“Be honest, brutally honest. That is what’s going to maintain relationships” Lauryn Hill
“Relationships are like cooking; don’t waste time on bad recipes” Nick Cannon
“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” David Tyson Gentry
“And he still gives his love, he just gives it away. The love he receives is the love that is saved” Eddie Vedder
Do you have a relationship that, by promoting it, you feel your energy draining? That you feel the need to criticise and gossip about? Ignites bad feelings? Brings out the worse version of you? Then you’re probably anchored.
Relationships can be anchors. Detrimental ones prevent us from being and giving more; take away our time; eat away at our health; make us lesser human beings.
When someone is draining my positive energy, making me resentful and ruminate over every little thing said and done, then it’s time I stop and take a good look at what’s happening there. It’s time to reflect and take action accordingly.
My first step is to ask relevant questions: “How did this relationship start? Why do I preserve it?”; “Is it adding value to anyone? Or, just anxiety?”; “Are our values aligned?”; “Is it worth fixing?”
Ideally, the second step is to give and ask for feedback. I am not the best at this approach, so I deliberately distance myself – I’m working on it, but unless said person shares the same values, I can’t see the point in making the effort to fix it.
I have also been working on being more acceptant of differences by not judging immediately nor engaging in small talk. I don’t know why, but there’s an immediate gratification in gossiping and it’s very easy to embark on such conversations, but in the end they bring nothing but emptiness and even frustration.
At varied levels and intensities, we are all social beings. We need relationships in our lives to feel and be better, more complete, to grow. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to choose convenient, nearby relationships because it requires a reduced amount of effort. We invest in relations based on ‘common interests’.
Whilst common interests are really nice to have, I don’t see them as structural elements as far as relationships go, I see them as ornaments – interests in common can add immense value but are not essential in building a significant association.
I have had relationships based on… not much really, mainly convenience and proximity – a co-worker; a parent whose kid is in the same swimming class as mine; a compatriot met halfway across the world; a friend of a friend; a futsal teammate. We don’t have much we share and in some cases is just that one commonality – work; parenting; citizenship; a friend; an interest.
The assessment of my connections has led me to a few conclusions:
- I am extremely lucky. I have meaningful relationships;
- Shared values are the true foundations of any meaningful relationship;
- My time is precious – It is to be spent with the people I already have proven and reciprocally reliable relationships. This doesn’t mean I’m not open to new ones, it just means I give priority to those I already know to be fruitful;
- Fertile relationships grow stronger (rather than apart), based on enormous effort and bilateral contribution.
Yet another type of relationship is one where it is beneficial to one of the parties alone. A relationship, where value is added to one and not the other. The way I see it, and as long as the benefits retrieved from that side don’t entail a negative impact on the other, I’m all up for this type of arrangement… I see it as contribution.