to expect.  :)
Title: Re: Questions about reciprocity
Post by: Winterlight on October 17, 2013, 10:01:15 AM
Back when I lived in a boarding house, I had no way to entertain there. So I'd take people to dinner, coffee, museums- whatever. For potlucks, I'd pick up something nice at the grocery store. There are all sorts of ways to reciprocate, even if you don't have space.