Relationships with people are similar to our relationships with our cars.
Just go with me on this analogy for a minute.
You have a reciprocal relationship with your car. If you care for it properly and give it what it needs- gas, maintenance, tires, cleaning, etc., it will “reciprocate” by being reliable, efficient, and safe transportation and you’ll likely keep it for many years.
On the other hand, if despite your efforts, your car guzzled gas, didn’t start most of the time, and broke down frequently—you’d get rid of it, wouldn’t you? The cost of having the car would far outweigh the benefit—no reciprocity there.
We learn to stop investing and cut our losses in a car that doesn’t run, so why do some of us continue to put our time and energy into relationships that don’t work for us?
Human relationships also require reciprocity to work. When each person meets the needs of the other, the relationship works. When there is no reciprocity and one person is doing all the investing and the other is doing nothing positive, the relationship isn’t working and might need to end.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be “giving” people or shouldn’t make sacrifices for others. Being a good friend, coworker, employee, child, or neighbor, often requires putting others above ourselves. However, there comes a time when you’ve tried everything to maintain a relationship and the other person just doesn’t do his or her part. When that time comes, it’s time to cut them loose. Here’s what I mean:
Does your mom or dad, despite your requests, belittle you, your spouse, or children? Maybe it’s time to stop visiting, taking his or her calls, or allowing him or her to come to your home—if only temporarily?
Do you have a boss who repeatedly uses sarcasm and humiliation to let you know that “he owns you?” Maybe it’s time to get a new job, or three jobs if you need to.
Do you have a “friend” who has never been there for you, but always expects you to be there for him or her? Maybe it’s time you say, “Our relationship isn’t working for me” and stop calling, responding to her his or her calls, etc.
Before you say, “that’s easy to say, bet you’ve never done it,” I’ve done each of the things above at different points in my life and never regretted any of them.
Again, as a person who believes communication can solve most problems, I believe we should communicate with the person and exhaust all options before ending a relationship. However, when you’ve done that to no avail …
Cut ’em loose.