Friday, September 14, 2012

The Thinker Theory

Relationships are a funny thing.

A balance between a set of people that, when just right leaves everyone satisfied and fulfilled, but when lopsided for too long, typically winds up breaking up into a pile of emotional rubble.

For reasons of which I will probably never be sure, I have always strived to be the person in my relationships that goes the extra mile. Whether it is picking up that small something that I see, when I am out and about that makes me think of you, or writing down the time and date of you next doctor appointment, so that I can check in with you later, I have always wanted to be the kind of friend that makes you feel special. I have done this for so long that there is rarely even a conscious thought involved…its just second nature. So, mission accomplished, right? I should be happy, shouldn’t I?

Not exactly.

The fact of the matter is, humbling as it is to not only admit this, but to commit it to writing, sometimes I am a little jealous of my friends. Sometimes I would like to be the one that was thought of spontaneously…the one that is called up, for no reason at all, just because my friend was thinking of me. Over the years, I am not too proud to admit that I have kept score. And once the scales have tipped too greatly in the wrong direction, I have punished relationships, by quitting cold turkey, and seeing how long it would take the other party to notice that I had simply stopped reaching out. And every single time, I’ve been rewarded with…silence. Absence. Nothing.

It would seem that, without my friendly overtures, the friendship just sort of…dissolved. Disappeared. Became extinct.

Every single time, I missed the other person and was left feeling just a little bit hollowed out. A little bit smaller. A little bit unworthy. A little defeated.

Why was it that they didn’t call? Why didn’t they miss me? Why was I so insignificant to them that they hadn’t even noticed that I was gone? In my mind, somehow, the end of that friendship heralded some shortcoming within me. Some lack that I had, which made me easily forgotten. It would confirm what that small, malicious voice that we all carry inside of us, called self-doubt was telling me…that I just wasn’t good enough. Somehow that friend, that person about whom I was thinking, was more worthy and important than I could ever apparently hope to be, and in the end, I didn’t deserve their second thought.

Now, before this comes off as more of a pity party than it actually is, let me get to my point.

I do have a friendship, a single, longstanding friendship, that I can say with absolute certainty is a healthy, balanced relationship. Half the time, he calls/texts/emails/ whatevers me. The other half? Its me reaching out to him. There is no keeping score, there is no reason to. I never worry that if I call or text, it is going to be a bother…that I am being a pest, or a needy friend. And if I haven’t heard from him in a while, I don’t start calculating a deadline for him to get back to me, I simply say “Hey, where’ve ya been? You OK?” For this friendship? I am eternally grateful. This friendship? Allowed me to reframe all of my insecurities and doubts into my “Thinker Theory.”

I believe that there are two kinds of people out there…the “thinkers” and the “thinkees”. The thinkers are the folks who keep the “Just Thinking of You” division of Hallmark in business. They are the people that pick you up funny little gifts simply because it is Wednesday and somehow, miraculously always seem to remember that your daughter’s favorite animal is a pig. They do these things, not to inspire you to love them more, or to prove how great of a friend they are, but simply because it is who they are.

The thinkees on the other hand, are the folks that are lucky enough to reap these rewards. They are the object of the thinkers’ affections and the recipient of the unexpected phone call. The thinkees merit such treatment not because they have done anything grand or because they are in some way extra special, but simply because they happen to have had the good fortune of, at some point, forming a relationship with a thinker.

I believe that, at some point, everyone is a thinker and a thinkee. Think of new relationships. When you are freshly in like or lust or even love with someone, you are constantly courting their affection, and you can’t help but thinking about them. These thoughts lead you to come up with fun and special ways of showing them that you were thinking of them. The song that you play for them. The YouTube video that you send for them to wake up to in the morning. The note that you sneak into their lunch. In short, you are a thinker, and your beloved is your thinkee. Over time, this pattern either continues, or at some point loses steam, and you forget to think about them the way you once did. It doesn’t mean you love them any less. It just means that your thoughts of them are more background noise. A constant that is always there, just not registering enough on your radar for you to do anything about it.

Armed with this theory, and cloaked in the shield of my healthy friendship, I am happy to remain a proud thinker, and am officially putting you on notice.

I will call you just to say hi. No, I don’t need anything. And no, I probably don’t have anything important to tell you. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you.

I am also issuing you this challenge: do something unexpected for someone today.

Call someone just to say hi.

Take a picture of that funny thing you see, that you know she would get a kick out of and text it to her.

Don’t wait for an excuse, or a valid reason to do it.

Just be a thinker today. And maybe the day after too.