Early last week, I made the decision to invest $1,000 in Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that’s sort of like a stock and sort of like, well, something entirely new. I bought shares after watching the price of the coin rise steadily over the last few months.
I don’t know much about cryptocurrencies, other than digital money seems to be a trend right now with regard to investment in technology. To be completely honest, I don’t really care about how it works. All I care about is whether the money I put in now will be worth more than my initial investment in the long run. I bought what I could afford to lose without any real setback, but I hope that I’ll gain something of value in the long run. In other words, the risk is worth the potential reward.
But I’m not writing this essay from the standpoint of a financial advisor. I know very little about the best ways to become an internet millionaire, and my money-making efforts tend to skew more toward unconventional means (Etsy, Airbnb, Ethereum, weekend bartending, etc.) than they do traditional ways with proven track records of success (i.e. salaried 9 to 5 desk job.)
My dealings with money tend to be a gamble. There are variables outside my control that determine how much money I’ll make. Sometimes it’s a win. Sometimes it’s a loss. Either way, I kind of like the thrill of it.
Which says something about my personality: I bet on things I believe in.
That isn’t strictly related to financial matters. It applies to my relationships with people, too. And your relationships with people.
When we meet someone new and decide we want to get to know them beyond the level of acquaintance, we invest a little of our time in energy. We get dinner and drinks. We introduce them to our social circle. We tell them things about ourselves. The risk is relatively low. If we realize the person has a low return rate— that is, existing in our lives as someone who is energy depleting rather than energizing— we can walk away relatively unscathed. As long as it’s early on, at least.
But if our investment in someone is higher, if we spend more time with them and develop a close relationship, it can feel like we’ll never recover from our losses if the relationship tanks.
Money is easy. It’s simple and to the point. It can be gained and lost quickly, but there will always be other jobs, other investments, other ways to gain.
Relationships aren’t so black and white. They take time to build and develop, and that time can’t be regained once it’s lost. It can be devalued in an instant, with one selfish action or hurtful sentence. It doesn’t bounce back overnight.
And that’s why life feels so heavy when the people we love turn out to disappoint us. Because everything else in our life is logical and ordered and scientific, can be traced on a line graph or made relative on a linear timeline. Our hearts want to stay buoyant, to be as resilient and fluid as our currency. We want to believe in full recoveries, that the energy and love we invested in someone was worth it. If it was, even the low points would be worth it.
But, like bad investments, sometimes people just aren’t worth what we put in, regardless of how bad we want them to be. We’d save ourselves a lot of heartache if we just looked at them in that light, without judgment for ourselves for making a bad call. We can’t always know what’s best. All we can do is bet on what we feel will pay off.
A relationship can be rocky but still worth time and energy. There can be high points and low points, but if the line is mostly stable and comfortable with steady growth, and the two of you are mostly happy, it’s probably worth it to keep going.
But if the value of the relationship seems weighted at the beginning with a steady decline moving toward the present, perhaps it’s time to cut the losses and give our love to someone who doesn’t have a proven track record of disaster. Of course it can bounce back, can surprise us if we hold out… but it might take a long time, and there’s a chance that it won’t. Whether we choose to sell comes down to whether or not we believe it will.
We have to learn to put as much emphasis on the importance of our time, energy and love as we do on money. We need to learn to invest it in people who deserve it. If we’re constantly putting our efforts into a relationship that provides little in return, we’re netting zero. It’s not a self-sustaining system. Like money, there needs to be a positive flow of love coming in in order to keep turning it out. If there isn’t, we’ll burn out and end up with nothing.
Originally posted on Medium.