There are lots of things that destroy relationships. Anger. The battle for control. Unmet expectations. But there are few things as dangerous as complacency.
It may very well be that complacency is the first manifestation of all of the relationship killers. A passive lack of purpose and intention is a wedge that separates all sorts of relationships. Why do we give in to apathy and what is so dangerous about it?
A Lion in the Grass
The reason complacency is so dangerous is because it is subtle. We are much more afraid of conflict within a relationship than we are of complacency. For this reason, passive aggressiveness rather than honest anger is our preferred method of communication. Fears with fangs are much easier to be frightened of. But wouldn’t you rather face a lion head on than have him creeping behind your shoulder?
Complacency is easier than tension. We squirm and wiggle, battle and flee in order to rid ourselves of the discomfort of tension. But suffering can be good. On the other hand, complacency never works to our advantage. It slowly kills. Inch by inch. It whispers its hatred. Chipping away at you and your relationship. It lulls us into a slumber that cripples and overwhelms us.
A True Opposite
When we think of the opposite of good, most of us would say ‘bad’. But the better opposite of good is actually complacency. Just like the opposite of knowledge isn’t falsity but ignorance. Apathy is not just evil, but an unacknowledged evil. An evil unnamed is well hidden and likely to fester and grow.
In our attempts to avoid negativity, we have avoided positivity as well. We let ourselves fall asleep at the wheel because we don’t like the sound of alarms. Complacency destroys relationships because it takes us out of the game. Out of the arena.
Most conventional sin happens when we are aiming at goodness and fail, believing some short cut or lie will get us to a place we deeply want to go. Complacency is when just forget about the journey altogether. It is a deeper well.
We are a patterned people. Humanity is full of habits. We try to nestle into something comfortable and make a home there. We’ll adopt lies, avoid truth, and bury our head in the sand if it means a little peace and quiet. We don’t want to be bothered, exposed, or available. And the more we do it, the more deeply ingrained the pattern becomes, making it more and more difficult to change.
Because of all of this, self-awareness, honesty, and communication are vitally important. They are imperative because they keep us engaged. They keep us interacting with our own perspective and with the perspective of the people we are in relationship with.
The solution is simple. Stop hiding. Do not be so afraid of the tension. Refuse to sit on the sidelines of your own relationship.
Engagement comes from intentional conversation and commitment to action. If you don’t want to drift or fall asleep within a relationship, take some ownership of your part of the relationship, even when it is hard. If you’ve already succumbed to the silent assassin of complacency, the only way out is through intentional living.