PERSONAL SPACE: More Than A Friend

Shortly after I moved to Chicago, I met a very cool woman who had recently relocated to the city as well. We clicked immediately and began hanging out regularly. We quickly developed a friendship.  Over time, we were both divorced and swapped many stories about who we were dating. Unfortunately, the world is too small, and when I began a relationship with someone I had known from college, I found out my new friend had gone on one date with him several years earlier. I was immediately concerned. I asked her if she was OK with me seeing this guy because I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt her feelings or our friendship. Although she said she was fine with it, she stopped calling me and made excuses not to hang out anymore.  

Unsure of how to handle the situation, I enlisted the advice of several friends. The consensus was: “Girl, you’ve known him for 20 years. She went on one date with him a few years ago, and they never locked lips …? Please; you have dibs.” Initially, I listened to my other girls and became somewhat annoyed at my new friend for being so touchy. But then I realized she was genuinely hurt by my actions. I would never knowingly hurt a friend, so I decided to make the best possible effort to clear the air and salvage our relationship. I called and invited her to events until she finally thawed and realized my intentions were sincere. It took some doing, but we are now back on track.

I put in the effort to understand her perspective and the work to rebuild our trust because I felt the friendship was worth the effort. Too often, we are quick to throw away quality relationships because of pride, stubbornness or reluctance to make things right.  Truly positive relationships of any sort—friend, family or lover—are extremely valuable.  They are your most important possessions, to be treasured above all else. Be sure, however, that the people in your life are positive and not toxic. Often, we spend more time trying to save dysfunctional relationships in which we give much more than we get. If someone is making you feel bad about yourself or simply doesn’t reciprocate the energy you put in, he or she does not deserve your attention.    

The two lovely sisters of Mary Mary, Erica and Tina Campbell, are perfect examples of women who have put in the effort to save relationships they value. Their own sisterhood has been challenged by their being pulled in different directions professionally and personally. And they’ve both had to devote time to working on preserving their respective marriages in the face of the pressures that being in the public eye can bring.  I respect the bond they clearly have, and the way in which they have labored to protect their families.

When you find yourself in conflict with someone you love, take a minute to think about whether you have benefitted emotionally and spiritually from interactions with this person in the past.  If you have and you truly love him or her, don’t let ego or complacency prevent you from fighting for the relationship. Email me or hit me up on Twitter to tell me how you feel about the relationships in your life.