I was talking to a friend recently and she was wondering why it had taken so long for her to recognize that some of her long-standing friendships, ones that had fallen away over the past few years, had actually, never worked for her to begin with. Had always been too much work. Had never fed her. In effect, had left her empty.

I have spent a great deal of my life thinking about this very thing. More to the point, struggling deeply with needing and wanting more out of relationships when “more” was just not available. With breaking off parts of myself to make things work. Or lending parts of myself to the relationship to make up for what was not coming in from the other side.

Historically, I would stay and believe I should just be glad for what crumbs were available. Or, I would try and get the other “up to speed” so there would be the possibility that I could get fed in a way that made sense to me. And then, of course, I could chip the edges of myself off in the misguided belief that maybe this was the fix. Just be what they seem to want you to be, and maybe you’ll get what you want.

The message always being: Just slot in. Don’t rock the boat by wanting more. There is nothing more available. Take what is here and be happy you’ve got anything at all.

When it seems that crumbs (or even toxins or junk) is all that’s available to us, we will gobble up even the most un-nourishing of relationships in our desperate attempts to fill that need-based longing inside. We will convince ourselves that it is good enough.That it is what we really want.

To be clear, I am not talking about using others to fill a void that only you can fill. Nor am I talking about this from the consumptive, modern day model that says we all need more “friends,” followers and “likes.”

What I am talking about is the real, biologically-based drive to be in good company. To be seen and honored for who you are. To be in connection where all of you gets to be there. Never has this been more assaulted or relegated to the basement than in the past several years. Never have we been more lonely, fearful, socially awkward and prone to believing in sub par, sloppy second-hand substitutes like online connection and “social” distancing, as being the cure for what ails us.

All the while, the central dilemma that each and every human being will face, how it is that I can be fully who I am and have that be met in a satisfying way, gets twisted and distorted, rendering us helpless to know what it is that actually makes for healthy and satisfying relationships.

But as always, changing this lives right here, in this moment. Lives right in the next interaction you have that leaves you hungry, sour, and craving something else. What is that something else, you might ask?

Only you can know that. The trick is, can you be courageous enough to ask the question, listen for the answer, and then actually do something about it?