When you think about sustainability, what comes to mind—global warming, going green, doing your part to lessen your carbon footprint? How about relationships? We should compost old relationships and only get involved with organic people? Not exactly, no. Although the concept is intriguing, this would be implausible for most of us, given our cultural proclivity towards big “relationship footprints.”
If you have had a few relationships you know what I mean by “sustainability”—especially if they have been a source of pain or suffering to some degree. But what of the ones you wish to keep, nurture, and grow rather than watch die prematurely or unexpectedly? Instead of all that energy most of us spend putting ourselves “out there” on the emotional limb—oftentimes left with nothing more than a “seed”, or perhaps less some seeds, as the case may be—let’s wise up and turn those seeds into wisdom. Let’s get on with how to make our lives fertile so that we can more optimally attract and create healthier, more fulfilling, and sustainable relationships, ones that have the greatest potential for an amazing harvest, season after season to come.
Relationships can be complicated given the myriad of unique nuances that make up any one individual and the layers of experiences that create the filters we each see reality through. The real enigma seems to be a matter of skill and planning—how to create an optimal climate for potential growth within this human complexity. Just like plants, relationships grow and flourish under optimal circumstances and care. So, here are some pointers for how to sustain any great relationship （platonic or otherwise), once you have carefully selected who you want to be in it with:
1. Consciousness agreements:One of my all-time favorites. Let people know what’s important to you up front. As soon as possible, in fact. In any relationship the time to negotiate is up front, not after you are in deep! Two of my “needs” (if you can call them that) in a friendship are that we don’t make unilateral decisions about ending the friendship, and if we have a problem we bring it to the other person as soon as possible. What are your non-negotiables?
1. 观念协议:这一直是我的最爱之一。让人们预先知道对你来说什么才是重要的。实际上,越快越好。在任何一段交往关系中,得把原则性问题说在前,而不是等问题出现之后再来讨价还价!我在一段友情之中的两大“需求”(如果你能这么称呼的话)就是:1) 我们在终结友情这一问题上绝不单方面做出决定;2) 如果出现了问题,我们要尽快向另一方提出商议。你们的原则性问题又是什么呢?
2. Respect:If you don’t, you have no chance at REAL, lasting intimacy (in my not-so-humble opinion). If you respect yourself, just double it. Don’t just talk about it either—this is an action item. Respect is not a feeling; it’s a way of behaving!
3. Expectations:The fastest way to get back to love in any relationship is to want nothing.Period. Try it. No one is responsible for your happiness or anything else, unless expressly agreed to.
4. Integrity:Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, as often as humanly possible. And don’t BS yourself. Nobody trusts a flake, nor does anyone want their vulnerable hearts to be in the care of one. If you love and respect someone, ACT like it!
5. Compatibility:If you are mad about the outdoors, can’t live without reality TV, are a screaming liberal, or abhor people who over-accessorize or don’t keep up on current events, then you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with…me, for example. Just because someone has good energy doesn’t mean you can do well together in real life. Watch what people DO, not only what they say. Make sure they match or you’ll be sadly disappointed, eventually bored, and even resentful. There are 7 billion people on the planet—check some more of them out and quit trying to make a person someone they are not!
6. Compassion:Walked a mile in their shoes, have you? I recommend, before you think you know whatever you think you know about the person you say you love, one of the most loving acts of all: understand as much as you want to be understood. Old adage for a reason. “’Cause it’s a damn good one!”
7. Responsible communication:You get to choose from every word in the English language (or whatever language you share) in whatever tone you choose to communicate your thoughts and feelings to another, so choose carefully. You have no one to blame if you don’t tell the truth or say what you want. My teacher says, “We are always doing one of two things; creating separation or connection.” What is your intention?