SOCIAL STUDIES Spring Relationship Cleaning Jill Kushner

Spring Cleaning, loved by some and dreaded by others, is the annual major cleaning of your home that happens – wait for it – in the Spring. Since we’re about three weeks into Spring, I think it’s definitely time for a little Spring Cleaning. But since I’m not even ¼cup Martha Stewart, I’m going to focus on another kind of Spring Cleaning that I’d argue is even more important than the kind Martha will chat about on many (many, many) morning talk shows.  Spring Relationship Cleaning.

Spring relationship cleaning doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships; it’s friends, too. And by the way, we all know when we’re in one of these relationships that needs to be Spring Cleaned right out of our lives. You know when you have that nagging feeling that’s saying, should I really be in this relationship? That’s the sign I’m talking about. It’s just a question of whether we feel like paying attention to all of the signals. Signals that are usually manifested in hurt feelings. At some point or another, we should all probably step back and take a look at the people in our lives. Are they supportive? Are they as interested in our lives as we are in theirs? Do they ask questions? Are they kind to you? Do you often feel like the relationship is unbalanced or simply unfair? Do they watch Nurse Jackie? If they don’t watch Nurse Jackie, I have no idea why any of us would keep them around. But that might be getting too specific.

Martha Stewart lists the following on her website as part of her “Spring Cleaning Basics”. She suggests that we “switch it up. Change the direction of your ceiling fans. While the standard counterclockwise direction provides a pleasant breeze during warm months, you should run the fan clockwise in cold weather. This creates an upward draft, redistributing the warm air hovering near the ceiling throughout the room, thus heating your home more efficiently. Most fans have a switch on the base to adjust the rotation.”  THAT’S BASIC?! Martha Stewart can never come to my apartment. For our puproses, I do like the switch it up mandate, though. Sometimes you have to shake up your life a little bit so that when it settles, it’s actually more settled than it was in the first place. I’m not, by the way, suggesting that this is necessarily an easy thing to do. But I am suggesting to do it, if you have someone in your life that you’d be better off without. Yikes. Did that sound like I was suggesting that you arrange a Sopranos style hit on the person? That’d be ridiculous. That show is off the air. How could you hire one of them to do the hit? Obviously, that’s not what I meant. At all.

Believe it or not, it’s often actually not necessary to ring a bell at Town Hall and make some big announcement with a bullhorn that you are ending a relationship. Sometimes we can start to pull ourselves back from the person a bit and that can be a very helpful start. Be less available to listen to them talk about themselves for an hour and a half on the phone and so on. Ironically, as we’re discussing Spring Relationship Cleaning, it’d be sloppy of me to imply that simply retreating from the person will always be effective. Most certainly, there are plenty of occasions where you just have to have the talk. Where you just lay it out on the line and explain that it’s suddenly become really important for you to take care of you. That you took a good look at your life and you’re going to shake a few things up, as difficult as it may be, for your own mental health. Two things I can tell you for sure – 1. These conversations are never fun and 2. If the person is as selfish (or however you want to define ‘not good for you’) as they likely are … they know how selfless that you’ve been during the course of your relationship with them. And whether they choose to admit it to you or themselves or not – they get it. Whether they want to get it or not.

By the way, I should offer that it took many years for me to be able to Spring Clean Relationships out of my life. And it’s not that I’ve done it a ton, either. I have a tendency to get really attracted to people, both romantically or friendship-ly, super fast. And then I end up in these very close relationships where the actual real getting to know the other person doesn’t happen until you’re well into the relationship. Which, while quite fun, is hardly the healthiest way into something. And sometimes, you find out who someone really is when you two are already very much in each other’s lives. I definitely take responsibility for my part in those kinds of relationships. But thankfully, I can also vouch for being a good person. But just because you know you’re basically a good person doesn’t mean you’ve gone about your relationships in a good way. I’m continuously learning about both.

The one thing that seems to be the most important of all, before you address anyone else in your life (whether they are good witches or bad witches) is that you take care of you. You need to keep checking in with yourself to make sure you’re in a good place with yourself and then, after that, with the people that you have around you. We really need to keep a clean house, metaphorically. And then go from there.

What better time to take a good look at what’s up in your life and around your life than Springtime??

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    Anonymous | 5/05/2012 10:05 am
  2. Oh yeah!!! I love Jill Scott all the more now! Oftentimes we need the injection of ceiitavrty and art in the fight for our liberty to raise the rasa or essence to a level that speaks louder than words alone.Artivists are so very important and I was unaware that Jill Scott was a member of the movement.Thanks for that, sweets!

    Anonymous | 5/05/2012 01:05 am
  3. I read this when it was first posted and just wanted to come back and say it definitely inspired me!! I’ve spring cleaned my relationships and am feeling better already, thank you

  4. Jill, thank you so much for this insightful article! I did this for the first time earlier this year with a romantic relationship and it was really, really tough. You are one million percent right that these conversations are never fun. You really hit the nail on the head in the fifth paragraph – good people don’t always go about their relationships in a good way and we all have room to learn! I’m definitely still learning and it really helps to hear that others are struggling in the same way. Thank you so much for contributing!

  5. i know exactly what you mean about getting into friendships so quickly that you don’t get to know people until much later. i spent much of college just happy to pile on as many friends as possible, and very few of those relationships have lasted. thanks for your thoughts!

  6. I did it this year, but as a New Year’s resolution in which the whole theme of 2012 is taking care of myself. I thing it was suitable, since what had led me to the decision of cutting my ex- bff off happened the last day I would see her on 2011. Yes, we were best friends, but it had to be done, much like you said on paragragh 4, which I must say is exactly what I was thinking at that moment. Awesome article!

  7. I did this last spring and have felt a lot lighter ever since! That’s not to say I haven’t also felt the loss, because it’s never cut and dry, but you’ve said it perfectly. I really love this post and relate. Thank you for writing it out so plainly!

    Mary Traina | 4/10/2012 08:04 am