Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making the First Move

Our world is full of standoffs. There are warring factions waiting for each other to disarm, arguing couples waiting for each other to apologize, and shy strangers waiting for someone else to approach them with an introduction. Waiting for someone else to do something can be excruciating, but I've come to realize that I often have another option. I can make the first move.

I get into arguments with people I love sometimes, and when someone does something that hurts me, I may really want an apology. I've come to realize, however, that I'm usually not blameless in these situations. Even if my offense seems the lesser of the two, there is no reason why I can't apologize first. By showing others that I am ready to heal a rift before they even offer an apology, I am demonstrating how much I value the relationship and issuing a loving invitation for them to move forward with me in the relationship. My pride may suggest that I shouldn't have to initiate healing if I didn't initiate the argument, but love tells me that I'll be happier if I do. Why should I suffer through a long estrangement when I could take the initiative to extend the olive branch myself?

Sometimes I'd just like to be closer to others. I may want them to invite me into their lives or to spend more time with me. I've learned that sometimes the best way to get them to do that is to offer them my time or to issue an invitation myself. If I want to get to know someone, I can invite that person to share a meal with me to or to come to a social function I'm hosting. If I want others to call me more, I should make sure that I'm also taking the initiative to call them. I think that it's easier for people to make the kind of commitment to me that I want them to make when they can see that I'm committed to them. Sure, it's hard to be the one who's always initiating, but if that's what it takes to keep a cherished relationship going, I'm willing to do it.

I've learned along the way that there's a difference between making the first move and being pushy. That line is different in different relationships, but I need to be on the lookout for it. At the same time, I don't want to relinquish all responsibility for taking action just because the other person might not be receptive. There is no harm in simply attempting to make or restore a connection. I can make one or two overtures, and if they aren't well-received, I can desist. I should be able to offer a gentle invitation without pressuring someone into giving me what I want. Sometimes things don't always work out the way I want them to when I make the first move, and I have to be able to just let it go and move on. Still, I think my chances are better if I at least try to take take action than they would be if I did nothing.

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