Relationships Are Hard Work

Unless you’re a hermit and never see another human being, you are involved in relationships to some degree and they’re not always easy to navigate. Whether it’s a marriage, dating, friendships, professional, or just the people you deal with on an ongoing basis, at some point you’re going to hit a bump or a snag in dealing with people. And while throwing up your hands and saying “screw this” is always one way to handle it, it’s obviously not a very realistic approach.

One of the challenges parents have is to teach their kids how to handle challenging people and situations and let’s face it – 9 times out of 10, it’s always with another person more than ‘just’ a situation.

I’m a big quote person… I have a book that I write my favorites down in and often draw from them when I’m faced with a difficult (or happy!!) time. I’ve used a lot of these not just for myself, but also in working with my girls and even friends and colleagues when they come to me for advice on handling a challenging time. I wanted to share a few of them with you today and get your feedback on some of your own, personal favorites!!

1. When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.

Credit to this quote goes to the fabulous Maya Angelou and it’s first because it’s my favorite and is so, so true. How many times have we each been pulled into a friendship or relationship and so impressed by how likable they are. You get along, you think things are great, this person really is pretty special and you enjoy spending time with them. Then, one day, they do something that is seemingly out of character for them and it makes you stop and wonder if something is going on in their lives to cause this shift in behavior. You may shrug it off, thinking it’s a passing thing but that original person that you thought you knew or was ‘them’ never comes back.

At this point, you have a couple of options. You can accept that this IS who they really are and keep them in your lives or you can decide that this ‘new’ version is not someone you want around sucking your energy. Either way, know this – that second version? That’s the real person you’ll be dealing with – not the one you met in the beginning. And this can go BOTH ways… the first version of the person may have been a schmuck and then they show you that they really are a good, decent human being.

2. People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Not sure who to credit this to, but another one of my favorites. I’m of the belief that nothing happens as a coincidence. If you cross paths with someone, there is a reason for it. With age and maturity, you will typically figure out which category people fall into and it becomes easier to understand and see why they’re there. Perhaps you meet someone at a networking event and they just happen to mention a person or company that you’ve been trying to work with. At that point, you crossed paths for a reason. You may never run into them again but they were sent for a reason.

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When you’re in the dating stages of your life, you may think you’ve met the person of your dreams and they’ll be there forever. Maybe. Maybe not. Your “season” together may be a year or 5 years… you never know at the onset. I’ve had friendships that I thought would last a lifetime but ended up being a season. And then you have the rarest of them all – the lifetime. I’m going to take families out of this equation because to me, that’s a given. But think about your best friends – the ones that have known you when you were still “you”.. not the married version of you… not the professional version of you… not the parent version of you. The REAL you.

You may not see them or talk to them every day, but if you need something or something major happens, you know you can rely on these people to have your back. I can count on one hand these friends in my lives and I would lay my life on the line for them at the drop of a hat and they would do the same for me. These are the true treasures in our lives. Protect them. Cherish them. Love them.

3. What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

Supposedly credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson. This one is strong and another one of my go-to’s. It falls into the “actions speak louder than words” and it is so, so, true. Words are easy to say – actions are not always easy to perform. You may really, really, want to convince someone with your words but in the end, it’s what you DO that counts. Not just in relationships, but in all things.

You say you want to lose weight and get fit. Yet you don’t make the effort to exercise, eat better, etc. You say you want to learn a new skill yet you don’t put into place the actions that it will take you to learn it. You say you want to improve your relationship(s) yet you continue to repeat the same patterns as before and nothing changes. Let’s just pretend I’m the state of Missouri – “Show Me”, don’t tell me. As I’ve gotten older, I’m much more in tune with a person’s actions than their words.

4. If someone wants to spend time with you, nothing will stop them.

This one really is more indicative of personal relationships and kind of goes hand in hand with the previous quote. It’s also one that I’ve used with my girls who are entering the big world of dating. You get so swept into the initial phases of dating where you spend a lot of time talking, texting, spending time together, making plans, and so on. You’re blinded by the excitement of it and think this may be “the one”.  Then the newness wears off and the ‘honeymoon’ phase is over and possibly the other person suddenly is making excuses or even ‘ghosting‘ on you. You wrack your brains trying to figure out what you did or said that would make them suddenly have a change of heart. You may even chase them down, asking questions, demanding answers – anything to get that original phase back. Just stop. Save your time and self-respect. They’re not worth it because if someone is into you and really wants to be with you – nothing and I mean nothing – will stop them. And if you need more convincing, go back and read #1 and #3 again.

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5. Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

Again, the great Maya Angelou and again, more or less about personal relationships. The nice thing about life and being an American is that we have options. A lot of options. We get to choose where we go, what we do, and who we do it with. If we’re lucky, we find someone who we want to do all of the above with – maybe even forever.

But if you’re pining away for someone who’s not making time for you, you’re an option to them – not a priority. You deserve to be someone’s priority so never settle. If they really want you in their lives, they’ll see that you’re self-confident enough that you don’t need them. They’ll either act accordingly or they won’t. Either way, you come out on top when you hold your standards high and true to you.

6. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Most often credited to George Horne and was based on an Italian proverb, “He that deceives me Once, it’s his Fault, but Twice it is my fault.

Everyone makes mistakes but to me, the same mistake twice is more indicative of habit and behavior than mistakes. In a relationship that has purpose and meaning, mistakes (and forgiveness) are going to happen. But if the other person (or even you) perform a “deal-breaker” mistake more than once, the only person you have to blame for either setting the record straight or perhaps even ending the situation is yourself. Because if you don’t, then you’re condoning the situation and I promise you – it will not change. Think about your kids when they tested and pushed limits and boundaries. They were figuring out which things you were okay with and which ones created swift action. We’re no different as adults.

Dealing with other humans is an ongoing, learning experience. Luckily as we get older, we instinctively know what we will and won’t put up with. As adults, we’re pulled in a million directions and if the time we’re investing with people isn’t mutually beneficial, it’s time to evaluate whether it’s worth it. Harsh? Maybe. But if you’re anything like me, you want the best people around you who give purpose to both your lives.

This list could have been so much longer… there are so many quotes that I love and ring true in life. I’d love to know what some of your favorites are and why they mean something to you!