Extremely good or bad times are real relationships test

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In normal, or even slightly good or bad times, anyone can be a good friend, a good business partner or a good spouse. Normal times never show the darkest part of a person’s character, unless the person is an asshole by default. Extremes do. Extremes show whose personality really is larger than life and whose character is lower than a snake’s belly. Well, everyone makes a mistake or breaks from time to time, but if you see consistently atypical behavior in extreme times when interacting with someone, you can see deep down their soul. You don’t even have to look them in their eyes.

When things go really badly, people very clearly show how strong their rational part is compared to their instincts as well as how stable their emotional self is. They show their true nature and how mature they really are to other people. Surprisingly, when things go extremely well, the darker human nature often comes into play even more. You probably heard the quote that nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test man’s character, give him power.

Thus we have two real life relationships test – both extremes, when things go either really well or really badly, put relationships to a tough test, especially the closest ones.

When things go extremely badly

Bad times are usually a very tough testing period for relationships. Any kind of adversity, losses and other tragic situations, big or small, have a huge impact on your life and your relationship with other people. Job loss, money issues, accidents, death of the people you love, you name it.

From what I’ve seen, there are only two possible outcomes when things go extremely badly. Either people turn on each other and start fighting, or the extremely bad situation gives them an opportunity to connect even more and deepen the relationship. The fact is that relationships that endure extremely tough times usually become even more substantial.

In bad times you have only two options in a relationship in your life:

  1. You can turn to each other and start fighting
  2. You can connect even more and deepen the relationship

I guess the second options is a good thing in a bad thing. But unfortunately people prefer to turn on each other than find a deeper mutual connection. But why? Many times, extremely bad times make you feel bad about yourself, they hinder your self-confidence, and they make you feel more insecure and intolerant. Consequently, your capacity for love decreases.

The more your self-confidence is damaged by an external event, the more your capacity for love decreases. If your perception of value was, for example, strongly grounded in your fancy job and you lost the job, you feel unworthy and thus your perception of your value in a relationship changes as well. By fighting, you usually want to make people love you more and chain them onto yourself in a very aggressive way. It’s a kind of unhealthy compensation for the feeling of lost value.

The second thing that often happens is that it’s much easier to blame others for many types of different failures and bad things happening to you. It’s much easier to blame the partner that s/he didn’t support you enough etc. than it is to admit to yourself that you f*cked up. You protect yourself and your feeling of value by blaming others. Ironically, the easiest way to start a fight is with the people you love and care about the most. That’s the point when relationships start to go south in tough times. You get insecure, aggressive and start accusing your loved ones instead of facing the truth and building even stronger relationships based on more effective communication, mutual care, empathy and understanding. It can be done, but it takes a lot more effort.

Sad couple

When things go extremely well

Much less obvious is why people fight when things go extremely well; well, usually they go extremely well for one person in a relationship or even both parties. Examples of extremely good times are when someone gets a big promotion, enters a new well-known social circle, gets to know new people who rank higher than them on the sexual market value and is exposed to their affection, when business goes really well, when someone acquires larger sums of money etc.

Two things very often happen in that kind of a situation. First of all, outer stimuli (good happening) stroke the ego too much. When the ego gets too much stroking, people often start getting full of themselves, they become cocky and arrogant, and suddenly they feel like they don’t need some people around them anymore so much. They enjoy their extremely good (many times unexpected) situation so much that suddenly they don’t give a f*ck about the people around them anymore or they feel superior to them.

The second thing that often surfaces is the natural human tendency of trying to progress and strive for better things in life. When something extremely good happens to you, you get a new reference point. You feel much better than you used to. So everything around you must be much better than it used to be, from items to people; and so you start looking for things and social circles in the same new league. Because your perception of value increased, you also look for people who have higher value in your eyes.

It’s some kind of The Diderot Effect: The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new (fancy) possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new (fancy) things. As a result, you end up buying things that your previous self never needed to feel happy or fulfilled. It happens pretty the same in the relationships.

Both things, the illusion of ego and the new view of higher self-worth, lead to a big relationship test with all the people with whom you had normal and totally good relationships before that extremely good thing happened. But there’s a big trick in this game. You still have some kind of an attachment to the people in your life, which leads to internal conflict. You still care for them but you want to move on at the same time.

Secondly, your new perception of self-worth makes you feel good when you’re with them because you feel superior to them. But they start feeling shitty when they’re around you. Last but not least, there is always also a question of what will happen when good times go away and your luck strikes out, who will you go to then? In movies, you can often see the moment when someone realizes that a good thing is not as shiny as s/he thought, and they come back to old friends.

If that happens once, it’s kind of understandable, but if it happens many times, it’s an ugly form of hypocrisy. There’s nothing wrong with being self-confident, maybe even a little bit cocky sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to become better and better and be surrounded by better and better people, items and stuff. There’s nothing wrong in deciding to end a relationship if you feel that its expiration date has come because you’ve progressed faster than the other person. It may not be nice, some people would already see that kind of behavior as proof of a lousy friendship, but at least it’s honest.

What definitely isn’t right is (1) having a relationship with someone only when things go bad, constantly leaving them at good times and coming back at bad times, (2) being around someone just to feel superior to them or seeing them as plan B, and what definitely isn’t right is (3) going against someone you love (seeing them as less valuable) just because something good is happening to you.

When things go really well, your instincts should be to share your happiness and success with the people you love, not feeling superior to them and seeing them as less valuable. Even if your emotional self does feel a little better for a second, your rational part should correct your emotions immediately. If your emotions march off, you have to put them back into the right frame with your intellect. Just remind yourself why a relationship with someone is really important to you and what they contribute to your life.

In bad times you have only two options in a relationship in your life:

  1. You can share your happiness and success with people you love
  2. You can start feeling superior and full of yourself and become a hypocrite (in this case is better to end a relationship)

I have seen it a hundred times in personal and professional lives. Suddenly a business takes off. One partner would like to cash out, the other to reinvest. They don’t communicate enough. Both of them see each other as an unnecessary part of the business and a burden to their own goals and interests. They start fighting. Business goes down. Before, they were best friends. After the first real success, they become the worst enemies. A similar situation often happens in the personal life.

Ask yourself the questions below. They do sound a little bit silly, but if you know how to be honest with yourself, they’ll tell you a lot about you and your relationships:

  • If Jenifer Lawrence/Channing Tatum or whichever famous person is your favorite actor fell in love with you and tried to seduce you, what would you do? It doesn’t even have to be a famous Hollywood star, make it your national or local TV star, or your last crush or whoever you maybe feel attracted to and is out of your league.
  • If you won a big amount of money in the lottery, let’s say 10 million EUR/USD, or if your business started generating 30,000 EUR/USD profit per month, what would you do?

Would you stay with your spouse and friends and family or in any other relationship? Would you spend more or less time with them? Would you start fooling around and find new friends or would you share your success with old friends? Ask yourself sincerely and you’ll see very well what would be the relationship test outcome of extremely good times.

If the answer is that you’d keep a specific relationship, or invest even more into it and share all of your success without feeling superior, there’s a very good chance that a relationship would pass that kind of a life test. If you’re tentative and undecided or if questions like that piss you off, you should probably rethink your relationships. We’re talking about only one context here, and that’s what would happen to your relationships if your position were to drastically improve. There are many other elements and angles that influence the quality and duration of relationships, but this kind of a test can still tell you a lot.

When things go extremely badly and extremely well

There’s also a third situation, when things go both extremely badly and extremely well at the same time. In those kind of times, relationships and people’s characters are put to an even harder test.

An example would be when parents die and inheritance has to be split among siblings. The extremely bad situation (and a shocking one) is the parents’ death. Kind of a good situation for many people is the inheritance, and usually there’s a bigger sum of wealth in play because of the real estate. There are so many families where people really had strong bonds with each other, until something like that happened. It’s heartbreaking how many families fall apart because of the inheritance fight.

The same situation often happens in business, when things go well in some ways (generating money, usually), but there are also many challenges present. People are afraid of losing something valuable and they often prefer to blame others than themselves for all the problems. Relationships become relationshits.

Everyone breaks sometimes

We all sometimes make mistakes in relationships. We hurt people and people hurt us. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. That’s fine. What’s not okay is if you start behaving toxically and you cripple your relationships every time something extremely good or extremely bad happens to you.

Those are the times when you should put in extra effort to strengthen the most valuable relationships in your life. If they’re really valuable to you, and not only plan B or a compromise you think you had to make because of your temporary situation, you’ll make sure that extremely good or extremely bad times bring out the best in you and the people you love.

The key takeaways are the following:

  • Extremely good and extremely bad times will have a big influence on your ego, self-worth and your perception of yourself and your relationships.
  • If a relationship is really sincere, based on love, mutual respect and is valuable to you, you’ll look for ways to enhance, strengthen and deepen the relationship in both extremes. You’ll open yourself up more, you’ll invest yourself more, you’ll communicate more, and you’ll show more loving and tender energies. You should see extremely good and extremely bad situations as an opportunity to build even more quality relationships. Both extremes should bring out the best version of yourself and you should bring out the best in other people.
  • Many relationships won’t pass the test. Maybe because of you, maybe because of others. That’s okay, you just have to be fair and sincere, to yourself and to others. Even if it’s time to end a relationship, you can do it the right way. There’s nothing wrong with moving on, but you shouldn’t keep things open. Give a close to a relationship that you think has to end.
  • But what you definitely shouldn’t do is start fighting with the closest people in your life only because things go bad for you and it’s the easiest thing to do. Don’t blame or abuse others because of your own sorrows. And what you also definitely shouldn’t do is keep relationships in your life only as plan B or only to make you feel good about yourself, feel all superior, because currently things are going really well for you. That’s an ugly form of hypocrisy.
  • The good news is that real life relationships test will help you to keep the relationships that really matter in your life and clean all the others. It may hurt, but in the long run such a relationship cleaning will help you make a room for the new people – people who fit you better in your new period of life.

About the author

Consulting and management coaching

Blaž Kos has managed venture capital investments over the past 12 years and participated in the development of the start-up ecosystem in the region. Today, he advises companies on growth strategies, process optimization, the introduction of lean agile methods and the digitalization of business. In addition to the Slovenian blog, he also writes an English blog, which was selected among the 50 best bloggers in the world in the category of personal and business growth.
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