top of page

Energy exchange in relationships

In plain English

Many of us have come across wise quotes and statements (internet is full of them) that sound right but don’t quite make sense to us, especially in terms of practical implementation. People who processed, internalised and implemented these concepts into their lives, probably don’t need to see them, because for them, it’s like stating the obvious: the sun rises every day, so what? People who haven’t processed these concepts, will find them difficult to relate to. Even if these concepts sound right to people, they’ll be unclear about how to apply them in life. Because it's easier said than done.

That’s why wise spiritual concepts are often overlooked and undervalued. They become buried in a flow of quotes and statements that no one pays attention to.

It all becomes even worse if a person removed from spiritual quests visits spiritual websites where spiritually advanced people discuss things like ‘energy flows’, ‘opening the heart chakra’, ‘karmic relationship’ and so on. And why wouldn’t they? But it’s easy to see that for a person not involved in these things, it sounds most weird and is a major turn off.

Energy exchange in relationships. Self-transformation. Ego death. What. Does. This. Mean?

You wouldn’t know unless you start googling these terms and Google will take you straight to the spiritual websites which talk about spiritual things for spiritually advanced people. Who has the time to read about complex spiritual concepts anyway? Yet, some of these concepts are useful for all of us, and they don’t have to be complicated.

I find some of these terms very annoying, firstly, because it’s not always clear what they mean – different people may attach different meanings to a concept, and it’s not like there’s a dictionary of spiritual terminology. Secondly, I find them annoying because I like simplicity and using strange complex terminology for simple things confuses people.

The one that springs to mind is ‘energy exchange in relationships’. One of the most annoying examples of putting a confusing term on something that is really simple and obvious.

Energy exchange in relationships

So, what do (spiritual) people mean when they refer to ‘energy exchange in a relationship’? Well, obviously apart from the process of energy exchange which I’m not touching here.

Relationship energy exchanges describe the quality and quantity of energy streaming between you and another person. …Whether your relationship is with an acquaintance, colleague, physical or mental friendship, spiritual interaction, therapeutic relationship, mothering or fathering relationship, or sexual interaction, your relationship energy exchange impacts your sense of feeling nurtured, trust, support, respect, protection, boundaries, and sense of ease. – Kimberly Rex, Windows to the Heart Repatterning -

Here’s my take on this, in plain English.

Relationship = exchange of action

Any relationship – from a monthly coffee with a friend to a spouse relationship – is an interaction. When we interact with people, we exchange actions (according to Google, an interaction is reciprocal action or influence).

These exchanges differ in nature – from financial exchange, working relationships, sexual interaction, through to more soft and vague stuff, such as exchange of emotions, information sharing, romantic attachments, etc.

Quality of exchange = what + how

We don’t just exchange tangible things, like money or sex or gifts or a nice chat, but we exchange intangible things like our mood and emotional state which are inevitably influenced by our personality, temperament, values and biases.

It's not just what we bring to the interaction, it’s about how we interact.

We all met a colleague who lost their passion for work or a rude efficient boss – they all do the right things in terms of ‘doing their jobs’, but any interaction is more than just what we’re doing, it’s about how we’re doing it – how we colour our interaction with our personality, mood and values.

Sometimes, especially in personal relationships the How is more important than the What. That’s why charming nice warm personalities leave a nicer impression after an interaction (even if they haven’t given you much in terms of tangible things), than smart arrogant assholes who gave you more but did that in a way that you want to avoid them in the future.

Size ≠ quality

We all have thousands of relationships throughout life – from mini relationships when we meet an acquaintance for a coffee twice a year, relationships with colleagues and friends, through to more profound relationships with business partners and spouses.

A conversation with a bus driver is a super mini relationship, which – yes – also comes with an exchange of actions (moods, words).

Size, frequency and length of the relationship doesn’t necessarily mean good quality and personal satisfaction. I have known people who have more trusting, open and personally satisfying conversations with friends over a cup of coffee, than with their partners and spouses.

Take = give

We smile and say ‘thank you’ to a bus driver and expect some polite behaviour in response, or at least neutral behaviour. That’s an even exchange.

We smile to a colleague and get a grumpy response. That’s not an even exchange. After several exchanges like this, we probably stop smiling to this person.

These are simple examples of interactions where people expect to exchange similar things. If people – on a regular basis - don’t get what they expect, they will most likely stop the interaction unless they like self-inflicted pain.

Call it the Law of Even Energy Exchange, or EEE, and it says: Mutual emotional, mental, physical and energetic exchanges must be roughly even in some way in order for all parties to be satisfied enough to sustain the relationship in any healthy kind of manner. – Margaret Ruth, Test Important Relationships for Even Energy Exchange | HuffPost Life

Family and friendship interactions are much more complex. We don’t always exchange similar things. For example, a husband provides for the family and the wife is a stay-at-home mum. They bring different (tangible) things into the relationship, but they also bring many intangible things which matter even more than the tangible ones. Most importantly, they bring their expectations of the relationship which don’t always match.

Motivation = expectations

Our expectations from any interaction are always based on our motivation which is anchored in our personal values. If personal values differ too much, even exchange is almost impossible or requires a lot of negotiation. This is the so called ‘working on relationships’.

Also, our motivation and expectations change.

In my 20s I was into love dramas with lots of passion and jealousy. If I couldn’t find dramas, I created them and I was good at that.

In my 30s, just before coming to New Zealand, I lost my relationship with my ex-boss, friend and mentor because of my love for dramas. So, I was desperately looking to recreate that relationship and in New Zealand built several strong mentorship relationships that incredibly helped with my professional growth.

In my 40s my main motivator for an interaction is getting little simple pleasures, a good laugh and a nice chat, light exchange and nothing serious. But I’m also prepared to share with people – if they ask me to - information, advice and my attention just because I can. This is my way of giving back.

Continuous uneven exchange = abusive relationship

Relationships are voluntary and we’re lucky to live in a society where we’re free to exit a relationship if we feel that it doesn’t satisfy our needs, and no negotiation helped.

Continuously having unsatisfactory interactions brings our self-confidence and mood down. Therefore, we can’t exchange our good mood and positive attitude with other people, so other interactions suffer, too. Our life can go downhill.

These are so called abusive relationships – from a constantly rude colleague to a friend who is never there to listen to a partner who continuously brings down your self-esteem.

Long story short, people leave relationships when they don’t feel truly satisfied (unless people are stuck in long-term abusive relationships and need help).


To sum it up

Energy exchange is about investing the same amount of effort, time and activities into the relationship, as the other person does.

So, if the other person prefers to meet you for coffee twice a year, don’t bombard them with emails every two weeks asking how they’re doing. That would be strange and the relationship will most likely stop at that.

Similarly, if I’m attempting to build a friendship or a love relationship, it’d be funny if I don’t find the time to meet with this person to actually start building the relationship.

The same amount of activity doesn’t mean the same activities, because different people bring different things into the interaction.

Our expectations and motivation are influenced by our personal values, plus the intangible soft stuff, such as emotions, moods, warm attitude, sense of humour, often outweigh the tangible things, such as money, sex, gifts, services. We can’t love a person because they provide us with money or services, but we love a person for their personality traits.

Energy exchange is about maintaining the level of personal satisfaction for each participant in the relationship.

To do that, we need to understand our own motivation and the other person’s motivation and what each of us brings to the relationship. Again, we may be bringing different things that may not seem even, but if both people are satisfied, then all is good.

For example, I find the person’s company entertaining and lifting my mood, but the person’s motivation for the relationship is getting professional advice. This relationship may not seem equal and even, but it actually is, if everyone gets what they want out of their interaction.

Time is priceless. Spend it with people you have high value and energy exchange rates with. - Amy Jo Martin
bottom of page