Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
It's Better To Reach Than Settle | 3.24.24

It's Better To Reach Than Settle | 3.24.24

Always Care The Most - The Sunday Edition
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I heard once, ages and ages ago, that every relationship, and the type of relationship didn’t even matter, had two people in it: A reacher, and a settler. I might be screwing up the actual names of these two archetypes, but essentially, according to the edict, every grouping of two people had one person who “reached” or tried to live up to the affection/acceptance/appreciation/whatever of the other, and one person who “settled,” and was confident in their inherent superiority over the other. Whether or not this superiority was spoken, whether it was even ever highlighted by any behavior doesn’t matter, this person is “settling” even when happy, in that they had never needed to do the reaching for the other person, not ever at all.

This power dynamic, this ingrained discrepancy between the two parties would always lead to an imbalance. When I was much, much younger, I was a Sociology/Criminology/Psychology major in college, I stumbled deeper into this idea, this imbalance, and found it actually had a name. For years I called it the “principle of least involvement,” but I came to find that the true sociological phenomenon is called the “principle of least interest.” Personally, I like my name better. According to the experts, the principle of least interest is:

“the idea in sociology that the person or group that has the least amount of interest in continuing a relationship has the most power over it. In the context of relationship dynamics, it suggests towards which party the balance of power tilts. The principle applies to personal, business, and other types of relationships where more than one party is involved.”

As mentioned previously, this dynamic exists in any relationship in which more than one party is involved. This can be anything, and sorry all you polyamorous beauties, you’re not exempt either. In fact, I’d wager to guess the dynamics when multiple partners is involved become even more tricky to balance out. Actually, I know this to be true, as there’s a name for it too, the “three body problem,” but that’s another essay for another day.

I digress.

Today I just wanted to talk about this intrinsic imbalance, and offer my most humble opinion on the matter. I wanted to talk about the power structure, and explain why I will always be, absolutely always, the reacher, and how I am completely ok with that.

My name is Tyler Knott Gregson, and I am a reacher. No, not a Reacher, as in the 6’5” behemoth of a man on the Amazon Prime show, but a reacher in the sense that I will always feel like, be, and behave, as the one who reaches in a romantic relationship. I do not do this because of some strange form of desperation, I do not reach because I do not feel worthy, the hallmark of many principle of least interest/involvement relationships, and I do not reach because I believe I am in some way inferior. I reach because it’s how I love, it’s the language that my heart speaks when it speaks to someone I care for. I love in wholes, and I speak that love in complete sentences with no ambiguity. I love hard, I love completely, and I fight and fight for that which I love, they who I adore. I do not know another way.

Share with someone you reach for

The way I love Lady G has always been this. I reached with the years I waited for her to join me in a life together, I reached with the promises I made that I would spread my love over not only her, but her kids as well. I reach in how I try with every ounce of my (seemingly endless, to an annoying degree if you ask her sometimes) energy, I reach in that I always want to dote on her, even when I know she’s no need for it at all. I reach not because I feel inferior to her, but because I just want her to know how superior I find her to anything else on this planet. I reach because I don’t know another way, and I don’t want her to know another way either. I call Sarah the settler in our relationship, always in jest, but in full honesty and the spirit of total disclosure, I do believe it to be true.

This does not imply that she does not often ‘reach’ for me, as of course she does, it just means that if it is true that all relationships must have an imbalance in power, if all relationships do have an inborn difference that is measurable no matter how slightly, between the pair of us, she holds all the power. She is the settler, and I am the reacher, and I would have this be no other way.

I believe in other types of relationships in my life, I am sure that I am the settler, without realizing this often, as I do believe we oscillate from one to the other depending on the who on the other end. We can be a thousand things to a thousand people, all different levels of interest, of time available to be invested in those specific connections, and I believe this is ok. When it comes to romance, however, when it comes to the intimate and enduring type in which you carve little bits of your heart for the benefit of someone else, I know I will always be the one carving first, faster, and probably taking bigger chunks. As I’ve said, I know no other way.

Unfortunately, I know may who pride themselves on being the ‘settler’ in the group. I know many that withhold affection, interest, care, and intimacy in a dozen forms, because of a panoply of reasons that seem to shift depending on the circumstance. Some withhold out of fear, some out of pride, some ego, some ignorance. Some hold the power because a trauma sent them to that place, some always assume the love they’re giving is too much, and it’s quite possible that it’s only because they’ve never actually been given enough to understand what it looks like.

I am not here to say there’s a wrong way to love, to experience it, to give it, as I’ve said above, there are so many instances that our role in a relationship might depend entirely on who the relationship is with. What I am here to say, is if the principle of least interest is indeed a sound sociological theory, if it is indeed true that in all relationships one person gets more — whether that is financial, emotional, or sexual — I would so much rather always be the person who gives more than receives. I would so much rather live my life knowing I was always the person who gave every bit of “interest” that was at my disposal. Always.

My advice, in this strange and winding essay, is to always be the one who cares the most. In no way should you let this care cloud your judgement or lock you into situations that are unhealthy or dangerous, but instead it should guide you into knowing when a situation is worth that investment, and when it is not. I think so often we hold tightly onto situations and relationships that do nothing but damage our souls, because we fear the alternative loneliness so much more. I know why we do this, I understand the depth of isolation in a way that few I know do, and I still believe with all my silly heart, that it’s better to find those worth reaching for, and then to never stop that reach.

Maybe it’s here I’ll offer my most controversial advice, maybe it’s here I’ll lose some of you and make your heads go from shaking up and down in agreement to shaking side to side in dismay, and that’s ok, it’s worth the truth I know:

Perhaps as we aim for simplification in our already too swollen and stuffed lives, as we aim to be a bit more minimalistic in our endeavors, we can also include relationships that no longer serve us in healthy, intimate, productive, and fulfilling ways. Maybe if the people we’re in a “relationship” with, no matter the type, are not those that we know with certainty are worth truly reaching for, they are not those we really need to invest ourselves into anyway. Maybe this is the barometer, maybe this is the metric.

For me, I will reach, and reach, and reach, for all those I love, for all those that made it beyond my strange hermit shield that grows around me, fueled by autism and social exhaustion and a protectiveness of my time and energy and life. I’ll be the reacher, and if that makes you the settler, know that it is ok, it is just not my way. It just won’t ever be my way.

I’ll always forget the power, I’ll always refuse to play those silly, silly games, I’ll always reach.

I will always care the most.

Forget the power,

and refuse to play the game.

Always care the most.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

Song of the Week

Wanna show me you care the most, about me?! Here’s how you can reach too!

Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.