There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t even jump a puddle for you.

In the course of our lives, we evolve into many relationships.  These involve other people, of course, but can also have to do with other behavioral patterns.  Over the past four newsletters, we discussed Dr. William Glasser’s concept of positive and negative addiction.  Alcoholics, for example, have a self-destructive relationship with alcohol.  They are truly negatively addicted.   Sadly, those addicts’ dependency on their drug of choice makes the substance a priority for them.  While non-dependent social drinkers see having a drink or two as an option, alcoholics view alcohol as a priority.

But today’s newsletter is about human relationship choices, rather than substance dependence or so-called process addictions (i.e., gambling, compulsive shopping or pornography).  The inspiration for today’s newsletter is found in the quote below:

 “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option”

                                                   Maya Angelou

All of us are involved in multiple relationships.  Those associations can be labeled as superficial, casual, meaningful, or essential, depending on their level of importance in our lives.  Relationships that are less important can be seen as options.  For example, we may choose to attend a sporting event with friends or opt not to.  We accept an invitation to a party or politely decline to do so.  On the other hand, if we join a team and the group depends upon our presence, that commitment should be seen as a priority.  If we RSVP, affirmatively, to a wedding reception and the couples’ family makes a financial commitment based upon our acceptance, our attendance is a commitment and should be a priority for us. 

On a more serious level, friendships and other emotional attachments can be viewed through the lens of options vs. priorities.  It does not feel good to have a given relationship that we see as a priority in our lives be treated as an option by our friend or family member.

Homework:  Consider the various relationships in your life.  Include family, friends, and acquaintances.  Who are your priorities, and who are options for you?  It is time to re-think any relationship in which, as the Maya Angelou quote suggests, we are only an option to someone when we have viewed them as a priority.

No one is too busy. It just depends what number you are on their priority list.