Mental Health Matters | Transactional relationships

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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In our weekly mental health spot, a few thoughts on the interactions with people who just seem to want things from us.

Hello! A very warm welcome to the spot of the Film Stories site where we chat about wellbeing, mental health, and things that may be affecting you or people around you. This is a regular thing that we do over here, and have been doing for years. No miracle cures are offered, and it’s just a chance to stop for a bit and have a bit of a natter. Nothing more, nothing less.

This time around, something that’s come up in conversations with a few people over the past few weeks: how to deal with transactional relationships. In the briefest of terms, the people who get in touch with you only when they want or need something.

These, I think, are very easy to judge. We know the people – or think we know the people – who actually have our back in life, and those who don’t. The judge-y bit comes with the assumption that some people are only interested in us because of what they can get, and I wrestle with this one a bit.

A guiding thought behind a lot of these articles is that you never really know somebody else’s problem. You never fully get what’s going on behind the scenes in someone’s life. As such, whilst some people – let’s say it – are actually arseholes – I’ve also discovered that some people whose interactions with me are more transactional have reasons for that. Not my stories to tell, but it’s something that gives me pause for thought increasingly.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes sting, of course. Sooner or later, people who take do need to occasionally give, else a sourness creeps in. But also, I think it’s worth acknowledging too that at some point, we’ve all been guilty of being a little transactional. The pace and way of modern life almost guarantees it.

Still, it’s worth being aware of, and recognising it. None of us are perfect, we all have flaws. That’s part of being human.

But also, I’m very aware that over time, a transactional relationship will bring with it a degree of resentment and the feeling of being used. Most of us call this out a little too late, wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yet just as we don’t fully know everyone else’s story, everyone else doesn’t know ours.

As such, I think it’s worth recognising who the people who offer something back to us, and who are those who don’t. Throw in a dose of not fully knowing why things are like that, and in the end, and making decisions on where to focus our energies from there.

Thanks as always for reading. This column will return next week.

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