On a long drive recently, I came into a conversation where a friend recounted an episode where two male friends (hers, not mine) engaged themselves in a contest to see who could have the most DTRs (click the link if you are confused. Only read the top five definitions.) in one month. It began as serious, and then turned into a joke where they were eventually DTRing with people they just barely met just to rack up their numbers. I was struck at the idea of DTRing everyone... probably fueled by an overpowering sense of insecurity and desire to receive some feedback. With the story and high hopes in my pocket, I set off to DTR with as many of my friends as possible. I figured that I am leaving this place in a little over a month, so it would be nice to have the tablets of my heart inscribed with a discussion of where our relationships stood.
Some of these conversations were horrible; others beautifully enlightening and heartwarming; a few were surprising. From the various reactions, I earned a few things about friendships, and mostly a few things about myself. Perhaps I will write more on that last it later.
For now, though, I have learned that:
1. relationships are sacred
For most people, the beginning of the DTR was impossible, because the things we value about each other are deeply held beliefs and they are difficult to access because there isn't frequent discussion of this sort. Once that place was accessed, however, what spewed forth was tender and moving. This usually accompanied the realization that there are many things that are, in fact, indefinable about relationships.
2. defensiveness is counterproductive
Of the DTRs I had, a few went like this: me: So. What's going on between us? Like... where do we stand? them: Uhm... i don't know. what do you mean? me: I am doing this project where I DTR as many times as I can. I was just wondering how it is that YOU define our relationship, I guess. them: I don't know. Is there a problem? me: I don't think so, I was just thinking it would be nice to talk to you and see where we stand. I really value your friendship, and I feel like it would be nice to see how you felt. them: oh- I don't know.
These were rather unfulfilling, and helped me see more clearly that defensiveness is counterproductive... to everything. No progress was made in our relationship(s), and I extrapolated that there cannot be progress made in any realm if defensiveness is keeping you back. I myself am guilty of this, and perhaps can use this example to correct my folly in this area.
3. i need people, and people need me
I learned this from so many of my friends. Many said it to me in telling me about how we improve one another, and how we build one another. I have long believed that the reason we have friends is to see the goodness in our own selves. What a marvelous blessing.
4. i can be good at listening and asking the right questions.
This is becoming an increasing skill. I am working on it, and I can feel myself improving.
DTRs can be powerful good.
In other news, I sent a letter and told someone that I might love them.
"The human animal is in near-constant flux, a state of active refinement, and at a certain point, "comfort" becomes stagnation.
I am ready.
The other night while I was bedding down on the couch on the front porch, I
watched a girl ride her bike up and down my block, and eventually built
up the courage , right in the sometimes-circle cast only sporadically by
our streetlamp, to let go of the handlebars. The moment was beautiful ;
nobody else was around to applaud her or lend her their faith in her
success, but she ventured anyways."
I am feeling good about my move. In a conversation today with a dear old friend, I re-committed to maintaining the strings that have thus tied us together. I know that there will be a collateral loss in leaving this place, but I am left hoping that I will see the gain in spite of the loss, and that the friendships and relationships that are strengthened thereby will be stronger by degree of those I leave behind.