Monday Notes: Low-Maintenance vs High-Maintenance Relationships

A few months ago, I was talking to my daughter about some relationship challenges I was having. I’d decided I no longer need to be in relationship with certain people.

“I think it’s just COVID, Mama,” she said. “The pandemic taught me that I don’t have to be running around doing all these things for people.” Then, she added, “You know … it’s important to know which relationships are low-maintenance and which are high-maintenance.”

I’m not stopped in my tracks very often during a conversation, but that last part quieted me. I had to think about it for a second, and I told her as much. What does that even mean? Why does it matter?

Here’s what I’ve come up with.

What Does It Mean?

High-maintenance relationships feel tiring. I described one before when writing about my former best friend. She seemed needy and relied heavily on me as her “therapist.” She always had an issue requiring my counsel, but even after a great convo, for some reason, the issue was never resolved.

I’ve had other relationships that are accompanied with thick books for engagement of how to show up. These books included pages of rules not always aligned with my personality: Show up like this. Call on this day. Make me a priority all … the … time.

I’m sure I’ve been high maintenance to others. The tone of the text, the gloss in their eyes, or the exasperation in their voice proves it. Each says: What is it now? What more can I do? I followed the guidelines, but now there’s more. I recognize it because I’ve been that way with others. Like, dang … Haven’t I shown up enough for you?

Low-maintenance relationships, on the other hand, are synchronistic. Rules for engagement are intuited and easy. For me, this looks like reciprocity. Sometimes you pay for the lunch date, and sometimes I pay. Sometimes you suggest an activity for us to do, and sometimes I do. We equally hold space for the other person to vent. But we’re not venting all day. Most of the time, we’re having fun, laughing, talking, and sharing in life. Many of my friendships are like this. My relationship with one of my sisters is like this. It’s easygoing; there is little tension.

Why Does It Matter?

Step into this analogy with me.

A few years ago, I wanted a red, Mercedes-Benz GLK. I contemplated doing all I could to get one, until I spoke with my car-aficionado husband. Not only was general upkeep expensive, like always buying premium gas, but he also told me the car wasn’t reliable. If something broke down, then I’d be paying an astronomical amount for repairs. It was a high-maintenance vehicle I couldn’t afford.

Relationships can be similar.

High-maintenance relationships are expensive. You pay with your time. You pay with your energy. Occasionally, you actually pay with money. But I’m here to affirm this for you. If you don’t have the bandwidth, it’s okay not to have them. Your reason, whatever it is, is valid. Just like that Benz wasn’t the best for my situation at the time; sometimes, some relationships aren’t either. And that’s okay.


Post-script: There is no such thing as a no-maintenance relationship. All cars, no matter their cost or age, require gas and an oil change (or electricity and new tires) 😉


102 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Low-Maintenance vs High-Maintenance Relationships

  1. I completely agree with you. In high maintenance relationships you most definitely pay with with your time and energy. More often than not though, the other person in the relationship doesn’t realise that they’re draining you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Get out of my head 😩 I have been going through a lot of questioning when it comes to the people I am surrounded by and let me tell you…those high maintenance ones give you a run for your time and money.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s pretty true . I’ve definitely had a mix of high and low maintenance, and yeah covid for sure has made engaging with my different friends odd . Since it’s mostly all through texting or messaging , I get to see who’s who.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I also like low maintenance relationship because I thought relationship are that which is not always say us about just necessities also it can build with love, care and trust. When I read your bolg that time in my mind the famous quote is coming that When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.. .. Stay happy

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “High-maintenance relationships are expensive. You pay with your time. You pay with your energy.” – you just perfectly described my relationship with my sister right now. And we used to be fairly low-maintenaince… Energy-drainers I call them. This post is eye-opening. I will be making some changes in my life very soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m sorry to hear Samantha. Someone else mentioned how what you’ve described (low to high) can happen, and that’s extremely tough because you know it could NOT be that way. Maybe have a convo with her first?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I believe everything comes and goes in waves. People generally don’t stay the same. We’ll see. As for now, I’ll just… stay superficial with her and avoid her when possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. I just follow my heart for it has all the answers, rarely go wrong… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I have gotten to the point where I don’t have many high-maintenance friendships anymore, because I just don’t have the time and energy for them. That’s not to say I’m a “fair weather friend,” because when a friend needs my support, I do my very best to be there. And all relationships are high maintenance now and then, I think. But I can’t really handle the relationships that are ALWAYS high maintenance anymore, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Vey well said. But sometimes it becomes really hard to distinguish them, and then end up being caught in wrong decisions.
    Because sometimes the relation that seems quite low maintenance suddenly becomes way more expensive than others.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. well said — often it comes down to whether I’m getting back anything valuable enough to merit all my dancing around… & if I’m not, is it only a temporary thing?…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Good points da-AL. I think it’s also important to distinguish if the person’s “high-maintenance” is temporary. Because if it’s out of character, well that’s okay. And YES to the first part. I learned a term right here on the blog called one-way transactional relationships. Most of us don’t like this at all.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This is an intriguing post, Kathy. I have never quite looked at relationships nor friendships as high or low maintenance before. Now as I think back, I noticed I had a lot of the high maintenance ones in my life I had to rid myself of. Thanks for sharing this. ❤

    Liked by 7 people

    1. It is an interesting concept, right? I really never thought about those categories, either, but it’s funny…it seems we all know them when we hear about them lol They’re not quite bad enough to be toxic, but they can feel draining.

      I’m glad you’ve rid yourself of them!

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Once again, so. on. point! Your words are just what I needed to read.

    Thank you for the affirmation of how important it is to revisit what we need, in both relationships, and in life, daily! Saving your energy for what truly counts: your health, your marriage, your writing, this moment. You get to decide, how to live your life.

    You only get one after all. Let your soul decide ❤

    Liked by 7 people

  12. I told my husband that I would like a Jeep Wrangler but he says it costs too much and then there is no space to park it. Yet some time ago he wanted a camperized off-road vehicle and I said ok, let’s take it. Well, I’m disappointed, I admit. Her mother always gets what she wants and instead I always have to be satisfied. Some time ago I had an autistic friend, an adult, and this was very demanding, both because I usually deal with autistic children, for my work, and not adults, but above all because he is a genius and I did not know how make it known to everyone. We made music with other kids, and he is a brilliant composer but he was reluctant to participate in music competitions. It was difficult to get him to know the associations, to take him to the psychologists for his Adhd, and always me alone to do all this, because his parents didn’t give a damn about him. It was tiring for me internally because we were together for 4 years. 😟

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I’m not into telling people what they can and cannot purchase, but I do hope you know that if you have a job, then you should get what you can afford…maybe a used one?

      The part about caring about a child, whose parents don’t seem to care for sounds beyond challenging. I’m glad that’s over for you, but yeah…this is a high-maintenance relationship that sometimes people try to make us believe we HAVE to take on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Even a used one is very expensive for us now. I’m not working like before because of this covid. I only do counseling for parents for now because I can’t be in attendance with their children. I can’t get the vaccine because I have serious illnesses and the risk of dying is too high. So I can only use smart working but I don’t like it at all.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. I think I have exhausted myself inside out with absolutely fragile high maintenance relationships …I never knew the difference because of growing up in a family full of drama and trauma. I am now absolutely done, have no energy intention inclination for any of those – sadly having to let go off most of my birth family. I am now busy unraveling who I am as myself. As always I love your post, helps me word my truths to myself more clearly.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. I like that perspective. It gets me to think about my relationships and if I’m high-maintenance. I like the car reference. Maybe you could just rent one for the weekend or something.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. LOL I never thought about renting one for the weekend, but that’s a good idea, in general if you want something you can’t afford.

      Maybe your friends would tell you if you were high maintenance?

      Liked by 2 people

  15. This can be a tough one especially with one’s weaker family members….like my mother. Her mobility to move quicker is not there and she no longer sews…which is not good. She worries too much about her adult children.

    Liked by 6 people

  16. Amen . . .

    “High-maintenance relationships are expensive. You pay with your time. You pay with your energy. Occasionally, you actually pay with money. But I’m here to affirm this for you. If you don’t have the bandwidth, it’s okay not to have them.”

    I cannot afford to have them; physically, mentally, or monetarily. Lol.

    Liked by 9 people

  17. Covid brings a whole new set of challenges, I find. Many of my friends are double vaccinated and it’s been a joy to be able to get together, but a close friend sides with the conspiracies and refuses to get vaccinated. I dread conversations with her, and find myself avoiding meeting up. Finally, I just told her that I need to protect my health and the health of my family. We’ve made the decision to do so. So we will talk on the phone only. Why is this all so hard?

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I think, with the COVID vax situation, politicians have made it hard for no reason at all. But I also think some people really have other reasons for not getting the vaccination, and it’s hard for friends and family to accept those reasons and make a decision (about physical interaction) from that point.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I have no problem if it’s a legitimate reason. This case is that she has been swallowed up by Qanon and Trump – I feel like she is out of reach in so many ways. Unfortunately, those who don’t take the virus seriously become a danger.

        Liked by 3 people

  18. Yesss!!! I learned along time ago that some friendships are actually ministry. They’re in my life for a reason. Maybe God wants me to pour into them. I just have to make sure I get replenished, have boundaries, and don’t allow myself to be emptied! Relationships are for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I have to use my discernment to know which is which.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Peggy, thank you for reading and commenting. Your response reminds me of a quote I posted: “Relationships are spiritual work.”

      So, I definitely agree with that. I also think what you’ve said about being replenished, having boundaries, and filling yourself up is EXTREMELY important! Thanks for sharing here.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Yes relationships can be classified as low and high maintenance. The one which always demand too much and the other one in which there is easy exchange with no or little accompanied stress.
    And off course a no maintenance relationship does not exist.
    Stay blessed always.
    🙏🌹🙏

    Liked by 7 people

  20. Very interesting post, Katherin. It got me to thinking and I realized that I don’t have any high maintenance relationships anymore. I’m relieved about that.
    But what I also find interesting, is that so many of my friendships are of such low maintenance – that it’s easy for me to just let them languish. With the pandemic, a passive attitude, and low energy – I just haven’t made much effort to connect with many of my friends. I have a few special ones, thankfully, and the fact that they are so easy to catch up with makes all the difference.

    Liked by 8 people

  21. Low maintenance vs high maintenance, your daughter is on to something. I’ve had that issue for months now trying to decide who I should step away from. This concept will help me make wise decisions. Tell her thanks☺️.

    Liked by 9 people

      1. Guitarists? 😀 Diva’s behind 6 strings. As far as regular people are concerned, I feel that friendships ought not to have constant maintenance. That’s why real besties are so precious. They’re free flowing and anxiety free.

        Liked by 5 people

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