I had a reminder last week of quitting while you’re ahead. Sometimes it is hard to know when to when to let a relationship go. A red flag for me is respect. When one of you starts spiralling into losing respect for the other, it can signal it is time to get out.
The relationship for me was my volunteering at a community group. I’m not a political person and don’t like doing things by committee, but I felt like I wanted to get involved so I joined up.
We ran a fundraising movie night last week that many similar and smaller groups have had success with. We seemed to have the support of a good proportion of our members but in the end our ticket sales were terrible. A quarter of our tickets sold, meaning we didn’t even break even. The friend I took along, her group had 1/6 of the members but they had sold out the theatre easily (I had heard many similar stories), which made me feel despondent. What was so different about our group?
It wasn’t the first time we’d had problems about people getting involved and I am afraid I couldn’t help myself but I posted my feelings on our Facebook group. I know, not the best way to deal with things! I wanted to shake them up a bit, remind them that everyone needs to do their bit to keep the group going so our children had somewhere to come and play, and in this easy fundraiser they had not pulled together. It was not a tactful message, but something I would have said in the same way to people’s faces.
I got angry but well thought out responses, which I expected, and a few supportive answers. But, as can happen in Internet-world, things spiraled into personal attacks. I only answered once in a general way as I could see that things were rapidly going downhill, and I became aware of what a public forum Facebook was and didn’t want to increase the vitriol.
My relationship with these people was for me to do extra work in my free time so our children could have a great place to play. And I got some feel-good bonuses for making a difference and the wonderful friends I made along the way. It is very hard to keep your end of the bargain, when others have belittled you. Arguing the issue was what I had wanted, but once it slipped into the personal, it was like a light switched off in my mind. Perhaps others saw my bluntness as a lack of respect, but I hadn’t been personal, I had focused my criticism on the actions (or lack of) of the group in general.
I asked myself:
- Could I continue my relationship as it stood?
- Could I continue the relationship even if I stepped down?
Once respect has been lost from one side, it’s a hard to piece a relationship back together. I know in the past I have struggled believing this, and have soldiered on, sure I could fix things. I lived with my now ex-husband who regularly belittled me, and I stuck in there, being so sure there was something I could do to fix it all. Now I don’t want to fix things. I want respect in my life, including in times of disagreement.
I was sad to step down from the committee, but I found I really did not want to spend my free time working on projects for people who had flamed me. I haven’t decided about staying in the group in general, but I do know I will keep many of the wonderful friendships I have made through the group.
Respect is a funny thing, it’s hard to grasp back once it’s gone. I am still puzzling over this and you might have some better ideas, I’d love to hear them!
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