Rules of the Road
I’ve sorted through the tenets of my personal philosophy lately, and I’ve now established some ground rules for interpersonal relationships. In the past, I’ve just let things go how they go, with a laissez-faire attitude about forgiving & forgetting. Generally speaking, I don’t hold grudges and tend to shrug off slights directed at me because I don’t think they’re too important in the scheme of things. I tend to give people an infinite number of chances, and I finally understand that this leaves me vulnerable.
These rules help protect my heart and mind from unnecessary anguish. I’m 100% uninterested in feeling upset over people who simply aren’t worth being upset over. I don’t really like saying they “aren’t worth it”, but it’s a fact – there’s no point investing care in people who aren’t capable of reciprocating that care.
The rules also include red flags that help me to recognize unhealthy relationships before I waste time in them. This has traditionally been an issue – I don’t actually recognize I’m in a bad situation until I start feeling anxiety or insecurity when I think about the person. It’s only then that I recognize the relationship is bad for me as a person, and it’s only after I’ve felt continuous upset for several days that I realize I need to stand up for myself one way or another.
So, here are my rules of the road:
- Do not be meek about addressing interactions that bother me. I have every right to express my personal discomfort.
- Do not try to think the best of people unless they’ve proven there’s a reason to do so.
- Do not date men who live with their parents, don’t have a job, and/or don’t have a car. While I don’t actually care about these materialistic things in a potential mate, it is a definite sign of immaturity. I don’t want to spend my life with someone who has no interest in improving his circumstances.
- Don’t waste time on emotionally immature men.
- Don’t waste time on people who won’t initiate conversations.
- Don’t waste time hoping people who’ve disappeared will come back. Two days of silence is the limit. After that, they’re moved from ‘friend’ to ‘acquaintance’ in my heart. After one week, they become ‘random human I used to know’ in my heart.
- Do not waste time trying to re-connect with people who didn’t have the courtesy or courage to say goodbye.
- Beware of people who focus and fixate on one mistake I make and willfully ignore the good content of every other interaction we had up to that point. I have no interest in spending time with people who are this judgmental.
- Do not waste time with people who don’t know how to reciprocate care.
- Do not waste time with people who try to force me to accept an identity they’ve chosen for me.
- Do not waste time with people who continuously point out my flaws without any kind of constructive follow-up.
- Do not trust people until they’ve given a reason to be trusted. Even then, be extremely cautious about taking that trust for granted.
- Do not waste time on people who chide or exile me for expressing my emotions or thoughts.
- Do not slip into patterns of pretending to be happy.
- Do not waste time on people who ignore me when I express concerns.
- Do not waste time on people who see that I’m hurt but aren’t capable of reaching out to show concern.
- Do not waste time on people who cannot answer a question honestly.
- Do not waste time on people who are afraid of living.
- Do not waste time imagining futures that include anyone but myself.
- Always follow my intuition. If I feel uneasy, I need to listen to the feeling and assess why the feeling exists. If I feel happy, I should not second guess myself. If I feel neutral, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship.
This list is subject to change, of course. I’m always growing and evolving. I definitely want learn to discern relationship potential without a reference list someday. Even so, I feel good that I’ve finally whittled all of these abstract ideas and intuitive feelings down into a manageable list. I’m going to print this out and keep it in my journal to reference when I feel confused about a relationship.