In a recent conversation with a client, she was relating (very animatedly) all of the ways her current partner DIDN’T meet her needs. Some of them were fairly unimportant but others weren’t. At all.
In fact they were right up there on her list of “non-negotiables”.
Now, anyone observing this conversation would be forgiven for wondering why she was still pursuing this relationship in spite of the non-negotiables.
The thought occurred to me too. Briefly.
So I asked her.
Her reply was not unexpected.
Quite simply, she was invested in a certain outcome.
And she was committed to hang-in there until she got it.
Which I knew she never would.
Because to reach that outcome, her partner would have to change. And we should never “change” other people. Nor manipulate them into changing.
That’s not good for any relationship. Ever.
Square pegs don’t fit into round holes – no matter how persistently we beat/bash/cajole them.
There was no happy ending here. But how to get her to see that?
An analogy popped into my head.
What if we could (loosely) divide relationships into 2 categories, I asked her?
Imagine a SPRINGBOARD used in gymnastics to leap/fly/somersault over a vault.
We jump onto it and it levers us up and over in a forward motion. Contact is brief but engaging. The springboard serves a short but important purpose.
Simply put, that springboard forms part of our journey over the vault.
A small part, but a significant part nonetheless.
Got the image in your mind? Good..
Now imagine a SKATEBOARD.
It too projects us forward, but it moves WITH us.
On a skateboard we can speed up, slow down, and navigate corners. Together.
It’s a mutual union with a common destination.
Quite a different picture, right?
Springboard? Or skateboard?
Those are the two categories.
The springboard relationship is brief. No expectation. Enjoying the momentum without any attachment.
Here we acknowledge that this doesn’t tick the boxes required for a skateboard relationship.
And that’s okay.
We simply enjoy the experience for what it is. Knowing that we’re a step closer to realising what we really want.
On the other hand, the skateboard offers us more resonance. A deeper connection. One that happens naturally and develops organically.
It’s a mutual, shared journey of discovery and adventure. For as long as it needs to last.
Both versions exist.
The key is RECOGNISING which one we’re in.
And that requires being able to rip off any blinkers and face the truth. Bravely.
My client? Well, she was trying to make a springboard into a skateboard.
Which never works.
That’s like trying to make an apple into a pear.
And to her credit, she saw that instantly.
Which shifted her perspective entirely.
Leading to different choices. And new approaches.
Yup, as always, it’s our PERSPECTIVE that ultimately determines our experience.
Circumstances vary, but this rule never does. Ever.