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How 'Trading Up' Isn't Always The Best Way To Live And Can Hurt You

Love is always changing, but sometimes it's hard to know whether to stick it out with those we are accustomed to or move on to bigger and better things.

While there will always be good reasons to upgrade relationships, there are also huge downsides to trading up and leaving behind established friends and lovers.

Newer isn’t always better.

Consider the idea that what you have might be as good as it gets. Everyone thinks that intelligence, money and popularity will bring happiness instead of asking what actually makes them tick.

The friendships we end because they are not sophisticated enough may turn out to have been better than the new crowd we're tempted to follow.

Having friends with cash and connections gives us the illusion that we've progressed in life, but will the wining and dining lifestyle really make you happy? I've seen this time and time again: People swap their old friends for new and shiny ones.

There are parties to go to and a great time to be had, until one day they wind up missing the nights of pizza and board games, and by that point it's sometimes too late to recapture lost moments.

I spent 10 years as a busy entertainer, hanging out with people from all walks of life. I learned that being rich and well educated did not always make a person have substance, intelligence or class.

Conversely, growing up in a poor neighborhood taught me that a low income didn’t always mean criminal tendencies and a low IQ.  The rich crowd showed me that money had little to do with happiness, in addition to this Princeton University study on well-being that states that at a relativity modest point, happiness stops being related to income.

The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive. -- Coco Chanel

Trading up blindly has its drawbacks. You run the risk of exchanging genuine friendships for social status, and while some friends may be poor, they may also be loyal, trustworthy and supportive. They may not be intellectual or popular, but they might have a sense of wonder and a true zest for life.

It's important to know when you’re on to a good thing. Look deeper and know that fulfilment isn't always found where society tells you it is.

When does the search end?

In a speech to a group of newly accepted college students, C.S. Lewis speaks of the shortfalls of searching for a "newer and better" circle of  friends:

Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can really be enjoyed. You merely wanted to be 'in.' And that is a pleasure that cannot last. As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another. - The Inner Ring, C.S. Lewis

What C.S. Lewis is describing is the endless loop one can find himself in where we try on friendships like we try on clothes. The pitfalls became apparent to me years ago when I tried online dating.

I eventually found love online, but not before I went through two years of endless dates that often had about as much depth as flipping through a shopping catalogue.

People online often seemed to be mentally trading up before the date was even over. I realized that many people were hooked on the belief that the next person they meet might be even better.

Relationships happen when those involved make a solid decision to stick it out. In doing so, they give the relationship a decent chance to grow. The reason my partner and I got along was because both of us noticed the detrimental effects of this endless search pattern and set our minds toward making a choice.

My partner never gave me a reason to not like him and in return I kept giving him my time. I didn't cave to the notion the I might find better; I picked the wonderful man I already had in front of me and I've yet to regret it.

Instead of trading friends and lovers like baseball cards, love what you have and focus attention on upgrading yourself. A great place to start is to get a better idea of who you are and what makes you happy.

Live up to the responsibilities of your relationships and spend time cultivating the love you already have. People who make a choice and stick it out are often happier than those constantly looking for more.

Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary situations.

In my early 20s, I was in a pretty bad place. I’d just graduated with a performing arts degree and I was certain I was on the fast track to a life in a cardboard box. To top this off, I had huge problems with my family and most days I was left overwhelmed and emotionally wrecked.

There were people during those days that stood by me through it all and there were people who threw me on the scrap heap and never looked back.

Fast forward two years, and my life was completely different. I’d used my hardship as motivation to succeed and had my own nationwide entertainment company.

I was flying around the country hiring staff and giving other performers work. To discount other people as hopeless is a fool's game. Someone may seem down and out one day, but the next they could just as easily be doing amazingly well and vice versa.

Dig a little deeper and see that almost any issue within a relationship can be improved. Good relationships endure minor shortfalls. If your loved ones are supportive and caring, then you are luckier than you think. These characteristics alone are worth sticking around for.

The Fall Out...

Sometimes there are valid reasons for trading up, for example, no one should stay in relationships that are abusive. But to disregard friends for superficial reasons, or simply to live up to a poorly thought out ideal, will not bring you the fulfilment that you seek.

It is always important to remember that in all interactions, you are dealing with living, breathing people -- not objects.

Do not allow people to pour their time and emotions into you if your mind is set on throwing them away because they are not what you deem to be enough. Do not accept anyone’s love and kindness if you have no intention of giving the same level of vulnerability back.

Trading up might seem exciting and glamourous, but be conscious that many people will put everything they have into a relationship. One of the worst things you can ever do to another is to trade in someone's love for the promise of something better.

Originally published on Katrina Simms

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It