I remember some advice about buying a house. When choosing, better to buy the worst house in the best neighborhood, than the best house in a worse neighborhood. At first blush that seems pretty self-evident, but it is also applicable for many other fields and equally valid. Today, I would like to examine that concept with regard to relationships.
Let me start by saying, I think it is important to reach out to people regardless of their circumstances, beliefs, etc., but I think there are some real items to consider when looking at who you choose to be in close relationship with. I’ve often heard it said you become like the five people you hang around with the most. I’m not referring to the five people that you know and see someshat frequently. I am talking about the five people you are closest to. The people you can call when everything is falling apart and you know they will be there for you. It makes sense, because whoever those five are, they have elements that make you feel safe enough to be yourself, so you start to adopt some of each other’s traits, good and bad. You may not always agree on things, but you like each other, you respect each other and you are there for each other regardless of the circumstances.
The Russians have several words that define specific relationship levels between people. We have them too, but have generally separated people into either friends, meaning I know them and they are okay, enemies, meaning, I know them and I don’t like them, or others, meaning people I don’t know. Thanks to Facebook and others, everyone that happens to run into us becomes a friend and once we disagree with them we can take the socially active agressive action of “unfriending” them…sort of the inverse of the whole concept. Anyway, that’s a topic for a different day. The Russian language is pretty clear on the difference between a “friend” and other levels of relationship, though.
A friend (or droog (yes, like in A Clockwork Orange)) is someone like I described above. You are there for each other, you beleive the best, stand by them in their worst, and it is a two-way street. Your friend has a meaningful impact on your life and you on theirs. It is for this reason that you need to seek out those “best neighborhood”-type of individuals in your circle to be true friends with. They should be people you love and respect, but also that love and respect you. They should challenge you and influence you, but they also should accept you for who and what you are. They should be the people who can come to you, confront you when you are wrong and stand by you and support you as you work through the issues…and vice versa.
Now, I am not saying don’t befriend and don’t ostracize the “worse neighborhood” individuals. You can certainly make a difference for them and they also teach you and grow you. However, for those you rely on for advice, inspiration, diversion, and growth, for those you look to to point out and then help you overcome the harmful things habits and activities that bubble up in your life, for those you are looking to share your life with, take the time and make the effort to find those in the “best neighborhood”. More importantly, be a “best neighborhood” person for them.
Completely random thought of the day – if Sweden and Denmark face off in Soccer, the scoring box on TV reads SWE-DEN, which means the letters not used are den-mark…