Posted by: Ed Deiss | May 14, 2018

The Best Relationships Are The Ones You Don’t Have to Have

An imaginative scene from Get Smart…

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

‘I’m missing your point by thaaat much, 99. Can you say that again?’

So Agent 99 clarifies ‘OK Max, this may not make sense at first so I will say it again: The best relationships are the ones you have the option not to be in.’


So Max after getting a suggestion from 99 on what to do next says ‘If you don’t mind, 99, I’d like to figure this out myself.’

After activating the cone of silence to think it over, he then turns it off and says ‘So what you are saying, 99, is the best relationships are the ones you don’t have to have.’

‘That’s brilliant Max!’  99 concludes knowing full well he just repeated her suggestion in his own way.

Get Smart, a great TV series. I enjoyed 2006 movie as well. Swordfish!!!

There is a saying from Mark Twain, “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option”.

Ever happen to you?  That is what I thought.

The more I observe and think about my experience, the best relationships are the ones you don’t have to have, you have an option to be in them. In other words, you are in it because you want to be and make it a priority.

As I look around at relationships with friends, family, and couples I know, including what I strive for with my wife Angela, what are the dynamics at work?  It is evident that they are in it because they want to be, whether it is professional or personal; including ones with family. Being related does not necessarily mean there is a relationship; you can chose whether or not to make it so.  As you may have read, I certainly did with my Mom and I made that decision over time.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Great relationships are not easy to form and harder to maintain. What is it about these relationships we don’t have to have that we want to have anyway?

There appears to be some common threads:

  • A genuine and sincere interest at heart of the people we relate to, with expressed friendship; the words humility, selflessness, trust, and purposeful come to mind
  • Encouragement rather than criticism with sincere intent to listen and understand the other’s interests and point of view
  • Presence of a healthy mutual respect, including respect of differences; even the disagreements are respectful and don’t go down the slide of criticism and contempt
  • Ability to be introspective and accept responsibility rather than defensive pointing of fingers and assigning blame elsewhere
  • A preference for dialogue that works to resolve rather that allowing conflict to escalate to the “I’m avoiding you” level
  • Engaging of the mind before the mouth and keeping anger and emotions in check

It reminds me of “Be the friend you want to have”. – Unknown

Relationships in your life that are based on those threads will be there for you in times of need to encourage, correct, listen, and help out any way they can. They will be the ones that really care. I call them my ‘3am friends’ and they are there for you even at that hour.  Of course, we must ask ourselves if we will be there for others as relationships are, after all, a two-way street.  They require investment from both parties, and there is no greater investment that you could make.

Relationships that you don’t have to have are worth your effort because of the joy and life that they give; they must be fought for and maintained.

With the perspective of being a kid raised in Asia by a single parent, and one myself for seven years, keep them close because you probably have realized through your own lens that:

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Yogi Berra

Until next time,


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