The 80/20 Rule


I was talking with a friend of mine today about a friend of hers whose interested in me. Apparently my friend is trying to play matchmaker  despite the fact that I have no serious intention of getting deeply romantically involved with anyone at this point in my life. However I’m a lover and I like having lovers so I’m open to the possibility. When I inquired about this friend of hers she made a comment that struck me. She said that her friend is not the type to leave a situation that’s “stable and comfortable” for something that’s “new”. Of course this was in direct reference to the circumstances surrounding my most recent ex. However it caused me to reflect on the bigger picture and the concept of the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule basically states that one doesn’t leave a partner that has 80% of what you want for someone else that has the 20% of what’s missing or lacking in your current relationship. It’s really kinda common sense. What logical person would gamble with their relationship or willingly  give up a lot just to gain a little? But it happens all the time.  People tend to get bored in long-term committed relationships. Or they focus so much on the negatives that they start scouting for greener pastures. Then, as if in answer to the energy that’s being projected, someone comes along that appears to be new, exciting, and everything that the current partner isn’t. And when a person is bored and discontent with who they’re with its rather easy for them to chase after what they think is better. Exciting is hardly ever stable or practical though.

On the flip side it’s also important to know what is it that we want and don’t want in a partner or relationship. To be clear on the things that may be deal breakers and the things we’re willing to compromise on. To pick and choose our battles between the issues that can be worked out and the ones that can’t be changed. Most importantly, it’s essential to know what you’re working towards and whether or not the relationship has all the elements that will move you towards that end goal. If you’re faced with two options and one has the most of what you need to reach your goals while the other has the bare minimum…well…the choice is kind of obvious.

I often say that the grass is greener where you water it. Our relationships mirror who we are on the inside.  If we are discontent within ourselves then we’re naturally never going to be happy no matter who we’re  with. I’ve also realized that an unhealthy ego or sense of entitlement tends to interfere with feelings of gratitude, causing us to harbor a lack of appreciation for our partner. This is what makes us focus more on the small negatives than the many positives within the relationship.  This is something I’ve personally been guilty of and have had to check myself on.

Emotional immaturity when it comes to committed relationships also plays a part. This was a common experience when I was younger, but as I got older I started to see this less and less. That’s because as we mature and settle into who we are stability in a relationship starts to become a priority. We’ve identified what it is that we want. We’re more inclined to think about our future and how our current actions affect that future. We are grounded in the things that are important to us, seeking out and maintaining relationships with those who can help us towards our life’s purpose.  We’re less likely to get caught up in random thrills or the disruptions that usually come with them.  What I’ve observed in couples at this stage is that they are fully aware that their relationships are what they make of them. Therefore they focus on continuously cultivating within their relationship the things they may feel are missing, rather than seeking it elsewhere.

I’ve never been one to “leave” someone I’m with for another. This is because I hardly ever get into committed relationships to begin with. But also because once I commit to someone, that’s it. I never allow anyone to pull me away from what I’ve established and built. On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of experiences of being “left” for someone else. This used to have detrimental effects on my self-esteem but as I’ve grown and gained better understanding  I realize that it was more a direct reflection of the people I was with (and my choice to be involved with such people) and less to do with my “success” or  “failings” as a partner. Anyone who would willingly trade 80% for 20% is saying a lot about what they think of their own worth–about what they think they deserve. Or don’t deserve.

The same applies to me as well. The lesson for me is never to forget what I am worth.



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