Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Life is all about relationships and relationships are all about balance. We are constantly adding people and experiences to our lives intentionally or unintentionally.
There are people who drain your energy, but you work smarter to offset their impact therefore they make you better, let’s call them “shot blockers.”
There are people that bring you positive energy, let’s call them the “cheerleaders.”
There are people who work to match what you bring to the table, let’s call them “teammates.”
There are people who are watching, paying attention but don’t add or take away, let’s call them the “spectators.”
The key to healthy relationships is to be able to read the signals that people are sending you and decide what you need from them and how much you are willing to give to them.
A friend of mine, to protect the innocent I’ll call her Claire was telling me a story about someone that she had known since childhood I’ll call her Stella. Claire and Stella had been close and supportive of one another through high school and into college, but college took them on different paths. They went to different colleges, ending up in environments that introduced them to parts of themselves that they didn’t know existed. They started meeting new people and traveling to new places, and like that…their reliability to one another took a back seat. They kept in touch via text and social media but recently after Claire celebrated a big win she told Stella about it looking for her friend to share in her excitement for a goal she had absolutely crushed. Instead she was met with apathy and indifference. Claire in her disappointment realized that they didn’t have a lot in common anymore. After thinking about it she realized they had different goals for life and the things that were once the source of their connection mattered less to Claire at this stage of her life. As she told me the story she called out another time when she reached out to Stella and left the conversation feeling like she wished should could get the time back. She mentioned that she started getting jealousy vibes (click here for my thoughts on jealousy). Claire still loved her friend but found it hard to share her aspirations and success because she could tell that on the other end of the conversation there was likely to be more indifference or maybe even shade. As Claire was telling me this story I paused and thought to myself, how hard it must be to stop loving someone, but rather than be disappointed in what they’re not you can make the choice to love them from afar.
There is a common misconception that once someone is in your life that they will forever beentitled to reserve their proximity to you. Each relationship that youparticipate in should represent a clearheaded choice in which you choose togive your time and energy to another person. When that choice begins to feellike a chore it is your responsibility to reevaluate and balance of how you arespending your time and energy. All relationships function on a sliding scaleand require two willing parties. There are times when the relationship requires more and there are times when the relationship requires less based on the needsof the people in the relationship. This applies to your parents, siblings,first cousins, friends (fill in the relationship of your choice). If you find yourself feeling obligated to be what you once were to them despite who theyare to you now take a moment to pause. I suggest you reevaluate your needs and howthe current relationship fits into your life. Maybe give the relationship some space and lovethem from afar.
You have some options on how to proceed based on how you want to see the relationship goforward.
You can employ the
“Checkthe box” check in via social media with no expectations of needing to hearfrom them.
“Eyeto Eye” wait until the next time you will both be in the same place and feel things out in person.
“OpenBook” invite them toa heart to heart and tell them what you are feeling.
“FallBack” don’t reachout for a while and see what happens.
Adulting and relationships are complicated because humans are complex creatures. If someone you care about has changed, from a cheerleader to a spectator that is going to feel strange. There is a chancethat they are oblivious to the change or they could be choosing to focus their intentions elsewhere.
I suggest you start by intentionally forgiving them for not being who you need them to be and then create enough space between the two of you that both of you have the opportunity to reflect and be reminded of your appreciation for one another. This space and time will enable you both to see what you are wanting/needing out of the relationship and will give you the opportunity to assess whether or not that is doable on both parts. No matter what happens find gratitude for what you meant to one another. I don’t recommend “canceling” someone you still have love for but, rather than continuing to be disappointed sustain the distance, always wish them well, be your authentic self, protect your energy and love them from afar. If or when life brings you back together take it one day at a time…
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