Have you ever had relationship difficulties? I think everyone has. My relationship difficulties seem to be more about business than romance these days. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m finally wise to, and consequently have learned to navigate romantic relationships fairly well so my learning has switched to other kinds of relationships; or if business is just the realm my soul has now chosen to bring me my particular lessons. I suspect it is a little of each.

I had an interesting business-type meeting the other day with several people who could be great collaborators. I’ve known them for a while so I know that there is enough common interest to do something fun, and maybe even powerful, together… but I’m asking myself the question: are common interests enough to make such a relationship work? What about all the other aspects of relationship that are involved? I’ve been thinking a lot about this and thought I’d share my decision making process with you as I develop it in hopes that it will also help you – in business or in romance.

Business or Romance

I’m trying to decide if I should proceed with a business endeavor that will require a lot of relationship savvy on the part of everyone involved. Do we have what it takes? Is it something I want to be involved with? I’ve been having a heck of a time, with all the ins and outs, and ups and downs, and pros and cons, to come up with a satisfactory way to decide… and I haven’t even gotten close to making the dang choice itself. I had this flash of insight the other night that I could choose a business relationship using the same criteria I would use to choose a romantic relationship. Ahhh, at least some clarity. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

1) Is this a conscious relationship?

Relationships are all the same. Or maybe I should say that the dynamics in all relationships are the same, whether that’s romance, family, or work. Either relationships are approached consciously and with care, providing the best chance for a good outcome, or they are stumbled through without awareness leaving them open to every relationship ill known to man. (To me consciousness in relationships always means pro-actively knowing, and taking responsibility for, one’s impact and behavior choices.) Criteria one: Is this a conscious relationship, or does it lack awareness?

2) Just like in dating, I have to know who I am and what I want…

… out of the relationship so I will recognize a good fit when I see it. In my current situation I must know who I am and what I want both personally (how I want it to feel) and professionally (where I want it to go). Criteria two: How do I want the relationship to feel? Where do I ultimately want it to go? I must also ask, Is this relationship capable of providing both of those?

3) What are my relationship requirements, needs and wants?

Requirements are my ‘must haves.’ That is, the things I just can’t compromise on.

Needs are the things that will make the whole experience go a whole lot better but might not be absolutely necessary if enough other good things are present.

Wants are those things that would really be nice to have but I could do without them and still be happy about the relationship.

Questions I am asking myself:

  • Is this relationship lacking any key components that I need in order to fully participate? Trust, honesty, and openness are all very important to me. Are they present?
  • If they are lacking, who in this relationship will bring them? Will it be up to me? Do I want to?
  • Will the others accept what I bring and/or require, or dismiss it as silly or insignificant?

Criteria three: Know the things that I cannot compromise on.

4) I need to know the capabilities and fault lines of the relationship.

That is, what are my biggest dreams and the worst fears for the endeavor, and toward which does this group naturally gravitate?

Questions I am asking myself:

  • Do the others involved in this endeavor have the same hopes?
  • Will we be pulling together to keep the relationship moving toward the high hope?
  • Or will that fall to me while the others remain oblivious to the pitfalls?
  • Will I be happy if it gravitates toward the worst fears?

Criteria Four: Know my biggest hopes and worst fears for this partnership. Test it over time to see which direction it takes.

5) Will this be an equal partnership when it comes to daily task, relating well, and emotional savvy?

Questions I am asking myself:

  • Will I have to carry more of a load than I want in any of those areas?
  • Is my potential return equal to what I will have to invest?
  • When is enough enough for me?

Criteria Five: Know my cutoff point for the time and energy I am willing to invest.

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When I lay it out this way it seems pretty clear.

  1. Is this a conscious relationship, or does it lack awareness?
  2. How do I want the relationship to feel? Where do I ultimately want it to go? And, if this relationship never changes, is it capable of providing both of those?
  3. Know the things that I cannot compromise on. Be willing to walk away if my requirements are not met.
  4. Know my biggest hopes and worst fears for this partnership. Test it over time to see to which the relationship gravitates toward.
  5. Know my cutoff point for the time and energy I am willing to invest.

Done. Decision made. Given the above criteria I don’t think this group is for me. I see that this relationship will not be able to give me what I need at any of these given points, which means it will just be a waste of time and an exercise in frustration.

I will choose to believe that doors will open to other relationships that are more suitable for me, and that won’t cost me nearly as much in the form of time, heart, or energy as this one has the potential to do. One thing I know is that if I remain invested in a place that isn’t a fit, my energy will be tied up and unavailable for the relationships that are right for me.

Does any of this sound good to you for choosing a dating relationship?