A Few Relationship Lessons That I Learned On The Streets.
Everywhere you go, there you are.
Sometimes you’ll be walking down the street and another person will be walking towards you, and you’ll kind of get in each other’s way. How you deal with this type of situation says a lot about you.
It can go a few different ways. Sometimes, due to logistical factors, or the age or manoeuvrability of the other person, or the things they might be carrying or whatever, you should be the one to move. Maybe you failed to realise this because you were too busy staring at your phone. How readily do you recognise this? How easy is it for you to get out of the way? What level of appreciation do you expect for your efforts?
Conversely, there are times when it’s clear that the other person should be the one to make way. You might reasonably expect them to see that you’re carrying something heavy and awkward, or that for some reason it’s harder for you to get out of their way than it is for them to get out of yours. What do you do? Do you move anyway? Do you communicate that you can’t move or that it’s difficult to do so? How? What do you do if, for whatever reason, the other person hasn’t realised that they should move and doesn’t?
Then you have the true “fifty-fifty”s. There’s no obvious reason why either of you should get priority, but one of you has to do something. Do you move right out of the way to obviate any problems that might arise? Do you turn it a power struggle and stand your ground? Do you move a little bit before waiting to see whether the other person responds in kind?
Sometimes these fifty-fifty situations will lead to that awkward little stalemate dance where you both keep blocking each other. How do these situations make you feel? Do you get cross? Do you feel anxious? Can you see the humour in the situation? Do you recognise that the other person is no more at fault than you are and is trying just as hard as you to fix it?
Moments like this aren’t just insights into your street management tactics, they’re insights into the tendencies that shape all of your relationships. If you think strangers should solve shared problems when you’re walking down the street, there’s a good chance you think the people around you should solve the shared problems that are causing a dispute. If you’re always the one moving, even when it makes more sense for the other person to do so, chances are you’re making too many concessions in your relationships.
If you can’t smile at the occasional stalemate dance, you probably approach the inevitable misunderstandings in life with the same lack of grace. If you get angry or aggressive when you believe someone should get out of your way, I’d be willing to bet that you’re not great at considering that other people have their own internal worlds, full of the same emotional and personal complexity as yours.
Sometimes it’s too difficult to see these aspects of ourselves in relationships. It’s too personal. There’s too much danger of feeling attacked and of attacking in return. But we are who we are, regardless of our environment. Our tendencies can be seen in everything we do, and every moment is an opportunity to see them. Our biases are present in every interaction. If you want to learn more about yours, just pay attention next time you take a walk.