If a relationship is not benefiting you, you end it – right? This harsh proposition is a pungent norm in our society often applied to both romantic relationships and friendships. Although it seems to stir within us a murmuring jolt of protest. ‘Give it a go for a while’ we say, ‘just see how it goes, if they continue frustrating you and not fit your needs, then it’s okay to end it.’ Such conditional sentiments settle any initial concerns because you’ve extended a little grace which deflects the claim that you’re the one acting selfishly.
It’s important to challenge societal norms and question their legitimacy, particularly in terms of practical outcomes. To challenge the norm that you end a relationship if it isn’t benefiting you requires consideration of our construction of the value of a relationship.
How do we view our relationships?
A relationship needs to be about what’s fair and good for me. I don’t want a friendship or relationship where I am not loved or looked after in the way that I want to be. I deserve the best. Wouldn’t you think the same?
There’s the problem.
We want the friendship or relationship to be focused on us and suit our own needs and desires. I’m not saying that if you’re in an abusive or cheating relationship to continue with it. I’m also not endorsing unloving behavior in a relationship. But I want us to consider where our focus is when we thinking about our friendships and relationships. Most of the time, our focus is on ourselves.
What happens when we change the focus from ourselves to others?
If friends or spouses feel that we care for their interests before our own, it removes doubt that we will just ‘up and leave’ or get the bags-a-packin’ at the first real upset. Instead it creates trust and room for forgiveness. This in turn softens the heart of the other person and makes it much easier for them to really listen to your concerns rather than jump onto the defensive foot immediately.
Removing the doubt creates a space of comfort and security between you. Suddenly you are freed up to be your true self in a way that builds intimacy, which endures both the ups and downs of life.
Girls, think of that loyal friend who you can visit in your daggiest tracky dacks, make up free and then laugh about the time in school you were awful cats to each other. Guys, think about the friend you don’t need to put your ‘macho’ on with or feel you have to discuss your next big purchase. These people are nice to be around. You are comfortable with them. This is because you have created a relationship you feel secure in. Often this flows from tough times where you’ve been hurt but extended love and forgiveness anyway.
So do you just end the friendship/relationship?
I’ve been challenged and reminded this week that the answer is no, you don’t just end it!
Persist. Keep loving them. Look past yourself and your own needs. Be humble. You’ll be amazed at the growth in your relationship. The lame quote, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is fairly true here!
Ask yourself, what type of friend are you? Is your focus on your needs or theirs?
‘There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.’ Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)
Have you seen changes in a relationship where you’ve put the other persons good before your own?