Have you ever put so much hope and expectation around a budding relationship- be it a platonic, or romantic relationship? So much, that you started to build castles in the air, then suddenly it came down crashing so fast? Yeah! Me too. You have to dust yourself off and get back up a couple of times before the lesson settles in; valuable, strong, and lasting relationships are nurtured and built over time. I was telling myself this morning, “ I want ‘real-lationships’, because I don’t care how relatable the person seems at first, it takes real intentional work to build and sustain connections. All that new relationship euphoria will have you come down from the high to a rude awakening when things begin to flatline, in other words, when things hit a normal, widely termed as ‘get boring’. It is at this point you begin to see things for what they are, that the other person is as ordinarily human as you are, facing similar highs and lows as you do in your day-to-day life. 

My sister recently spoke to me about the importance of setting sustainable expectations at the beginning of any relationship. During this conversation, it hit me that this is where so many of us go wrong. We’re on a constant high while experiencing the excitement of getting to know new people, and we make the mistake of setting expectations that we cannot sustain in the long run. In most cases, you’ll give too much because you’re trying to impress, and surpass the expectations you imagine people have of you; whether in a new friendship, romantic relationship, or at a new job. Building a connection is much like reading a book, or watching a movie where the story unfolds slowly, and it requires loads of patience to sit and keep reading or watching, but with the rising action, comes more depth and understanding of the story.

What does it take to build a valuable connection? Well, you might not be able to answer that until you are clear with yourself on what really matters to you. Before you embark on this journey, you must learn how to identify and acknowledge your needs, because it will give you clarity and a solid foundation when building connections. Different kinds of connections establish different relationships, and the different relationships serve different purposes; either way, one must identify whether a connection is valuable enough to build on. Think about the value of your energy, and where it’s worth spending, because where you invest it, your focus shifts there, and different outcomes are born. 

Most importantly, accept and absorb the fact the different relationships in your life will always serve different purposes. Knowing this, you can now start to map out what roles the different people in your life play, it doesn’t matter how small of a role it might be, the impact it causes is the value. This then puts you in a better position to ask, “Based on the value or lack thereof that this person brings into my life, do I want to build on this connection, or let it crumble?” This is how you know what relationships to nurture.  

It’s not a valuable connection if it’s not mutually reinforcing, the relationship needs to be symbiotic. Think of a siphoning situation where a large tank of water keeps getting drained to fill up a jerry can. After a while, the big tank will obviously run out; but if the same small jerry can is used to fetch water from a source to refill the big tank, it may take long, yes, but it still sustains the system. One can have more to give, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be drained of it. This applies to us. The value you add to someone’s life does not need to equate or weigh on the same scale as the value they bring into yours. We are all blessed differently, and it’s a good thing to accept this. Nonetheless, ensure that you add some value back!