We live in a time where we’re led to believe that relationships should be easy. We learn from movies, books, and conventional wisdom that when relationships are right they should just work. We’re told in a million different ways: “don’t force it.”
As a kid, my dad used to say these same words to me but in an entirely different context. Whenever I’d try to put things together (notably Kinder Surprise toys, and in university, IKEA furniture) I’d try to force things and he’d heed his usual warning. An engineer, my dad has always been interested in how things are designed and meant to work. He’s your typical read-the-instructions-thoroughly-before-beginning kind of guy. So he’d always urge me to slow down instead of forcing it – to think it through and figure out the proper way to make those toy or furniture pieces fit together like a puzzle, and I would roll my eyes with impatience.
Recently I remembered this anecdote, and made an unexpected connection. It’s so like me to often use my dad’s words with metaphors like this, but I think he was right with his “don’t force it” philosophy in more ways than he realized – specifically, when it comes to relationships. We shouldn’t force them, nor should we hold so tightly to our beliefs that “things should be easy” that we throw them away the second they get hard. Instead, if you feel a relationship in your life isn’t working (whether it’s a friendship or a romantic one), slow down and examine it a little closer. Step back and evaluate whether or not both parties fit together. As humans we’re inherently social creatures; we’re designed to work together and sometimes, because of our differences, we have to find a medium before finding the closest exit.
Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself before jumping the gun and calling it quits on a relationship:
- What are you holding onto that might be getting in the way of connecting with this person?
- How can you put yourself into this person’s shoes to better understand their perspective and their actions?
- What can you do to make things run more smoothly between you and this person? What can you ask them to do?
Of course, I’m not suggesting you stay in relationships that no longer serve you, or put up with unsupportive people for an unnecessarily long time; I think that we’ve been conditioned to be a little hasty when it comes to who we give our time and energy to. No one is perfect and no relationship will be free of problems or bumps in the road. In our age of instant gratification it’s important to remember this before we let go and move on. What do you think? Do we tend to let go too quickly?