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May 24, 2010

Relationship hacks

Filed under: blogs — posted by Breakup Girl @ 5:41 am

BG can’t believe it’s taken her this long to stumble across the incredibly useful, borrowed-from-techno concept of “relationship hacks.” (Then again, I’m one of those Luddites who hasn’t yet tweaked her iPhone to circumvent AT&T.) I’m not talking about hacky comics who are all, “Aren’t men and women different? FOLKS!” or hacking your way into your sigO’s Hotmail account, or their MIND, in order to access suspect correspondence, offshore account numbers, etc. I — along with a whole bunch of smarties who beat me to it — am using the basic metaphor of re-configuring a system to function in ways not part of the original design. A clever fix, a wise workaround. There is a Relationship Hacks website, but a livelier and more recent conversation seems to have gone on in this Ask Metafilter thread. To get the ball rolling, Wyzewoman poses this question:

A few times over the years, I’ve solved a relationship problem in a way that I was really proud of, because the solution met everybody’s needs when it looked like such a solution didn’t exist. I still turn back to these examples when I’m faced with a new difficulty, because I may be able to model a new solution out of the old ones.

An example of what I’m talking about: a roommate declared one day that he was no longer willing to share dishes with me: I didn’t wash them well enough for his liking, even after repeated reminders. Well, that sucked — it would be extra time, expense, and bother. But, we were able to talk about it calmly, and we worked out that really it was only the glasses that I drank milk out of which weren’t getting cleaned well. So I suggested that I get a set of milk-drinking-glasses, just for me, and that we continue to share the rest of the dishes. And it worked! We never fought about dishes again. The lesson I learned from that: try to whittle a problem down to its smallest core, and solve that. [Emphasis added by BG.]

It’s just a silly example — drinking glasses! — but I’ve remembered this incident for years, and modified the solution in various other issues of household maintenance. I’d love to have other examples to draw upon going forward. So, MeFites, when did you come up with a relationship solution that you were particularly proud of, and what lessons did you draw from it?

Responses include: Never use “but,” “should,” or fake “I’m fine”; the FailDance(tm); and my favorite, The Great Game of Moral High Ground. Read, learn, apply, and come back here to share your best hacks. (As above with the glasses, roommate — and family — relationships count, too.)

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