Monday, October 11, 2010


Lately I've been thinking about the elastic quality of relationships of all kinds.  I'm always amazed at their ability to snap back after being stretched.

It's only natural for a relationship of any kind -- friendship, family, professional -- to come under stress from time to time.  When that happens, emotions get stretched and for a moment, the outcome may be uncertain.  Will this be the time the relationship gets stretched to the point of breaking, getting tossed into the rag bag like a pair of underwear that has lost its stretch?  Or will it gradually come around with words of apology, explanation; acts of contrition; or simply time?

I have come to realize it takes a while for me to recover from an upheaval in any relationship.  My snap-back ability may be diminishing with time.  But most often I eventually get there.

How about you?  How good is your elastic when it comes to relationships?


Blogger Gary said...

I am incredibly forgiving when it comes to friendships. This is not a boast, although it could come across as such, it is simply not a challenge for me to put myself in someone else's shoes and try to understand why they did the things they did. The only barrier, the final straw, is deliberate cruelty. And my relationships have no room for that. Luckily my family and friends aren't deliberately cruel. Therefore I can stretch quite far without breaking the relationship.

Romantic relationships have their own brand of elasticity because there are different stakes, different emotions and dreams at play. I have never tossed anyone away or been tossed myself after the healing of a breakup has taken place. During the healing there is a separation.

I am surprised that there is so much I want to write on this topic! Haha, sorry. I should stop now but I think this might be a great subject for Joy and I to discuss on our podcast. Thanks Barbara. xo

12:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- I can see I sparked an interest here! I'm not surprised at your forgiving nature. That's a great quality to have.

I will look forward to and G-J podcast on this if you should choose it as a topic!

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great and timely question, and oh-so-familiar to both of us! :-) For me there are so many variables. In some situations my elastic reached its maximum stretch (e.g., with my ex-spouse, with a passive-aggressive family member, and with one particular friend whose self-centeredness I finally tired of). Some of the most important variables for me are acknowledgment, intention, and sincerity. If an injury or breach has occurred but we're both able to cop to our respective parts in it and affirm a positive intention and connection -- if healing actually happens -- I'm generally pretty forgiving. But if I have an unhealthy attachment to someone, I can be way too stretchy and not keep good boundaries. This one'll be a lifelong learning process for me!



2:05 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

All relationships require a certain amount of give and take or elasticity and in most relationships that give and take is not equal. When that starts to matter to one person or another is when you have problems.

I think Gary hit the nail on the head with his comment about empathy. I also don't generally have very much stress or strife in my friendships and I think it's because I have empathy and respect for others even when they might have a different point of view. As long as they are also respectful of me, that is.

I do tend to shy away from people who are demanding and/or make me feel smothered. I guess I'm still trying to escape my childhood or something. And I suppose that's another reason that I don't tend to get into relationships where the stuff would ever get stretched as far as you describe. I would have backed off well in advance of that happening if at all possible.

I once had an astrology reading and "peace at any price" was mentioned as one of my main personality defects. That's probably right.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Yes, I talked with Joy and we are going to give this topic a go on the 18th. Podcast to follow, I will keep you posted.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- There is a lot to think about in this line: But if I have an unhealthy attachment to someone, I can be way too stretchy and not keep good boundaries.

Cyndy -- If more people practiced peace at any price, the world would be a much better place.

Gary -- Can't wait for the next installment!

9:36 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I guess it depends on the relationship and the strength and length of the elastic in the first place. I'm pretty stretchy (forgiving?) but there are times when things "snap."

6:44 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

Lots of excellent comments about elasticity of relationships.

I confess, I am not a metro-sexual or one of those "new men" who wear their feelings on their sleeves. I am more old school.

People usually know where they stand with me and I am honest with people. I try to be tactful if possible.

You asked if Iowa State is the home of the writer's workshop. No. It is at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Iowa State is often considered the little sister to the U of Iowa -- but in football only. Iowa State is our land grant college and has an excellent vet college, engineering college, terrific science and related colleges, etc.

Iowa is home to the law school and the medical school in Iowa as is an older institution. Both schools have their strengths.

A woman who worked at Iowa State, Jane Smiley, wrote a book called Moo U - which was set at Iowa State (though she said it was not). She was more famous for writing A Thousand Acres. But Moo U is what some people call Iowa State.

Take care.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I think the trick is in keeping healthy stretchiness, yes?

Russell -- Thanks for the clarification of the two Iowa schools. Sounds like both are great institutions in their own right. A lot of famous authors have come out of the "writers' workshop".

4:31 PM  

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