Vanessa Van Edwards describes ambivalent relationships as ones that with “people where you don’t know where you stand with them, you don’t know if they like you or not and they are also the people you don’t know if you like hanging out with them or not… You wonder is this going to be fun? Was that fun? Is this fun? Those are the ones that take more energy. Those are also the more dangerous ones. They tend to creep in and stay in.”
It’s these people who come into your life and maybe at one point the relationship was different and healthy and good for both of you but as people, we change and adapt and grow and sometimes these relationships don’t change with us.
So why do we cling to these relationships that linger longer than they should? Why do we water a dead plant when it’s clear both of you might feel the same way? Why do we hang on so long?
I think a lot of the time, you don’t want to admit what is true.
I think other times you cling to a history you have so when they call up and you try and make plans you feel a sense of obligation to them for the relationship you had.
I think other times these relationships aren’t for your own good but you want them to be. So you cling to these people and they cling to you because it’s not like you had a falling out or anything bad happened you just changed.
Edwards says, “Those are the kind of friendships that really drain you.” The ones where you don’t know where you stand. You want them to like you and accept you but you are also overcome with the uncertainty of their true intentions. So sometimes we try harder to try and win someone over simply because no one likes a feeling a rejection.
It’s when you feel a sense of obligation to see them simply because you haven’t in awhile. When a sense of guilt overcomes you rather than a genuine feeling of ‘I miss them’ that’s when you know it’s a relationship not worth either of your time.
These relationships are as easily defined as a toxic one. Toxic relationships you can point at and say this isn’t right here is an example and I don’t like the way this person made me feel.
But an ambivalent relationship comes with a shade of grey and confusion. Because they don’t make you feel bad but they don’t make you feel good either and it isn’t as clear so that’s an unbelievably hard realization to come.
But you have to understand the emotional toll it takes on you trying to maintain these relationships. You are suddenly overcome with doubt and questions of what are these person’s true intentions? What did they mean by what they said? What do they think of me? How do I feel? How do they feel?
When you are in a relationship and you are left doubting yourself that’s not the relationship you want to be a part of.
These are the friends you have out of convenience. The ones you have simply because they are in a group you’ve had for a while. People who know your past because they were a part of it but don’t always deserve to be with you in the future because they aren’t pushing they are just there.
And I repeat it’s nothing either of you has done wrong, it’s just a relationship that is wasting time and energy because you’ve outgrown each other.
Edwards says it’s really simple to determine these types of relationships with one question.
Which is: “Are you ever doubting if they are really happy for you?”
It’s the snide little comments where you don’t know if that was mean or not. It’s the conversations you walk away from and you aren’t in a better mood. It’s the time spent together and you walk away thinking, ‘Okay great we don’t have to do this for another few months now.’ As opposed to someone you want to see ASAP so much so you make the time pt you walk away feeling better.
The right types of relationships in our lives come down to a few simple questions?
Does this person want to see me succeed?
Are they showing it or just cheering me on when I’m doing well?
Could I turn to them with really big problems?
Do our conversations have substance?
If they walked out of my life tomorrow would it affect me?
Are they excited when I am and do they believe in me?
Do they help me to grow and learn?
Is it an equal exchange?
Friendships are more than just having a history or a relationship that lingers, it has to be about this person who makes an effort to be in your life not just when it’s convenient or one of you needs something.
You don’t owe a relationship to anyone.
It’s the people you have to second guess about if given the chance would they hurt you if they could? You don’t want to believe that’s the case with anyone in your life but there are certain people, you have this unintentional guard up around and little red flags that tell you to be careful with what you and the thing you say.
Pay close attention and learn to trust yourself a little more. Because the only relationships you need in your life are going to be the ones that make you better and keep you at a standstill or drag you down.