When Relationships Go South

May 12, 2009

Ever been surprised in relationship?

It’s pure sweetness. When an unexpected friendship shows up, one I didn’t anticipate or solicit, it’s like Christmas in June. But sometimes the surprise isn’t so sweet. Sometimes a relationship doesn’t turn out like I expected or goes south without explanation.

I hate it when that happens.

I’m prone to disappointment and don’t handle it well. Some of that is history, and some is just wiring. I’m a little over the top on the idealism meter, meaning I dream big and then invest 200% to make it happen. Not all bad, but leaves me susceptible to disappointment, because … (are you ready for this?) …

No human relationship can live up to the ideal. EVER.

We’re talking about PEOPLE here, and whenever PEOPLE are involved, it’s going to get messy.

So, back to why I’m telling you this …

Recently (meaning over the past year) I’ve watched a couple relationships go south. Two were very close and, therefore, heartbreaking. Another just surprising and disappointing. At first I blamed myself: “Something’s wrong with me.” After beating myself up mercilessly, I moved to the other extreme: “What a jerk. I’m better off without so-and-so.” (All this sounds so junior high. Here’s to authenticity.)

All this to say I’m grieving relationships that didn’t turn out like I hoped. Don’t know all the reasons why. Don’t know that it matters. But I do realize this:

It happens. The minute we take a gamble on relationships, we’re guaranteed a dose of disappointment. Relationships come and go, and sometimes it stings. However, I also know I’ve been the source of disappointment to someone else. I didn’t meet their expectations. Doesn’t matter whether or not it was intentional, it just happens. I’m a PEOPLE. Which means I make messes.

It also means that today, while I mourn some relationship results I didn’t expect, I’m determined to choose the one thing I’m hoping others will choose when they think about me:


It’s like a big eraser that cleans up the mess for everyone.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” ~ 1 Peter 4:8


  1. alece

    “I’m grieving relationships that didn’t turn out like I hoped.”

    me too.

  2. Robbie Iobst

    You can’t be best friends with everyone. This is a statement that is difficult for me, because a) I want everyone to make me their number one priority. :0) How’s that for authenticity and 2) I want every friendship I have to be my BEST friendship. Just doesn’t work that way. I, like you, am messy. So when things go south, most of the time very subtly, it is difficult.

    Thank God for the friendships who are equator steady in my life and the ones who seem to be going north. :0)

  3. Deana

    Great post. I do the same thing and need the same grace at times. I’m currently grieving loss of trust in a very vital relationship and while it hasn’t ended – gone south is very fitting, meaning it’s changed. I’m also beating myself up over the fact that while I’ve forgiven the issue, I cannot bring myself to trust them ever again and that bugs me.

    I like your voice.

  4. Michele

    Alece, I’m sorry. I hope God restores the years–the relationships–the locusts have eaten.

    Robbie and Deana, I’m glad you can relate. And I’m thankful for your grace with me.


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