Balancing interaction accounts
Relationships between people can only endure when the parties diligently honor the balance on their interaction account. Or, for me to reward the sharing of your thoughts with attention and enthusiasm, you must be willing to do the same.
A deficit on the interaction account can only exist for so long, before the relationship becomes in need of evaluation. The likely outcome being, that I'll write off the investment already made, if I can't reasonably expect it too improve shortly. No need to keep throwing attention or other social valuables after a under-performer. I have few reservations in viewing the investment already made as a sunk cost.
The actual balance is not only linked to the amount of time or quantity of the sessions, though, but also in the quality of its givings. You can have my attention for five discussions, and yet a single sharing of my personal trivia, which brings around the right giving reponse, can balance the account.
Scoring interactions is fuzzy science and individual. This explains why some people just aren't compatible. Their scoring techniques are too different.
Say, I value heated discussions, you the sharing of daily life trivia. Each exchange will bring my balance further out of sync with yours, until one of us deems it necessary to evaluate the relationship. That will be the point of no return, and the relationship will change. We'll loose interest in the relationship.
The development of individual scoring over time could also explain how some people grow apart. Advances in human insight, education, and personal preferences all change the personal scoring equation, and as we move through life, it's likely to become incompatible with the equation held by people we used to be able to have social exchanges with.
No one, of course, tracks this as explicitly or knowingly as outlined here. But the balance is always in our minds. When the balance is good, we look forward to further social exchanges. When the balance is bad, we dread them.
Be mindly of the balance on your interaction accounts. Acknowledge change in your personal equation. Drop bad investments, nourish the good.
(Ralph links and calls my view of the world "very honest" — Thanks Ralph!)