American pop singer and sister of famed super group The Jackson Five, Janet Jackson, Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty, rewrote and performed the 1986 hit song “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” casting some shade on her then recent ex-husband, singer James DeBarge, and asserting a “strong” counter to what had been widely perceived as a sweet pop-persona. At the time, she attributed the mood of the album to be one of self-defense.
Whatever the motivation, the song has become, for some, at least, an anthem for demanding one’s due: “You may have been valuable to me in the past, but you need to be valuable to me now. If not, get out.” Perhaps it is inure to the human condition. We love those who seem to love us.
OK, but how far can one take the notion? What can we reasonably expect, or even demand, from those with whom we are in relationships? Attention? Time? Physical appearance? Age? Gifts? Acquiescing? Priority? In business, our intentions are drawn up in contracts with end dates, exits and provisions for renegotiation. We do X and Y, they do A and B, and we decide if we still like the deal every 24 months. But, human interactions are more complicated. They rarely come with an end point. They always change, and we routinely fail to be rational. But is our need reasonable or is it entirely insatiable?