“You first” is a phrase that we use often as a common courtesy. When you open the door for someone or pass a platter of food around a table. It is a great way to show that you have manners.
But does this always work as an approach to life? As in most things, the answer is no. It doesn’t. While the phrase “you first” is great in superficial situations, as a way to behave with common courtesy, it is utterly destructive when trying to develop deep relationships.
Think about it. “You first” apologize. “You first” forgive. “You first” give me a present. “You first” ask me out. “You first” call me. “You first” invite me. “You first” pick me up. “You first” help me. I am sure there are many more.
When “you first” is used this way (as essentially a command), it becomes conditional. When you add the words “before I” you begin to see how. I won’t do something until you do something. And if you don’t do something then I won’t do something. Opening the door for someone doesn’t carry with it the obligation of implied reciprocity for the act to be complete.
Deep relationships can only occur when you try to give more than you receive without expectation. To create deep relationships you first must engage, act, and participate without expectation of the response. The concept of “before I” destroys any chance you have for a deep connection with another person.
So many people want others to act a certain way when they have no control of them. That’s absurd. For it never happens to the degree we want or expect. What’s even more absurd, is that someone would be willing to change their behavior from what they believe to what someone else does by insisting on “you first” and then “before I”.
Don’t fall into the trap of “you first” when you really seek deep human connection. Being who you are aligned with what you believe is much more powerful and fulfilling than waiting for others to decide who you will express yourself to be based on their actions.