What Smart People Know About Broken Relationships
Glass, plastic, the idea that you can't smash an already broken relationship…
Most people in broken relationships are screwed.
We think we know something about our relationship that isn't always true. We foolishly believe we're smarter than what we hear, see and think our loved one is telling us.
We have the broken relationship dripping through our hands, falling to pieces at our feet, and we don't even know it's happening.
I'm not here to blame you for your broken relationship. Trust me, it's never one person's fault.
But what is your fault is taking this situation for granted without ever really looking, evaluating, and figuring out how to handle your broken relationship.
I'm the first to admit I'm guilty of taking relationships for granted. I can't go back and save my ex-best friend from dumping my ass. I also can't go back and make people care about me the way I wanted them to.
It's not smart to live in regret. It's also not smart to keep making the same mistakes again. Because you will endure another broken relationship. It's simply a matter of time.
Learn what smart people know about relationships before it's too late.
They know relationships are made of very thin glass
Imagine a vase.
A very precious glass vase, hand-painted by your great grandmother during the war. It's so fragile that a slight breeze might knock it over and smash it into a million pieces.
This glass vase is a representation of some of the relationships you have. It's precious to you, sentimental in how it came to be, and can break at any given moment. Such relationships might be:
- Marriages filled with arguments and infidelity
- Family members who haven't spoken a civil word to each other in years
- Co-workers who constantly argue
- Friends who always see the opposite sides of the same argument, forcing mutual friends to constantly pick sides
It doesn't take much for these relationships to break. They're already so fragile, barely holding together, one argument could be the final nail.
They know what constitutes the relationship hammer
Not every relationship is made with such thin glass. Some are made with that incredibly durable glass, designed for commercial restaurant use. You can drop it and it almost bounces on the floor in a comical fashion.
But those glasses, despite being thicker and tougher, can still break. Once broken, it's nearly impossible to put the pieces back exactly how they were.
Any hammer will smash it to pieces.
Relationship hammers are usually explosive, life-changing events that challenge the integrity of solid relationships. The relationship hammers might be:
- Cheating on your partner
- Having an affair with your best friend's partner
- Dobbing on your co-worker that you have a thriving relationship with
- Committing a crime that leaves your family divided and unable to support you
- Discovering family secrets
Smart people understand if something like this happens to even the strongest of relationships, there are no guarantees it will survive. They don't expect their relationship to stay the same as a result.
There is no delusional about action and consequence in this scenario.
Relationships can be made of plastic
Plastic relationships aren't as they sound. They aren't superficial or fake, as the plastic implies. The construction of these relationships is unique.
If we take the vase example, now imagine it's made of plastic. You can comfortably drop it and know it won't break. You can leave it around a growing family, knowing it will survive the havoc of hustle and bustle. The vase survives an earthquake.
Plastic relationships can survive anything.
They are indestructible in the best sense of the word. Everyone has a relationship made of plastic. These could be:
- Friends you made in high school - You can go years without seeing each other and it's like a minute hasn't passed
- Relationships with siblings - You fight, yell, argue, but then hug it out two seconds later.
- Relationships with children - Like friends, you could be thousands of miles apart and know your relationship is as strong as ever.
Smart people don't take plastic relationships for granted
Plastic relationships are wonderful. They are everything you want in a relationship. They are:
- Likely to survive a lifetime
- Make you feel safe and reassured
- Allows you to be yourself knowing this relationship will survive
But despite all these things, smart don't become complacent about their plastic relationships. They don't put them second or rank them against each other.
If you put the plastic vase and glass vase in a smashing contest, we know who is going to lose. But when it comes to relationships, this is where the comparisons end.
It's not so clear-cut. It's never break or survive.
Glass relationships can be wonderful because of their fragility. It means you treasure them more. A plastic relationship can be wonderful because you always know they will be there, no matter what happens.
Yet glass relationships can break without even doing anything malicious. It seems to break on its own. And plastic relationships can become dented over time, misshapen into something you barely recognise.
Glass relationships aren't better than plastic relationships.
Plastic relationships aren't better than glass relationships.
Smart people know you need a relationship cap
When you start managing glass and plastic relationships, you discover how different they are. You can't treat them the same way, nor can you make assumptions about either of them.
Everyone is juggling glass and plastic relationships at the same time.
You're always trying to make sure they all survive, which takes effort. You're watching one as you're taking care of the other. Like the ultimate clown in the circus, throwing each relationship into the air, you can't stop juggling.
Smart people understand their capacity. There is only so much room in their juggling act for a certain number of relationships.
This is why they put a cap on the number of relationships they have:
- You only have so much time in a day/week/month/year - You physically can't fit in everything you need to do to keep relationships alive. And do everything else in your life, too.
- You can't be in two places at the one time - The more relationships you have, the higher the expectations are on you. Everyone wants a piece of you, and they don't forgive you for having other relationships they have to compete with.
- Every relationship needs equal attention - Glass, plastic, relationships are all the same in the amount of effort you need to give them. You only have so much emotional energy to give to each relationship before you reach a capacity.
- Dropping a relationship has consequences - If you put too many into the mix, you're setting yourself up for failure. Over-juggling.
Smart people know what happens when you over-juggle
If you try to outsmart your relationship cap, soon the fatigue will set in and every relationship will come crashing to the floor.
The glass smashes alongside the dented plastic. And, as you're trying to recover all your relationships, some roll away out of your grasp.
You've sabotaged yourself. You took onto too many relationships. You spread yourself too thin.
As much as it sucks and you can feel like you're the victim in this, it was always inevitable. If you believe you're invincible, a fictional relationship superhero, disaster was not only possible, it was unavoidable.
Smart people know it's ok to walk away from broken relationships and avoid fixing them
Some people like to test you. They deliberately turn their plastic relationship into glass. They deliberately add weight to the glass, making it harder to throw it up into the air and catch it again.
Smart people know it's ok to walk away from these relationships.
People who test your care and commitment aren't people you want in your life. People who make you work harder than your capacity, who constantly make you prove yourself, suck the energy, compassion and love from you.
These broken relationships aren't worth the effort to fix them. Because smart people realise the relationship was already smashed before it hit the floor.
It doesn't make you a bad person to not attempt to fix the relationship. It might be the best thing for you.
Smart people know broken relationships aren't failures
It's easy to believe that a relationship that remains intact is a success. But how successful is a relationship that is still together but makes everyone else miserable?
Or one that prevents each person from having other relationships, or healthy relationships?
A relationship ending doesn't mean it's a failure.
Relationships broken beyond repair, or that need mending, don't mean everyone involved has done something wrong.
We are humans. We don't always get along. We don't always hold together like glass, plastic or a hybrid of both. It's never so cut and dry.
Smart people know relationships come and go, change in priority, break and mend.
And exercising a failure and success belief system about relationships means there are winners and losers. They know this turns every interaction into a competition. And they aren't interested in playing.
They have actual competitions to compete in.
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