On New Year’s Eve, I began thinking about my different relationships. In my head, they range along a broad spectrum of quality and fulfillment.
First there are those relationships that I feel unreservedly good about. Then there are those that I tend to take for granted, and those I need to keep stable (such as with my housemates and my landlord) in order to make it for another month without upset.
At the other end, there are those relationships with people who I just don’t care about anymore (or never cared about) and who I wish would just go away of their own volition. Similarly, there are those with people who I do care about and would like to keep current with, but for the work involved, or the suffering – or fear – that the thought of them causes. For too long, these people have been too needy, too demanding, too dull, too smug, or too unavailable. And in some cases, I’ve just decided that these people don’t have what I want in my life right now.
In the middle of the spectrum are the relationships I wish were stronger. Some of these offer potential to bring me good things in the future, provided I can be patient, and put in the work in the meantime. Many of these are not really relationships at all. They’re just contacts and connections – business cards in a box, email addresses in my Inbox, numbers in my cell phone. As such, these are almost worthless. I could lose nothing from getting rid of them.
Now I have a great girlfriend and solid male friendships, and I haven’t had to feel lonely – or unwanted – for a long time. My track record of making all of these relationships myself gives me confidence that I can make more. Perhaps because of this, I notched back my tendency to “plan all the way to the end”, particularly with those people I have a “use” for. Now I can just take building the relationship one step at a time – one meeting, one event, one party, one note, one idea, one shared laugh.
But there are still improvements to make. Last year was about articulating some standards around relationships. This year it may be time to stand up and act in accordance with those standards. After all, I only have so much energy to put into any relationship.
So this New Year, I’m making an effort to touch the people who I have developed these most desired relationships with, to let them know that they are important to me. I’m doing the essential work to bring these relationships current in a new year. I’m reaching out to current and past customers, people who’ve given me their time or advice, and people who have sought out my attention or input.