Relationships as a zero-sum game

I was discussing this with a new friend yesterday and she agreed that it was blog-worthy.

I have a particular way of conceptualizing my capacity for relationships. I see it as a zero-sum game. I have a finite amount of attention, energy, and interest in pursuing, improving, and maintaining relationships. If one person’s allocation of my time is to increase, that portion must come from somewhere. And if a new person is to enter my life, other relationships must be downsized in order to make room.

Here’s an illustration.

This graph shows how much of my attention is spent on the various members of the Brady family.

The numbers add up to 100%. Now, when I am forced to add another person to this pie, the numbers have to shift.

In discussing this imagery with friends, I have had some respond by saying that they don’t need to reduce what they have in order to add a new person to the mix. Poppycock, I say. I do think that people have differing capacities for relationships. 100% to one person is a different quantity than 100% to another.

Well, enough about that. Thanks, Stacy.



  • Anonymous says:

    Love the pie charts!!! So, I am back today to say check out my blog…littlemissfalangie. Maybe you will get the name, or maybe not. I am putting this whole blog thing on a trial run, so we shall see just how long I last. It is good to see you made use of our very interesting conversation yesterday. I always enjoy meeting people who I can partake in friendly chatter with, and of course, people who say “poppycock”. lol.

  • […] Although we had this great friendship, one should not be misled into thinking that there were no points on which we disagreed. There are two points that are germane to this story. Early on in our friendship, Alyssa told me that she did not believe that friendships should be work. We argued gently about this a time or two but there it was. The second thing that bears on this story is that I have a pattern or tendency to not do a very good job with long distance friendships. I have had several good friends that have moved away at the height of our friendship. Though there was a bit of effort in the beginning to maintain the friendship, it has always faded as our lives go on, now on separate tracks. I do not like this reality but I accept it. Alyssa, Kaleena, and many other people claim to be able to pick right up where they left off when they have the opportunity to see their old/distant friends. I do not possess this ability. I have a finite capacity for relationships. […]

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