I was exchanging emails with a friend this morning and I mentioned a rule that I have adopted recently in my life. When I mentioned it, I started to think about how it came about and what it exactly means and, frankly, if I can follow it.
The rule is pretty simple:
“Unless I know someone well, I will not go further in a friendship/relationship/partnership/etc than they are willing to go.”
It could be as simple as the notion that I won’t continue to try and call someone if they won’t return my calls. Or, it could be something like I won’t put time and effort into a work-related project if the people working on it with me aren’t as involved as I am.
This is a very difficult rule for me. I grew up with the notion that the harder I worked and the more I did for people, the more I would receive in return. In some quantifiable instances, this is most certainly true. I built my business through really just determination and hard work. But, anyone can do that. You pick something and you work at it.
With relationships (and not just the romantic persuasion), it is FAR more difficult to pin down. I’ll take the example of a band – something with which I am intimately familiar and because Chris and I were discussing this concept last night. If you have 4 or 5 people in a band who are all working at close to max capacity, you can get a tremendous amount accomplished. If even just ONE of those band members is not, the whole thing can collapse.
The same thing goes with friendships and romantic relationships. You cannot pour yourself into a relationship and expect someone to reciprocate. You’d like to believe they will. You’d like to hope they will see your efforts and respond in kind. But, that isn’t how it works.
I’m reminded of the new best-selling relationship book for women – He’s Just Not That Into You. I even have a t-shirt that says, “I’m Just Not That Into You.” I love that because it is hilarious to me, but I recognize that, many times in the past, I didn’t follow advice that would have saved me time, effort and heartbreak.
So, this rule is tough for me to follow, but I know it works. I understand the consequences if I don’t. I’ve done the work harder and get blown off thing so many times in work, friendships and relationships, I know the results and they are almost always disastrous.
I guess if I had always been the type to give nothing, I’d probably want to throw that rule in the ocean. But, I know better…
I think. 🙂