“I’d really like to be with you, I think we’re a good match” I proclaimed.
“Well I have feelings for you, but I don’t know if our personalities are a good match.”
“Okay, can you be a bit more specific.”
“Well, what do I get out of this?” She asked.
I felt like a dear in the headlights. “What are you talking about?”
“I feel like I’m going to put a lot of energy into this and I’m going to get nothing back.”
I felt like Muhammed Ali had just socked me in the gut. All this time my head was on cloud nine. She didn’t want to be with me. Just like that, my blimp of delusion came crashing down. Maybe I wasn’t as impressive as I had believed.
“What the $%$ I am doing?” I asked myself.
I was consumed with me, myself, and I, and somehow expected her to fully return my gesture.
Yeah. Heartbreak sucks, but sometimes we need it. I look back and see how far I’ve come since then; started my blog, found my career direction, and graduating from school. I probably wouldn’t have redirected myself if I had gone into that relationship.
I’ve failed many times, but every time I became wiser.
What is this value thing everyone talks about anyway? That is the meat and bones of this post. Value runs like clockwork. The world revolves around the exchange. The baker makes bread, and we pay for it.
My favorite songwriter Father John Misty sings:
“Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity.”
Maybe it is. Value is not solely material though. I’m not rich, but I am continually working on myself. That is value.
Relationships are more than economic opportunities.
Here are some ways you can feel better about yourself, offer more value in your personal relationships, and hopefully save yourself time and energy later on:
Not everything needs to be shared:
While it can be helpful to get the emotional weight off your chest, be aware how often you’re leaning on other people for support. I’m not advocating you never share feelings, but don’t be surprised if your repeated doom and gloom stories are being met with dull eyes from those around you.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
– Bob Marley
Your problems are not others to carry for you. We all go through a rough patch from time to time, but the goal is learning to process these difficulties on our own. We can look to others our whole lives for assurance and never find it. We must be our own advocate and give ourselves the validation and acceptance we seek.
I learned about this concept in the book “How to be in adult relationships” by David Richo. No matter how strongly we desire a relationship or a partner, seventy-five percent of our emotional needs should be acquired from ourselves. This way we relate to others free from attachment. At the same time, it’s critical we don’t trick ourselves into thinking we’re free from external emotional needs.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of our soul.”
– Khalil Gibran
Relationships are a dance. Each person needs to give even push and pull. If we’re always asking and wanting, then our foundation is lost. One effective way to maintain this balance is to have an activity or hobby that you feel invested in. This could be part of your work as well. Relationships are always in flux, however, if we have a passion that remains constant we’re not as sidetracked by the winds of change.
You might believe the most important factor in adding value to relationships is having lots of money and living extravagantly. Let’s be clear that external factors are not a substitute for intrinsic value. Money can offer new and exciting experiences, but that means little if we’re not present during those moments. In past relationships whether with friends or partners, I often I drifted off in conversation thinking about the next thing I wanted to say. The urge to speak your mind can be incredibly strong but realize that sometimes it’s best to let that thought go no matter how important it seems.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
Regardless of our circumstances give the person in front of you your full attention. Even if you don’t feel engaged with the conversation, see through the perspective of the other person. Ask questions, make connections, you’d be surprised at what can be learned through tuning in and getting out of your own head.
Do what you do best:
There are a lot of people who claim they don’t have a passion or believe they’re not good at anything. They settle for roles in their careers or relationships that reflect this lack of purpose. This is one part of the “75/25” principle. If we don’t have hobbies and interests, and relationships are the focus of our lives, our way of relating to others becomes unhealthy.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.”
People want to surround themselves with others who have purposeful lives. Why? Because we find these people attractive. They have something to offer. Who do you want to surround yourself with? Sometimes asking this question can be a jarring wake-up call, because we realize how often we’ve neglected our own development. Better learn now than never. Start by making a list of activities or interests that you’ve wanted to try, and make a plan of action. Cut the excuses.
If you start focusing your energy on any one of these points of value, you will see that your perspective will change and also how you relate to others will shift. Offering more value is not solely about looking impressive and attracting people. What I’m getting at here is being grounded in yourself and building your self-worth day by day. Naturally, more opportunities for relationships will present to you.