Back in the days when phones weren’t so common and emails were more common among friends, this incident is from those days.
I used to be in regular correspondence with a friend of mine. And I had a very quick response time always. So, there was this one time when work schedules got pretty hectic as we were gearing up for an event and I didn’t have a chance to reply to this friend’s email for much longer than usual. My friend waited and after some weeks, made a casual call. I was thrilled to hear this friend. We casually spoke for some time about all things under the sun and I was mentioning what I was up to. And towards the end of the conversation, my friend casually mentioned something like, ‘good to know all is well with you. I didn’t hear back for so long I was wondering what happened.’ That’s when it occurred to me that I hadn’t replied. But the way this friend gently brought it to my awareness, without blaming me or persecuting me, or expecting me to say a sorry, just stood out so much. I hadn’t experienced such graciousness in this context before.
I never forgot that simple phone call. There were no dialogues like, “you are big people now. Why will you remember me? You are too busy for me. I am not important to you. Why did you not reply?” There was no sense of entitlement from the other end that I owed a response because my friend sent me an email. It was more like – “I enjoy your emails. And trust you are doing well. Just a casual call. Take your time. There’s no hurry”. It was such a pleasant reaction from my friend’s end and hence, such a pleasant memory for me even today. Even though we rarely talk today as both of us are engrossed in our own lives, I always cherish this particular friend of mine for being patient and gracious at all times. There weren’t any demands that I “had to” meet. And hence, I looked forward to meeting and always gave it my best. Because the equation was drama-free, stress-free. More understanding than expectations.
When we project too much of our fears as expectations in our relationships, there tends to be a lot of conflicts. We might appear overbearing and high maintenance – too much to handle sometimes. Relationships are not to fulfill our sense of vacuum that we feel within or to validate our existence. That is something only we can do for ourselves. If we expect others to validate our sense of self – it’s a lot and it’s never going to suffice. Relationships are a pleasure when we are so filled with love from within for ourselves and the world, that we naturally overflow with that capacity to love and understand others. We don’t try to dictate terms or run high voltage dramas with each other. We don’t overdo because we want them to feel our love. We do just what’s healthy!
That said, if we are having a relationship that is constantly upsetting, one part is to check what are we doing (or not doing/expecting) that’s creating that friction – the second thing is to understand what’s the other person’s style too. If there’s a repetitive pattern in someone that is getting to you – find ways to respectfully communicate the effect that you are having on yourself when you see that pattern. But not demand that they become something else. If there are enough understanding and rapport, people will be mindful of each other. If there isn’t, then you might just be placing your demands and the other might have their own reasons for not fulfilling them either.
And if you realize that it is a one-way relationship where you are the one who’s keeping the relationship going, take a call on whether this is the best use of your time and energies. Is it desperation to have someone or is it mutually healthy? Sometimes we have friends who are like one-way traffic. We can reach them only when they want us. Not necessarily the other way around. In that case, instead of fooling ourselves or forcing the relationship to continue, keep a safe distance. Relationships have to be win-win, otherwise, they aren’t balanced. They aren’t ecological. When I say win-win, it isn’t about materialistic win. But it is where both feel valued and invested in it. It takes two to tango. And the sooner we realize, the faster we’ll stop trying to keep dead things alive. When we try to desperately keep dead relationships alive for our own insecurities and our inability to build new meaningful ones, it makes us appear desperate and makes people go further away. So, not to be egoistic, but love yourself enough to understand when relationships stop being ecological. Maintain healthy relationships.
If someone has usually been kind, and they have an off day, rather than demanding them to be kind or getting disappointed with them for not being so, it is our turn to understand them and be kind. People are good to us not because we are entitled for their goodness. But because they chose to be so. We are not entitled for anything in this world. Whatever we get is a blessing. What goes is a blessing too. Don’t always expect the same thing from the same person. Times change, emotions change, we change too. And it is essential to evolve. Not a misery to be suffered.
What naturally comes to you is yours, what you effortfully get for yourself will just be an effort to maintain, for as long as it lasts! Wishing you fill your love buckets and have pleasantness within and around you! God bless!