As promised, this week we are going to talk about another fundamental element of healthy relationships, the 50% rule.
Any relationship between two people, may that be a romantic/professional/family/friendly one etc., consists of three parties: the “me”, the “you” and the “us”. The only way for the “us” to be formed and sustained is that the “me” and the “you” come together, that they meet somewhere along the “distance” that separates them.
The 50% rule dictates that both parties should cover equal distance and meet in the middle. This might mean, in some cases, effort and even compromise, which should be equally shared between the two parties.
If you wonder why, there are more than one explanations.
To begin with, if one of them covers, let’s say, 80% of the way to meet the other, at some point, they will be tired. They will see themselves as victims. There will be lots of frustration, anger and bitterness caused by unfulfilled expectations, which, in turn, will “poison” the relationship.
More often than not, the individual who does a lot more than the other to sustain the relationship is just repeating a pattern they learned during childhood: “I am only worthy of love when I do things to make others love me”. It is very difficult for them to leave the relationship because, to them, this is what a relationship is, but I will not get into that now.
Another reason why doing a lot more than their partner is unhealthy for the relationship is that, by constantly doing, let’s say again, 80% of the work, they only leave a 20% margin for the other one to act. They are depriving them of the opportunity to contribute to the relationship and grow along with it. They are enabling their partner to adopt a “lazy” behavior, which might seem comfortable at first but with catastrophic consequences. They are putting themselves on a pedestal, being the holy and mighty ones, while covertly expressing that their partner is inferior to them and have nothing important to offer to the relationship.
What is more, if your partner actually wants to do things for you, to share and to show their love and their commitment to the relationship, there will be no, or very little, room for such an expression of self. This could lead to frustration on their part as well.
At the beginning of the relationship, it is possible that one party need to cover more distance than the other one does in order to meet them. This could be necessary for various reasons (one party is reluctant to believe that the other party’s intentions are honest due to past experience, trust issues etc.) but only until the relationship is established and both parties can equally contribute to the relationship.
This could also be the case after the relationship has been formed, for example, when one of the partners is going through some rough times and the other one needs to be there for them to support and help them more than they should normally have to. But, if this keeps going for long periods of time or if it is recurrent, it should be looked into and the relationship should be reexamined.
Overall, consistently and continuously doing more than 50% to sustain a relationship, does not do anyone any favors. It is deeply unhealthy and the person who does t or puts up with it needs professional help. Such patterns of behavior reveal deeper issues that need to be resolved before these individuals are able to form and sustain healthy relationships.
When we decide to do our share, our 50%, two things might happen. Our partner will either do their 50% and we will be in a healthy, authentic relationship or they will not do their fair share and there will be no meeting in the middle. There will be no “us”. There will be no relationship.
Whatever the case is, it is a win win situation! We are either in an authentic relationship or we are not in one. We can then be available and leave the space for the right person to enter our lives.