Did you ever notice that you’re the one who does all the calling, makes all the social arrangements, buys all the gifts, and cooks all the holiday dinners?
I don’t believe in keeping score because usually the scales balance out in the end. But, there are many times the scales don’t balance out and you’re the one who is making all the effort. It may take a long time, many years, in fact, to notice that the other person is making a minimum of effort if, at all, and once you realize that if you weren’t the one who was initiating everything, the relationship would cease to exist.
When it comes to relationships like that, I hold onto them much too long, way beyond their sell-by date until it reaches the point that it’s not only stupid but it’s a major source of irritation and I have to take action.
The first time I became aware of my silly behavior was forty years ago. My friend and I had always met for breakfast a few days before Christmas to catch up on things and exchange Christmas gifts. That year, finances were especially tight and I found myself doing all the calling, making all the effort and it really started to annoy me.
Money was very scarce that year and as I thought about buying her a gift with money I didn’t have, I made an executive decision. I went to a department store that had a good return policy and bought my friend a gift and then I wrapped it up and put it in the closet, determined that if she called me and asked to get together for our pre-Christmas breakfast and exchange of gifts, I would give her the gift I bought her but, if she didn’t call me, I would unwrap her present and return it to the store and get my money back.
She not only didn’t call me but it took fourteen years before I heard from her again, and that was only when she wanted something. The only justification I have for holding onto relationships so long is that I put a lot into every relationship and I hate to think that I had wasted it all on someone who didn’t deserve it.
It still takes me forever to end a relationship that doesn’t deserve to endure but at least it’s not taking me quite as long to do something about it.
My Christmas list is going to be much shorter this year because I don’t want to be the one who is making all the effort. And I say to myself,
“See? I’m learning. It didn’t take me quite as long this time to learn my lesson.”
Yet, old habits die hard.