Relationships require work. And I’m not strictly referring to the romantic sorts (though Lord knows those sure as heck demand work). The strength of your connections with the people in your life (such as your friends, your family, your coworkers, your mail lady) simply requires work—on both ends. And if you’re the only one investing any time, effort and energy into your relationship, then you should probably rethink the whole thing.
It isn’t until now as a young woman that I (with the brutal honesty of loved ones) came to realize this: it is honestly unfair and exhausting to be investing so much into a relationship while the other person fails to do the same.
You know exactly what I mean (and if you don’t, then you’re one lucky piece of cheese).
Now I’m not referring to situations in which one person is acting all clingy and suffocative and is always pleading for attention. That, my dears, is overall unhealthy and could be signs of abuse.
I’m talking about relationships in which those involved promise they love each other, yet only one takes the initiative to keep in contact, make plans, check to see if the other person is still alive. That other person rarely, if ever, does the same. And it shouldn’t matter how busy each person gets because, in the end, as true as it is that we all get occupied with other things in life, none of that should stop any of us from reaching out and saying hello to the people we swear we love.
So, if you’re involved in a half-baked relationship like this, what do you do? Honestly, I can’t tell you what you absolutely, must do. That’s up to you (and the other person if you decide to discuss this issue with her/him/zir). But what I can tell you is this: there are others in your life to focus your energy on than just this one relationship. It’s sure as hell is true for me, and I hope the same for you.
But if you need to be a reminded of whom else in life you can be investing your energy in, here are four:
1. God: Actually, God is supposed to be what our hearts, minds and souls are centered on. Yet I know from personal experience that that is really difficult to do, never mind comprehend. Even so, God trumps all. What this means is that, whether or not you’re religious, there is something greater and more incredible and more awe-inspiring than us in our world. The fact that you’re breathing and your heart is beating is proof of that. Appreciate that. Have faith in that. Pray. Meditate. Attend a service. Enjoy the sunlight. Thank God, the universe, the stars that you’re here. Focus on your beliefs, your faith, your relationship with this greatness, and you might even feel too at peace to care so much about the little things.
2. Family: In the case that it isn’t a family member that fails in returning the love (and if it is, consider your other relatives), for once think about the people who have been in your life who have known you (or commits to being with you) forever. We sometimes stress so much about being that perfect someone for others that we tend to forget about those who we don’t have to stress with at all. Case in point, my sisters. I love them so much and we have such a healthy, positive relationship, yet, silly me, I occasionally forget that we’re best friends, bound in blood, and that our siblingship, our friendship, deserves the best attention.
3. Other people (e.g. friends, acquaintances, co-workers): While you’re getting hung up over a person who straight up fails in maintaining her/his/zir end of the relationship, you’re probably failing in maintaining your relationship with somebody else. Go talk to her/him/zir! The person may not be your bestie or sibling or someone you really know, but she/he/ze is still someone in your life. Think about the way you’re treating that person. Mail carrier? Smile, ask about her/his/zir morning. Old college friend? Catch up over an expensive latte. Annoying new coworker? At the very least, say “good morning.” Point is, there are more people in our lives, and it’s time we recognize that. Also, being all the more interactive with people can lead to a relationship you’ll both might want to uphold.
4. You: You’re awesome (well, I would like to think you are). I possibly don’t know you, but you’ve probably accomplished amazing goals in your life. And you’re probably craving for more. Again, you’re living. So take care of yourself. Work up a sweat. Treat yourself to guilty pleasures. Exercise your mind with studies. Get better sleep. Smile more. You are a living, breathing machine. Focus on yourself—inside and out—because your first best friend (besides God) should always be you.
I’m not at all suggesting that you necessarily slice and dice any relationships that seem to be sapping your time and energy. That might be one of the best decisions in your life (from personal experience, it can relieve your shoulders of such a heavy burden), or it can be one of the most heart-aching (annndd, again, from personal experience, it can hurt when a once meaningful connection is abruptly shut down).
Actually, perhaps the best thing to do first would be to talk to the other person about this issue. Let her/him/zir know about how and why you’re feeling the way you do. Try not to be aggressive or confrontational; that might trigger defensiveness and lead to a situation (i.e. fight) more destructive than productive. Talking about it might be the (rather obvious) solution. After all, she/he/ze can’t read your mind (unless Jean Grey is who you’re having trouble with) and honestly might not realize her/his/zir behavior!
If, however, a talk doesn’t solve anything or if this isn’t a relationship you think is worth fixing, then I suggest reeling back on it. Reflect her/his/zir efforts. Rarely contacts you? Stop contacting her/him/zir on a daily basis. Rarely makes plans? Stop stressing so much about arranging plans for every single occasion. This person sure as hell doesn’t seem to be appreciating your efforts, but someone else (like any of those that I’ve listed) might instead.
These words of mine spring from a place of experience and countless moments of disappointment, oftentimes with the same person. But I’m older, more mature and damn well know better now than I did as a teenager. You don’t have to heed to my advice, but know this: I feel so much happier and relieved concentrating more time, energy and effort onto those who do the same for me. And those are the type of relationships we all deserve.