Category Archives: Relationships

Don’t Overreact

Don’t overreact.  Adapting is important, but there is such a thing as adapting TOO much, and doing so will negatively affect your own life and your relationships with others. Instead, you should adapt the appropriate amount for the given circumstances.

I used to pride myself on how many things I could change in response to feedback.  From what time I sleep to the number of grams of chicken I ate in a 72 hour period to what thoughts to think when transitioning from one task to another, I controlled every detail.  But recently I’ve noticed that small external changes were triggering huge internal changes to my life. I was overreacting. Someone would say I’m drinking to much water and I’d go from a cup per hour to a cup of water per 3 hours and get overly dehydrated.  The change was too much too soon.  Instead I should scale down in percentages: half a cup every 1.5 hours instead of jumping to 3 so soon.

Also: Don’t change your behavior on TOO many occasions. I was taking advice too often: On Monday I’d read something about the dangers of overhydration and start adjusting to a cup every 3 hours, and then on Tuesday I’d read that dehydration has risks and I’d start adjusting back to one cup every hour.  The body needs time to react, generally 3 weeks to build a new consistent lifestyle habit, so all of this constant changing was just keeping my body in a constant state of defense towards foreign and abnormal behaviors which is worse for my health overall.

Not only is this bad for me personally, but it reflects poorly on me to others because I wasn’t being consistent. Inconsistency makes people think you’re unreliable and undependable, both qualities that will lose you relationships.  If on Monday I convince everyone to drink less water and on Tuesday I change my stance, eventually by Wednesday they’ll learn to just not listen to my advice.  And I don’t want that. So I need to have patience and take my time both in making the choice to make a change and in the execution of that change.

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When You Don’t Get Back What You Put In

Something I’ve learned over the years is that there are some people who take and don’t give back, or they give back significantly less than what they get.  There are people who stay even with you: they give back what you give them.  Then there are people who just give whenever they can, without keeping track of what you’ve given them.

Therefore, the sooner you recognize what category of person you are dealing with, the sooner you can adjust your own strategy accordingly.

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Relationship Skills: Overview

There are, at a generalized high level, 3 forms of relationships.

1. Parasitic: One person benefits while the other person loses.  A robber steals money from a victim. The robber gains money and the victim loses money.

2. Co-Existing: Either person is unaffected by the other person and they co-exist. Two people are eating at a restaurant at separate tables.

3. Mutualistic: Both people benefit from being in the relationship with each other.  Two friends doing an activity they would individually enjoy, together.  They derive pleasure both from the activity and from the shared experience.  Two people playing tennis: a sport that cannot be played alone with as much fun. Two people working together to move a table from one place to another so that it can be used by the two later.


For each form of relationship, there is a direct mapping form and an indirect mapping form of relationship.  A direct mapping means that the exchange in question exists within the same category as seen from both sides of the exchange, such as in the above example where a robber steals money from a victim.

Let’s take a look at an example of an indirect mapping, parasitic relationship. If I don’t value my wallet, but I value my safety, then when a robber steals my wallet by force, I am more affected by the loss of safety than the loss of my wallet.  From my point of view, I lost my safety, and the wallet was a side effect.  From the robber’s point of view, the primary gain was the wallet, safety was a means to the end. Thus, the exchange in question is not within the same category as seen from both sides of the exchange.

A direct mapping, co-existing relationship would be the restaurant example above, two people eating at separate tables. An indirect mapping, co-existing relationship would be two people working within the industry of Bio Engineering but physically in two separate cities.

A direct mapping, mutualistic relationship would be the examples above, two tennis players playing tennis together. An indirect mapping, mutualistic relationship would be two tennis players of drastically different skill levels playing together. The weaker player benefiting from the direct exposure to tennis skill and learning about tennis, and the stronger player benefiting through the gain in self confidence or self purpose through educating and training the weaker player. Again, the exchange is across two categories, learning from one perspective and teaching through another.


These 3 forms of relationships also serve as benchmarks for maturity.  Everyone starts out in this world in a mutualistic, indirect relationship with their caretaker.  As the caretaker imparts wisdom and the child grows up, and can begin developing co-existing relationships.  They have classmates, clubmates, co-workers, etc.  That child eventually gains the skills necessary to engage in direct mutualistic relationships.  Being an employee and getting paid for labor, or taking responsibilities from others and providing those services.


Weaving through all six forms of relationships is another kind of relationship.  The personal relationship.  This is the record or ledger for all interactions between you and the entity in question through all time.  Nurturing that into existence, keeping it alive, and making it flourish is one of the hardest things to do, and one of the most rewarding.  I’ll get to that in another post.