I’ve always said that it’s the little things we do or don’t do in this world that end up making the biggest difference, especially when it comes to the health and longevity of relationships, both intimate and platonic.
For every single relationship, or friendship, I’ve ever been in that’s ended, it’s consistently come down to those little things that were regularly overlooked as the cause. In the past few years, this is precisely what’s been one of my biggest frustrations with my partner.
A good example of what I’m talking about here happened just this past Christmas Day. At the end of that holiday night, I had a stack of holiday cards that had been given to me and were now lying on our kitchen counter, waiting to be hung with the rest already adorning our walls in the living room. Typically, this was a duty my partner does quite diligently as soon as any new card comes in the mail or was given to us, so I asked if he’d hang mine before going to bed that night. His first response was that the holiday season was just about over and that soon everything would be taken down anyway, so why bother. I told him it was important to me and he said ok he’d do it. But it actually wasn’t until two and a half days later and several repeated requests from me, that he eventually got around to doing it.
All in all, hanging those few Christmas cards really wasn’t what mattered to me. What mattered to me more was feeling like I mattered to him. So, when the little things I ask for get forgotten about, neglected, or only done after repeated requests, it tends to make me feel like I don’t matter.
Growing up, this was the very same pattern I dealt with day in and day out. The things I cared about, the things I wanted my parents to listen to, the things that were most dear to my heart, were often forgotten about, neglected, or only done through much pleading and begging. That’s because my parents were caught up in themselves much of the time with their arguing, their addictions, and their selfishness. After I left home and went out on my own as a young adult, I continued falling into the very same pattern with me getting into one relationship after another, and many friendships as well, where the little things that mattered to me the most, never really mattered much to any of those I loved.
Thankfully, through therapy, the ManKind Project, and my 12 Step recovery, I learned that all of those people were simply a mirror for me. I too had often neglected those little things when it came to others and was more selfish than not throughout much of my earlier adulthood. Once I discovered this, I began to work on changing it, which included forgiving my parents for how they were and accepting they did the best they could. I then started making a far greater effort to do those little things for others to show they mattered to me, like I regularly try to do with my partner nowadays, by leaving him special little notes in secret places for him to find, or making it a point to come right away whenever he’s calling me for help, or by doing a chore he asks of me right away, rather than putting it off till I feel like doing it.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I ultimately believe it’s those little things that tend to make the biggest difference in all of our relationships with others. Why? Because deep down, I think every one of us wants to feel like we matter in this world, and sometimes it’s those little things that really show we do.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson