Have you been making time to take care of your partner? Do you know that you have the time and the wherewithal to do so? Do you know that your energy can make a powerful impact on your partner? If this is in question, please re-read last week’s blog.
Last week, I left you with a note that we would touch on short and long-term investing in relationships. If you have forgotten how investing has relevance in relationships, please read Sacrifice: A Tool for Manipulation in Relationships.
People can be irritating. Particularly when they do things differently than we do. I value supporting the success of relationships. But not everyone feels that way. Some don’t care about people outside of their inner circle; some don’t have or want an inner circle. Savers and spenders, vegans and carnivores, early birds and night owls. For every movie heralded as great, some people don’t like it. And just as some are invested in creating long-term relationships, others are interested in creating short-term relationships.
Have you ever felt used? Like someone took advantage of you? Have you felt as though a person you helped was not there for you when you needed help? If you are anything like me, if and when this happened, you felt betrayed and irate.
“River is a user. The phone was answered when River could get something out of me. But after that, River won’t return a phone call or even an email if there’s nothing that’s of obvious benefit.”
I wasn’t sure how to handle this yucky feeling until I had an honest conversation with myself.
We are all in relationships with the intent of getting something out of them. I cannot think of one exception to this. I am even married because I intend to get something out of it. There is no altruism here. I am not doing it for her. I am doing it for me, and she is undoubtedly in the relationship for her own interests. There are no unselfish acts. At some point we all expect a return on our investment. However, a challenge that often requires consideration is whether we are short-term or long-term investors.
In the stock market, compare the short and long-term dynamic to day traders and position traders. A day trader is invested for a day. A position trader is positioned for the long-term. Which is better? Which is honorable? Which is dishonorable? Based on my thoughts about River, I viewed the day trader as a self-centered user and the position trader as the caring and better of the two. I was short-sighted.
I asked myself, why did I write off River as a user? It was because short-term investors have a different investment strategy than I prefer. River functions differently than I. This understanding can have far-reaching impact.
If my wife and I have differing investing strategies, we can end up angry with each other in a variety of circumstances. If I like to nurture relationships, answer all phone calls, and go to everyone’s baby shower, I am considering myself a long-term investor. If my wife doesn’t answer phone calls, doesn’t take anyone up on their invitations to visit, and doesn’t support them unless she needs something from them immediately, I am considering her a short-term investor. This landscape is ripe for conflict, if we are not careful and caring.
If the two of us butt heads because she does not want my friends at the house or because I want more friends at the house than she does, we would be charged with working through the challenge. Many of us would turn to right vs. wrong conversations. I am right, and she is wrong, or vice-versa. A judgmental culture of that nature would challenge most relationships.
Long-term investors, we can use a few strategies when dealing with people so that our toes are not stepped on and so that others aren’t burdened by our expectations. One is to enjoy the moment. If we allow people to show up when they want and how they want with the complete understanding that they may not meet our expectations, then we mitigate the potential damage to our egos and feelings. This doesn’t take much, particularly if we do this with everyone.
Once expectations are minimized or eliminated, we can make small investments and see how others treat our investment. If they respond in a way that we are comfortable with, then we may wish to invest more at a later time. Allow the track record to build based on who people are showing us they are. And even when we meet and connect with another long-term investor, let’s enjoy the moments and keep our expectations small.
If we are short-term investors, our way of functioning is worthy of respect. We may find ourselves irritated with others as they can judge us as opportunists and avoid dealing with us. The truth is we are opportunists. Let’s be up front with that understanding of ourselves and our intentions. It helps to reduce any resentment that may ensue from what may be perceived as a premature maturation of the relationship. This may look like saying, “I’m telling you up front, you probably won’t hear from me after we are done with this transaction.” Another idea is to create a concise written agreement detailing what we are and are not committing to doing.
For long-term investors, let’s keep in mind that short-term investors see the pay-off at a different point than we do. If we are willing to be respectful and watch our expectations, we won’t be disappointed and angry. In fact, those short-term investor traits are often celebrated and promoted, as they can be associated with a person who is “alpha” motivated or driven.
For short-term investors, let’s keep in mind that we may be resented if people feel thrown away. If you are willing to deal with the subsequent vitriol, then there are no problems. If not, work to address the long-term investors’ concerns.
Instead of being irritated with the differences we have within our relationship and labeling our partner negatively in order to make ourselves right, let’s simply accept our partner as having a different investment strategy than we do. This will go a long way toward understanding each other and creating a safe environment.
Taking things one step further, one way we can demonstrate a respect and appreciation for our partners in the face of having different investment strategies is to avoid speaking negatively about them. More to come on that next week. In the meantime be loving and …
Frank Love coaches individuals who are in (or wish to be in) a relationship on ways to be more loving. He is also the author of “Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway)” and “25 Way to Be Loving.” To schedule a free consultation, contact Frank at Frank@FrankLove.com.