Monday, March 08, 2010

The (Un)Welcome Mat or Please Wipe Your Feet & Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Part 2

The blog topic about outstaying guestly welcome had been percolating for a couple of days. And I knew last night as I laid waiting for sleep to take me where it would that it would be my topic of conversation for today.

What I didn't expect is the turn the topic would take in my subconcious during the night.

Recently, two close friends - a man and woman - decided to end their romantic relationship of two-ish years. One is heartbroken. The other is sad...and probably more than a little relieved.

The specifics of their relationship aren't important to this conversation. What is at the heart of the conversation is how my thinking about the ending of this relationship between two awesome people superimposed itself over the top of my thoughts on overstaying one's welcome.

Most relationships end eventually.

I guess all do if we want to get all technical and stuff with that whole death thing.

But I'm talking about relationships ending because at least one person decides he or she needs to evict the guest, do some spring cleaning, and buy a new welcome mat1.

It all of us - from both sides of the door.

It occurred to me, again in my sleep, that we are both guests and hosts in our relationships. We invite another into our lives, we visit their lives...occasionally we try to blend our lives by living together, getting married, committing to financial bondage, etc. But, in the end, we're still just visiting each other.

Have you ever had a visitor who stayed too long? One who you wondered if there'd be anything salvagable of your relationship before the visit was ended?

What if, like the best sort of houseguest, we all knew when it was time to go home so that the invitation to visit again was more eagerly offered?

What if we spent less time in each other's emotional houses, less time insinuating our own personal decorating style in someone else's space, less time leaving our dirty underpants lying on their floor next to the hamper, and more time making our own emotional houses more inviting for special visits?

Would relationships last longer? Would the need to replace the welcome mat lessen if it weren't used as often and thoughtlessly? What if we didn't take the opportunity to visit for granted and, rather than viewing it as an open door invitation, it became a formal invitation to attend regularly held private events?

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone but me.

I just know that when I'm visiting, I'm on my second-best behavior most of the time. I'm polite, I pick up after myself, I don't insinuate myself, I don't expect to be entertained 24/7, I don't expect to have my way paid for without reciprocation, I try to arrive with a hostess gift, etc.

Can those same principles be applied to a successful relationship?

I don't know.

Maybe this is all analogy for what really makes a relationship work...respect, space, consideration, kindness, manners.

Houseguests and lovers...we're the same thing.

1: And if you're me, you're just hoping beyond all hope that welcome mat comes with a hunka hunka well-hung burnin' love whose name may or may not be Mat. Because that would just be ironic and I love me some irony.

2: As much as some people try.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Once again, love your outlook, Jane. Esp the part about "making our own emotional houses more inviting". I think many relationships are undone by the imbalance caused by spending too much time at one person's "house", if you will, while not cleaning up and openly offering invitations to our own. But I love the houseguest analogy, and it's an excellent reminder not to get so comfortable in our relationships (whether a friendship or one of the romantic variety) that we forget about the importance of respect, space, kindness, etc. Oh, and if you know where to find these welcome mats with the hunka hunka, be sure to pick one up for me! (and I don't mind if his name isn't Mat);-)