My friend recently told me about a woman who broke his heart. It was the kind of wrenching heartbreak that launches my protective maternal instinct into overdrive. The conversation between my friend and I got me thinking about relationships: why they start, what makes them great, and why they (sadly, often) fail.

I asked my friend: “What of yourself do you see in her?”

The question made him pause. After a few minutes, he told me that he was happy when he was with her, most of the time, but did not he see himself in her, in the way she behaved or thought about people, relationships, and life. If this woman didn’t reflect his values, his philosophy and beliefs about life, why was he happy when he was with her?  Was it because he was with someone? Or because he thought she cared about him?

My friend left my house and I took a moment to reflect on my current and past relationships.

I asked myself: “How have I forged the strongest relationships with my colleagues, friends, clients, and customers?” And BAM – it hit me!

It all boils down to one essential piece of advice: take a longer-term perspective on developing relationships. If you assume that relationships and rapport can indeed be developed in a matter of moments, you’ll inevitably be disappointed.

In many cultures it can take quite a long time to establish a relationship. In Sweden, for example, small talk is not the norm and it can take months or years to develop a relationship with colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, etc. Once that friendship has been developed, it is often a deep, personal, and long-lasting one. Albeit being the daughter of a mother who grew up near Stockholm, it took me years to feel authentically close to our friends overseas. Although it required time to establish those deeper connections, today I am fortunate to call these wonderful people my closest friends – like family.

Keeping this in mind, I thought back to my friend and his relationship that recently ended.  It occurred to me that they met, they jumped into the relationship, they hardly knew each other, and abruptly the partnership dissolved.  They didn’t really know each other, and they didn’t share the same values.

Our love of ourselves is reflected in everything we do and everyone we choose to have in our life.  And the most intimate of our relationships tell us the most about how we think of ourselves and what we value.

We all meet people we see worthy of having a relationship with – be it a friend, a lover, or a colleague.  It’s good to remind ourselves that the bond may not happen immediately.

Think about what is important to you, how you choose to live your life and what brings you joy and satisfaction. And know that values can show up differently for each person.

Sometimes it takes time to develop the bond.  Life is relationship driven and the strongest and longest ones are the most important.

And who doesn’t want that?

Photo Credit: Ryan Greenleaf of our friends, Fran & Neil.  Ryan is an amazing photographer, and near & dear to my heart.  Check out his work here:

Thanks for reading!

Carissa Abazia