All relationships fall into these two categories
One fades over time while the other will always keep growing
I was engaged once. When it ended, no one saw it coming - including us. We rarely fought, our family and friends loved us together, we had a lot of shared interests, and we were clearly in love. To this day, I still think he is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met.
I was the one who ended it. We were in the process of planning our wedding and it would be a simple affair and yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve managed complex multi-million dollar projects but for whatever reason, I couldn’t plan my own wedding. I knew it was a sign that I simply wasn’t ready. But what I didn’t know was why.
For years, when people asked, “Why did it end?” I didn’t have a simple answer. It wasn’t cold feet. I wasn’t afraid of commitment, and neither was he. To help me understand myself, I would always ask happy couples I met to describe what they thought made their relationship work. With the help of their answers and after years of introspection, I finally understood why.
I realized that every time I entered a relationship in the past, I always asked myself, “What am I getting out of this relationship?” when I should have been asking, “What can I give to this relationship?”
Relationships take work and I always walked away at the slightest hint of effort. I took it as a sign that it was no longer functioning. In fact, the opposite is true. When both sides put in effort, it’s a sign that the relationship is flourishing. If both people are thinking of themselves, the relationship can only stagnate and deteriorate.
To remind myself of this now, I created the analogy of a garden needing shade and you have a choice of doing it with a giant plastic umbrella or a tree. Both will provide shade but one will only fade with time while the other always continues to grow. With the umbrella, you know exactly what you’re getting. It requires minimal effort but it is inflexible. With the tree, you never know what you’re getting and it always requires work but it can provide so much more than just shade. It will change and grow with you.
Which relationships do you have? The umbrella or the tree? More importantly, which do you want?
If you’re interested in exploring these concepts more, I wrote an article about it recently.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Simply hit “reply” on the email. Thank you to those who write - it always means a lot. Have a wonderful weekend :)