Is Your Relationship Clutter?
My definition of clutter goes beyond “a bunch of material junk that prevents you from properly shutting a drawer”. Simplicana’s take on clutter means anything that doesn’t serve your happiness, health or peace of mind.
By this definition, clutter suddenly can walk, talk and breathe!
We have all experienced a toxic relationship before. Maybe it was with a controlling parent, a negative friend who routinely unloads his or her problems on to you until you feel drained, the boss who belittles you in meetings, or the romantic partner who doesn’t reciprocate any of the energy and time you seem to be putting in.
Now you’ll notice I didn’t call this article “How To Tell If A PERSON Is Clutter”. That’s because I feel that we can improve or degrade based on who we surround ourselves with. No one person is clutter, but the combination itself of two or more people can be.
I will humbly give you an example from my own life: I was in a toxic, on-and-off dating relationship for a year and a half, in and after college. This man was a good person. I could see it, others could see it. He was older and made good money so he constantly treated me to meals, showed interest in my interests, and even flew across the planet to visit me when I lived in Thailand. However, we fought constantly. I can’t even remember what we fought about, but we were both stubborn and strong headed people, and fought way more than we enjoyed each other. I kept holding on because, “he is a good, honest, hard working person and cares about me. There is no reason to end things.” This thought in itself? Clutter. The relationship dragged on far too long, and eventually we broke up on not-so-nice terms. But my ex boyfriend as a person is not clutter. Our relationship was. See the difference? You don’t have to stay with somebody you are unhappy with, just because they are not a jerk. My unhappiness was good enough reason to end it, no matter how much of a “really good guy” he was. If somebody asked me today if he would make a good boyfriend for them, I would reply that he absolutely might be- to do otherwise would be projecting our own toxicity onto their potential happiness, and that would be wrong. (Note: if your ex was ever abusive toward you, then I give you my full blessing to call him or her clutter, and to “project” all you want).
Here are some things to think about if you suspect that a relationship might be clutter:
- What do you value most? If you value honesty and open communication in your relationships, stay around people who are honest and proven communicators. If you like experiencing new things, maintain relationships that hold that value. If you appreciate quality time, maybe the person who is constantly “busy” isn’t the best choice for you.
- How do you feel when you are with them? Energized? Comfortable? Loved and accepted? Or inadequate? Or drained and in need of a nap?
- There are at least two kinds of love: “I love you because of” love, and “I love you in spite of” love. Examples: “I love you because you support my goals.” “I love you in spite of the fact that you didn’t make it to my birthday party.” Relationships will have both kinds of love, but if you find yourself saying “I love you in spite of” more than “I love you because of”… It might be time to reevaluate that relationship.
Not every relationship that is clutter can so easily be de-cluttered. A toxic relationship to a parent or sibling can be something to minimize, but might never get completely tossed. The key here is to set healthy boundaries (a topic for another post).
Life is short. Let’s maximize our happiness in our relationships by surrounding ourselves with those who love us and lift us.