How Relationships Should Work

 Photo by Elisabetta Foco

Photo by Elisabetta Foco

I think most would agree that they want their relationships to go deep, rather than wade at the surface. Connecting with people on a deep level is what gives meaning to life.

When you think of relationships, whether intimate or friendships, getting to a deeper level should happen naturally because you’ve built up experiences over time.

Getting to the place when you can truly be yourself and trust each other is a wonderful state—this is the goal of a relationship.

There are times when the opposite happens, when things remain passive despite how many times you try to cross a bridge with someone.

Have you ever been locked in a cycle where it never gets past a certain point, almost as if there’s an invisible wall blocking your efforts?

What you have to realize is that with some people, there is an invisible wall. Some can come down with effort, but others will never budge. This is not your fault.

Imagine when you spend time with a person or a group of people because your partner is close with them. You do your best to connect and become close. Sometimes you put in years, trying to fit in, do all the right things, but they don’t reciprocate.

Your sense of duty is well-intentioned, but who losses in this scenario? What is the point of maintaining these relationships out of mere obligation?

Relationships should bring value to both parties—not be a drain and make you uncomfortable all the time.

There comes a point when being disregarded and treated like an outsider gets old. Imagine if you’ve been trying to build a relationship with someone for seven years!

It’s ok to want what you want if you set your best intention first, both for the other person and for yourself. In this case, you want something meaningful.

Invisible walls exist in relationships. It might be for cultural or personal reasons.

If you’ve made an honest effort to build a relationship with someone and it’s not reciprocated, then it's not a relationship. It’s more like passive spiritual abuse when you're expected to do right by everyone else, but no one does right by you.

Here’s how relationships should work:

  1. Should be positive (enrich)

  2. Should be mutual (trust)

  3. Should connect on a deep level (growth)

If it doesn't meet these criterion, you’re wasting your time. Why maintain superficial relations that go no further than mechanical pleasantries?

I’ve been guilty of hanging around people that don’t meet this criterion. Why hang around people that don’t make me feel good about myself, and deep down, I know I can’t trust them?

I know I’m not the only one, but a lot of people stay around because they feel obligated to do so.

If things aren't getting anywhere, it’s not your fault. If you’ve made a honest effort, accept that the other party is unwilling to connect or doesn't know how. It’s not your job to fix that. It’s their own fear that creates this lack of trust.

If you constantly put yourself out there and are getting emotionally beat up, you're running into an invisible wall.

You didn’t create this wall so stop taking responsibility for it. It’s there, packed tight, and sometimes it won’t come down no matter how hard you hit it. Acknowledge that it’s there, accept it, and move on.

If you punch a wall as hard as you can, you will break your hand. The wall remains untouched. Don’t bang your head against it. You can't always put yourself out there and expect that someone will do the same. They might be unwilling.

There’s not need to hang around walled people—life's too short and beautiful to waste your energy on those who don't want to connect with you. You’re are allowed to cut people out.

Have you ever noticed how you can immediately like a person and immediately dislike another?

Without getting into mind-reading mumbo jumbo, we have an instinct that can sense whether or not a person has an invisible wall or not. The best relationships are the ones that never have a wall to begin with.

There are three different stages:

  • No Invisible Wallimmediate connection. You are open and they are open. It’s natural.

  • Temporary Invisible Wallcrumbles after a little work. Some people misjudge each other, but give you the chance to convince them otherwise. If you probe a little further, and you see the structure weakening, there’s potential for a real connection.

  • Indestructible Invisible Wall—danger! You will get hurt here. You make countless efforts but the wall doesn’t come down. Don’t kill yourself over it. You will be the only one that gets hurt, not the other person or persons.

You have to know when it's in your best interest to pack up camp and move it down the river. Don’t be mean about it. Just know that you put in a solid effort. Sticking around because you feel obligated to do so is not worth sacrificing your own self worth.