Last post we talked about relationships and it created quite a stir. It all started when I talked about how I evaluated my own. I mentioned that I didn’t “let in” certain types of people, and that if people didn’t continually bring value to my life, I stopped including them in it.
This struck some of you as cold and distant. I will plead guilty...but only up to a point.
I understand that no one here on earth is perfect, myself included. I don’t think people have to be flawless to be in relationship with me. But I also think it is quite appropriate (and quite necessary) for each of us to set boundaries.
For instance, I wouldn’t enter into a romantic relationship with anyone that smoked, had a drug addiction or other death wish behaviors. I want a relationship that will last a lifetime—why would I have it with someone who didn’t want to live?
We’ve talked the last few posts about the people that mouth small talk but don’t actually listen to you. These really come into play with casual acquaintances. With the people who are close to you, then we get into the other issues I started the discussion with: drama and dysfunction.
Some people have drama complexes. That is their choice, but I want no part of it in my life. I’m not willing to accept dysfunctional behavior either. Why would I? I lived that way for 30 years; I’ve already paid my dues. Now I am interested in spending my time with people who also choose to rise above that.
I run all areas of my life by Objectivist principles, even relationships. I believe all interactions between people must be exchanges of fair value. Anything else is relationship usury, co-dependence and dysfunction, and I want no part of that.
Now would I cut some slack to someone I loved who was going through a difficult time? Of course.
Suppose I had a wife and we had had a strong loving relationship for 10 years. Then her mother started dying, and she was caring for her for 4 months. She might be emotionally inaccessible for me, for a certain period of time, not capable of helping meet my needs. She might need me to work much harder to meet her needs. If I love her, I would understand that, and want to do that.
I also understand that there will be times when I will be facing challenges, and may not be able to contribute to a relationship in equal measure. And I would hope that my partner would love me and work with me too.
But if the relationship gets too one-sided, and stays that way, then we have crossed into a bad situation that serves neither partner. And I won’t stay together just for the sake of the goldfish. I believe relationships need work all the time. And both parties have to be willing to do that work, otherwise it can’t last.
So yes, I have a tough standard for my relationships, and I am ok with that.
What about you?
What do you give, and expect, from your relationships? Do you have relationships that bring value to your life...or diminish it? Please share your thoughts.