Look at the landscape: Evaluating an iffy relationship

The thing about a bad signal is that it’s often about geography. As in, there is a mountain in the way or you’re in the middle of nowhere. But instead of reflecting on the landscape you blame your phone.

The same is true of relationships.

Let’s say the dude you’re dating leaves a voicemail. You’ve been waiting to hear from him for a while. For weeks. But the signal is cut off and all you hear is, “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.”

Before you blame your phone and hyperactively imagine every possible preceding sentence to his send-off, reflect on the landscape. Why did he wait this long to call? Has he done it before? Is he often saying he’s sorry?

It’s the landscape of your relationship

When starting a new relationship or bumbling your way through an established one, it’s easy to obsess on the details on an event. Maybe he was late and you want to understand when, exactly, he left and where, exactly, was the traffic slowdown? Maybe his allergies are acting up? Maybe he only checks his texts once a week on Tuesdays?

Make like a satellite and check in on your relationship.

Make like a satellite and check in on your relationship.

Pull back! Take a look at the landscape. If you were a satellite in space and could see the sum of your relationship parts (which sounds sexier than I intended, because… parts) what would they look like? A peaceful oceanic watercolor or a pile of space detritus?

If You Have to Ask

This type of behavior inspired my novel, If You Have to Ask. Because if you do, that’s not a good sign.

The guy leaving this lame voicemail could be Jacob. In the book, it takes a long time for Jill to take that rocket ship into space and see that maybe her relationship with Jacob isn’t adding up to a pretty painting she’d like to hang in her San Francisco studio.

Don’t just take it from me. Listen to Greg Behrendt:

Here’s something else to think about: calling when you say you’re going to is the very first brick in the house you are building of love and trust. If he can’t lay this one stupid brick down, you ain’t never gonna have a house baby, and it’s cold outside.

Okay, now we’re mixing metaphors. A brick house in space? But we’re both saying is that there is someone out there who you won’t have to decode! Who you won’t have to make excuses for! Even though you may not feel that way, it’s true.

Further reading: He’s Just Not That Into You and If You Have to Ask.