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are you showing enough interest in your relationships?

May 20, 2014

Do you have a relationship that is less than you want it to be and you would like it to be more? Was it once what you wanted? Can you put your finger on what has changed?

There is one thing that underpins every relationship in our life.

Just one thing that we need. One thing that is one directional but that must occur on two levels because without that one thing there are no relationships. It is something you have to do.

For everyone but the narcissist one level is not enough. In every relationship there must be two. Pushing or pulling it in the other direction will only hinder not help.

You and I don’t have a relationship. For now anyway.  You give me the one thing but, for now, on just one level.

(Don’t worry, I am ok with that. I want you to know that I will continue to leave the door open in the hope that one day we will because one day you will. I want to be in a relationship. We both do.)

There is a script* that forms the basis for every relationship. It is simple.  Just two steps between strangers and friends. You will forgive me if I put them to you from my perspective of our relationship. I will stand to one side while you extend them into your own life, your own relationships.

(Have you ever thought about that phrase – the relationships that you own? You may be in relationship with someone, you may well share a relationship – but you hold the power and so every relationship you are in is one that you own.)

That is never as clear as when you consider our not-quite relationship. The one that you own. But why do you own it? What is it that gives you the power over me?

Step 1.   I need you to be interested in me.

We have this much you and I. You are reading my words. Demonstrating your interest in me through the investment of a piece of your time, of your life, into reading my words. You are, to that extent, interested in me (or perhaps only in my mind) but as we stand together on that first step I am happy.

But not so fast. Relationships are never easy and the next step may need you to think a little. I hope you find it challenging because I would hate to waste your time by making this relationship thing all too easy…

Step 2:   I need you to be interested in me being interested in you.

And that is where our not-quite relationship ends. Every day my contact me page sits idly twiddling its virtual thumbs waiting for you to reach out, to show that you are interested in me being interested in you and your work. Until then we have no relationship and I am left standing on the first step. When you do, we can take that next step. We could have a relationship.

You will see in these two simple steps the basis of everything from the deepest relationships to unrequited love. In the latter, she shows interest in him (perhaps for something he can offer) but she has no interest in him being interested in her (perhaps because she has a partner or has no desire for one). He has been put firmly in the “friend zone” and will languish there. They have the one thing but it is only on one level, and (as I am sure you already know from bitter or perhaps bitter-sweet experience) him pushing or pulling it in the other direction will only hinder not help.

You must climb these two steps for a relationship to start and you must stand on the top step together for it to continue. If just one takes a single step down the relationship is all but over. Even a step sideways can signal the end because if you are more interested in another than you are in me (or if you are more interested in another being interested in you than me (stay with me, I said it would require you to think!)) then we are not that interesting anymore.

You know that feeling. That some thing has been lost. We all do. At one time we all have lost the one thing.

A new job. A new hobby. A sporting interest rekindled. A new friend. It may be a new relationship with paint or with clay or with fabric or with wood or with steel. The interest goes elsewhere and we feel its absence. It may even be a fascination with the other that was conceived out of the depth of your mutual interest. Many a father has suspected over the months that it would come and then comes to know he has slipped from the top step to the bottom step in that wonderful moment when a new life takes its first breath and his old life takes its last. And he wouldn’t change it for the world because he now has a reason to change the world but…

It. Has. Changed. Every thing.

You own your relationships. I own mine. We are in them together.  You must be interested in me and you must be interested in me being interested in you. I must be interested in you and I must be interested in you being interested in me.

Without that we don’t have a thing, we are no thing at all.

So, if you have a relationship that is less than you want it to be and you would like it to be more …  ask yourself :

Am I showing enough interest?

Am I doing enough to show that I am interested in them? Am I doing enough to show that I am interested in them being interested in me?

If you are sure, really sure, that your answers to both questions are yes and you are sure, absolutely sure, there is nothing more you could do … give them this post to read and tell them you are interested. Interested in hearing how they think you are doing.

Now that would be something.


* If you want to know more see  Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self  by Donald L. Nathanson; or the original source by Silvan Tomkins Affect Imagery Consciousness  ( )

If you would like me to take our relationship to the next level and would like me to come and share with you and your team the insights that come from the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

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After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! Show them you are interested in them. I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2014 8:58 am

    I am interested in what needs to happen when an individual showing interest in another shows no reciprocal interest back (the one sided relationship). For example, people who only talk about themselves at a party (or family members that chew your ear off)…

  2. May 20, 2014 4:23 pm

    So are you the person who chews or are you being chewed? Because I know I am both of them at one time or another. It makes it very hard for there to be a relationship with that person because their continuous talking doesn’t allow any space for them to demonstrate they are interested in you. They might say that the constant stream of advice they are offering you on your job or your partner or your kids or your dog is because they are interested in you but my sense is they are a) trying to convince you how really clever and wonderful they are; and/or b) they are scared that if they stop talking you might leave (a pretty clear indication that you are not interested in them). Nobody likes being rejected!

    Depending on how much energy you want to invest in the relationship you could try gently pointing out when they interrupt you when you are talking, or try just not saying anything at all (even the little mmmm’s and ok’s), look thoughtful and you never know, they might just ask if you are ok or what you are thinking about.

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