Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Just the perfect time to read this lovely piece on love and life by Joshua Fields Millburn.
“Every relationship—friendship, romantic, or otherwise—is a series of gives and takes. Every relationship has an Us Box. For the relationship to work, both people must contribute to—and get something from—that Us Box. If you just give but don’t get, you’ll feel used, exploited, taken advantage of; and if you only take but don’t give, you’re a parasite, a freeloader, a bottom-feeder.
Throughout most of our year together, Colleen and I both contributed significantly to our Us Box. We gave and gave and gave. Consequently, our love multiplied, and we each got out way more than we put in. It was beautiful, by far the best relationship of my life. We each contributed, and we both grew—we grew together. But a year into our love, I began to feel stagnant, as if I was no longer growing, and I wasn’t sure why. So I unintentionally built walls while I attempted to figure out my stagnation.
But in reality, I wasn’t growing as much as I once was because I was no longer contributing as much as I once was. While Colleen continued to give, I gave less and less but still took just as much as I’d been taking, getting without giving. I was selfish and inattentive, not realizing that you can’t grow unless you give.
As I took and took and took, the distance between us widened, and soon enough our Us Box was empty, depleted because I wasn’t contributing—I wasn’t focused on the relationship like I had been during all those magnificent days together, back when everything felt so effortless. Turns out that it takes immense effort to make something feel that effortless.
And so while the last few years have taught me that we are not the sum of our material possessions, I now know the obverse is also true: we are what we focus on.”