This post falls under the “Lessons Learned Along The Way” category. Unfortunately, it has been one of those lessons where there was a price to pay. But I suppose all good lessons require some form of payment.
Relationships are tricky.
In order for them to work, both parties have to want the same thing. Not just in romantic relationships but friendships as well. In some sense, you only have so much control and that can be hard to accept.
I have spent the last three years recovering from anxiety and depression which altered my life in a big way. I didn’t understand who I was and how these mental illnesses were effecting my life (relationships) but needless to say they had a huge impact. Thankfully, I have come to better understand myself and why I felt the way I felt. It has also taught me a lot about relationships.
My past is littered with failed relationships – romantic and friendships. A marriage to an amazing woman fell apart and countless friendships went by the wayside because I was not in a good head space. I was not as engaged in the relationships as I should have been and they broke down. I stopped doing the little things that make any relationship work. One could say I didn’t put in the effort required to make them work.
Now that I have a better grasp on who I am, I know what I want and I have been working hard to get healthy. This has required me to try harder than ever before in all areas of life…including relationships.
But here is the lesson I have learned – trying harder in relationships doesn’t always work.
I am not talking about say two people who are in relationship and want the same thing. You can try harder to be a better man or woman and save a relationship. If both people are on the same page and want the same from the relationship, working together and trying harder can save the relationship without question. All relationships require some work to be successful.
But if the other person is not thinking the same way or wanting the same type of relationship, you can try as hard as you want to make a relationship work, it won’t matter. If anything, trying harder will only make it worse.
At some point, if you get the feeling that the other person is not on the same page as you, accept that and walk away. You might not have to let go completely, but surrender to the fact that maybe it just isn’t meant to be the way you wanted it to be. By pushing too hard, you are probably going to just end up pushing that person away.
Trust that things will work out how they are meant to work out.
This is something I have just recently come to realize. This is just one example. I have a friend whom I care about a great deal. She has helped me this past year in more ways than I can articulate. A good portion of my who I am today is because of her and the time spent getting to know her. Who she is as a person, the way she conducts herself and just the general level of positive energy she gives off really has had an amazing impact on me.
In return, I have tried so hard to be the best friend that I could be. Regrettably, during the process I have tried way too hard. My actions and various things I have said, were too much and complicated everything. My hope was that our relationship could be one of those deeper connections that people have with each other that isn’t romantic.
We have had our ups and downs since we met. During the times when things haven’t been as great, my thinking process was always, “well you just have to try harder like you have been doing with your health and work and things will get back to a good place”. Not the best way to approach it.
By showing how much I cared and trying so hard, I figured she would want that same type of relationship with me. My actions and then subsequent conversations to try and clarify them have lead to misunderstandings which unfortunately only stressed the relationship. I have accepted that the relationship might not be what I envisioned, but I have learned a great lesson and I am blessed to have met her.
In the end, I know understand that trying harder won’t always work. Even with my failed marriage, “trying harder” probably wouldn’t have made a difference as by the end we weren’t on the same page. We have to accept that not everyone wants the same as what we want. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow and accept things for how they are.
Just be you.
I have never been one to need a lot of friends. I like my alone time (or time with a significant other) and don’t want to be going out all the time to do things with friends. My preference is a few friends that I form deep connections with and enjoy my time with them. Some people may want the same and you will have an amazing relationship/friendship and others may just want to be normal friends.
I’m not going to change who I am as a person. I will ALWAYS offer to do anything for a friend I care about. I will treat them to unexpected gifts, dinners or whatever. If I care about you, you will never have to question it because I will always show it or voice it. I just need to scale back at times and trust that everything will work out for the better.
Accept a relationship for what it is and don’t try to force anything. If you do, you may find yourself pushing away everyone.