Relationship Balance: The Key to Doing What You Want – and Keeping Your Friends

Monday, Mar. 21st 2011 3:46 PM

Unless you are new to my blog, you know that I am a firm believer in doing what you feel is best for you, even if the people with whom you have relationships don’t like your decisions. But if you wish to maintain and preserve those relationships, you will have to strike a balance between what you want and what others ask of you.

I was recently invited to support Raleigh, someone who matters to me a great deal, both personally and professionally … twice. And I did not show up either time. Yes, I had my reasons/excuses, but my actions still left her feeling let down. On the first occasion, Raleigh invited me to hear her give a sermon at her church. I believe this was the first time she had ever given such a presentation. She even asked me a month in advance, and I had it in my schedule. However, being a person who hates traffic (and attending would have meant spending more than an hour in rush hour), mixed with everything I had on my plate pertaining to my daily grind and parenting, I did not attend. It would have meant a lot to her if I had.

The second invitation was for my family to visit her home this past weekend. But my extended family scheduled a birthday party for my 93-year-old grandmother the day prior to our visit. So, I cancelled our plans with Raleigh. It would have meant a lot to her if we had made it. And while she did not show any anger, she did ask me why I did not show up either time. It is safe to say that she was disappointed.

I am the first to say that we gain little by feeling guilty when we do not meet other people’s expectations (see “Your Partner’s Feeling Do Not Matter…”). After all, we are simply telling the people with whom we have relationships who we are and what we want. But other people and what they want also matter, because we need one another to thrive, learn and be fulfilled. So, it is important to see that the people we care about (whether they are our partners, friends, family members or colleagues) are fulfilled by their interactions with us.

This isn’t putting other people’s desires before our own; it is fulfilling our own desire to have these people in our lives. Making an effort to support the people who are important to us is a “win-win.” And when our friends and partners believe they are winning when interacting with us, the relationship remains valuable (see Commitment is Overrated) to them.

Still, it is critical to find balance when we are working to create these “win-wins.” This balance exists when we do not give more than we feel comfortable giving or betray our own values, yet give enough that the other party feels supported.

How do you strike this balance? As with most things in life, balance is relative. It is personal and looks different for each of us. To answer this question in absolutes would only create more questions, so I will keep my advice simple. Set the stage so that when the deal is done and your friend or partner expresses whatever he/she will express (e.g., gratitude, irritation, nothing or whatever), you can honestly say, “I made a genuine effort to create a win-win for both of us.”

I hope that Raleigh will to want to remain in a close friendship with me. But in the aforementioned scenarios with her, I did not strike this important balance. Not only was she bothered by my actions, but so was I. After all, having someone I care about feel that I let her down may harm our relationship – a relationship that I treasure. So, it is back to the drawing board for me on this one. Balance, at least as it pertains to supporting Raleigh, is forthcoming. I hope that she continues to be patient with me. And I would understand if she doesn’t.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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…and please do not multi-task when driving.

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

29 Comments on “Relationship Balance: The Key to Doing What You Want – and Keeping Your Friends”

  1. Gordon Says:

    Good job on that one, Frank! It will resonate with many. My take-away is that we’re not always going to get it “right”. However, if choices are made with the best intentions of a positive outcome, we’re batting one thousand!

  2. Chris P! Says:

    If we see the oneness of Life then our physical presence is not always necessary. In our prayers and Libations for those that we are close to, we can afford support that allows the win-win for us all. You can be supportive without “having to” be there, and know that there performance is a success regardless. I get the sentiment and understand the conversation as well.

  3. DeVaun Says:

    in my goin on five years of marriage (wow 5) i have learned that there is no relationship balance. there is a strive for balance yes, but not perfect balance. a balanced relationship means that it is perfect, there are no perfect relationships. two people are two people and won’t always see things the same way. so there’s give and take. the problems come in when we start tryin to tally who’s done what to who. so i guess i agree but not really. ha! there’s the dichotomy of existence again 🙂

  4. Kofi Says:

    Hey bro! The way I see it is that things don’t necessarily have to be “EQUALY” to have balance. 50/50 is for the birds. Each person may have to give more at different times and different circumstances within the relationship. If you find yo…urself always going above and beyond and your partner never does, then that is not balance. But if is reciprocated, then balance exists. Balance in my mind is not synonymous with perfection. The fact that there is an understanding of who each individual is within the relationship and not who you expect them to be, and each party understands and respects that, then that is balance. Because you “KNOW” your partner, you may adjust how you react to things they do, and vice versa. Look at it in the present tense as opposed to the past. While on a balancing board you are working through a task. Relationships will always be work. Should there be an end to your relationship? The work never ends. Its a life long balancing act if you have the right one. Some people will have more difficulty balancing than others. Just my perspective.

  5. DeVaun Says:

    you, my brother, are ready for broom jumping. i learned that OJT

  6. DeVaun Says:

    oh yea, OJT “On the Job Training”

  7. Kofi Says:

    Trust and believe it’s reciprocal.

  8. Boyd Says:

    Good article, Frank. Thanks.

  9. Boyd Says:

    I want to add a related point, Raleigh, and that is, you only get out of a relationship what you put into it. Maybe, hopefully, your relationship with Raleigh is sufficiently secure and long term that it will weather the storm of your two cancellations. However, I would think that maybe you cannot expect as much support from her in the future as you could have if you had attended the two events.

  10. HH Says:

    You suprised me with this one Frank, borderline shicked! But I totally agree with your win-win concept I think if more of us applied this instead of trying to live out people’s expectations of us, then our relationships would be a much safer place to exist.

  11. ordell roby aka silverback Says:

    I just read the dissertation and I am a little confused.
    You are Frank Love. Where exactly is the love in how you handled the Raleigh situation? What does the ‘love’ in your last name exactly mean? Please clarify so that we benefit from your, “experience”.


    Concerned Brother

  12. Deacon Says:

    Frank, A true friend understands when things come up and you can’t support them when you want to. However, they should feel comfortable sharing their disappointment. Thus the conversation is had and everyone realizes that they are not being blown off. However, the excuse not wanting to endure traffic is a sad one. You should have made that Trek for a true friend.

  13. Janis Evans Says:

    I can totally relate to your plate being so full that you will inevitably let down someone very important to you. Yes, you felt bad and yes your friend was disappointed and probably hurt. However, I would focus more on the intent of your heart and not beat yourself up too much. We cannot meet every expectation of those we care about especially if we have competing priorities pulling us in several directions. The reality is that if we are truly committed to family AND friends, somebody’s going to get left out. The fact that we have to make choices regarding obligations and responsibilities is sometimes based on circumstances out of our control, i.e., parenting, 93rd birthdays, etc. Can we find balance in that? Not sure, but I try hard to let people who are important to me know the intent of my heart, the fullness of my plate, and the need to keep MYSELF in balance and not stretched too thin. This way I’ll have something more substantial to give . . .win-win!

  14. The uses of the Internet « Uncharted Love Says:

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  15. Durwood Fincher Says:



  16. Barbara S. Says:

    That’s why I’m staying single. Balance for most men means having his way 90 percent of the time, while she has her way maybe 10 percent of the time. I have a different vision of balance.

  17. Durwood Fincher Says:


  18. Barbara S. Says:

    Durwood, Thank you for your honesty. That kind of balance worked out just fine in the old days when men were the bread-winners and women were the homemakers. Not anymore. Most men in my age group are just looking for a nurse or a purse, anyway. I’m NOT a nurse (freak out at the sight of blood) and I do not have enough in my purse to support myself and a grown man. Like Frank says … balance. We must maintain balance, and that means the man of the house must pay at least half the bills. In the meantime, my idea of balance is to date a plumber to get my plumbing fixed, date an auto mechanic to get my car fixed, date an accountant to get help with my income tax and date a guy at least 10 years younger if I want any loving.

  19. Durwood Fincher Says:



  20. ordell roby aka silverback Says:

    On behalf of the true, “silverbacks” that are alive and well, allow me to retort: Based upon what I have read, we are on the brink of weakening a country!
    The perception of men initiated by the subject of this email string is Not applicable to all men. Trust, there are still some of us that have the qualities of the plumber, mechanic, accountant and the skills of a youngster all rolled into one. And we make no excuses. Upon request, we deliver. We do what we say we are going to do, without exception. Men, listen up. An unsatisfied customer is and always will be unacceptable. Frank, “love?” turn inward and examine yourself. It is our DUTY as ‘Silverbacks’ to ensure that ‘Barbara’ never, ever has to run from man to man.
    Positive over negative….

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