Relationships of convenience – how to spot them

Relationships, both business and personal, can be tricky to navigate. There are the relationships in your life that know no bounds, there are those that have clear limitations and then others which are very obviously based on little more than convenience. In between all of these of course are the variables, but if you look hard enough you’ll know to which category they belong.


Recently, I was sent a message by someone I haven’t spoken to in a long while. I wouldn’t call them a friend, more of an acquaintance with whom I share the same social circle. What I found really interesting about seeing their name in my inbox was that on more than one occasion I’d reached out to them and received zero response.


From my recollection I’d said a simple hello or asked how they were.  I may have even asked for a catch up, but I wasn’t too fussed about not hearing back.  People are busy, sometimes they forget to respond or are dealing with more important things in their life. I’ve been there, I understand, hence brushing it off and not giving it a second thought. Yet now I had in my inbox, under the guise of real friendship, a request for help that would have taken up a considerable amount of my time and efforts.


Frankly, I was a little surprised at both the transparency and boldness of it.


Most of us have experienced relationships with people who only surface when they need something, but occasionally the pattern is so engrained in our relationships or we’re so used to being treated this way that we don’t recognise it for what it is. Once aware of it, it can take people years to take a true stand, to call out those who matter to us or cut ties with those who don’t so much. Sometimes however, and as you get to know yourself and your worth more, those years turn into just one or two occasions before you’re wise to it and take action.


How powerful and beautiful an affirmation this is of the value you place on your self-worth and time.


If you want to become more astute at recognising and dealing with those who don’t your value relationship for the right reasons, there are some tips worth remembering:


– If someone asks for your help and you doubt whether you want to give it, understand that it’s not necessarily about your failing as a friend or colleague. It can sometimes be a true reflection of the relationship and what you believe is appropriate or would be reciprocated.


– Never feel pressured into doing something for a friend or a colleague that you don’t want to do. However, always understand the implications it will have on your friendship and take responsibility for any outcomes.


– Be watchful over those who always show up with an agenda. For example, they want to borrow money, drown their sorrows or need a ride. Whether they’re aware of it or not makes no difference, once you are – put a stop to it.


– Distance yourself from those who repeatedly are unresponsive to or belittle your own needs, but who have their own (often complex) that they expect you to meet.


It’s really important to know your place in relation to those who surround you. Using the guise of friendship or care, simply to get what you want is low, especially if you’ve had the chance to develop a real relationship ahead of time. Check-in with the friends you care about, maintain relationships with colleagues you value. Sometimes we burn bridges without even realising and before we know it, we’re on the other side of the phone wondering why no one is responding.

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