Are you using a flash-fryer or a crockpot to connect with people? If you don’t know the difference, you might have difficulty enjoying the meals—and the kinds of relationships—you really want in your life. Let’s be clear. French fries and pot roasts are both delicious, but they are not the same.

If you say you are looking for pot roast style connections in your life, but you keep driving through McDonald’s to order fries, you might find yourself eating an extra helping of frustration. This is not rocket science. If you throw all the pieces of your meal in a large frying pan with a quart of oil and cook it on high for ten minutes, do not expect to sit down to the equivalent of a savory pot roast at the end. In most areas of life, the richness of flavor emerges over time.

In our culture the golden arches get more visibility than the crockpots. Turn on the television near any major holiday, and you’ll see advertisements for match.com, eharmony.com, howaboutwe.com nearly as often as the ads for McDonald’s and Burger King. Yet when was the last time you saw a commercial for a crockpot?
In the business world too, marketing language is designed to drive you to make money overnight, triple your client base in ninety days, or get paid to speak by next week. Deep fryers at a deep discount. People buy because people want results, and we want them fast. There is nothing wrong with this, per se. The challenge is what we do when we find that the French fries in life aren’t actually what we want. They taste good, but they still don’t fill us up. What do we do when we decide we actually do want the good stuff and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it?

Dust off the crockpot, friends, and remember everything you know about how you formed the deep, meaningful relationships that are already in your life. I met one of my dearest friends in a required college astronomy class. We exchanged little comments and jokes for weeks before we connected for a cup of tea and conversation. Even when we did start chatting as friends, we continued living our lives with other friends for months before we started hanging out more regularly. Our friendship began slowly, first by getting to know each other and then by discovering alignment over time. From this foundation, we created over twenty years of a friendship that we still enjoy.

Creating meaningful, lasting relationships is much like making crockpot meals. Spend time in your favorite grocery stores that stock the best ingredients. Select ingredients with time and thoughtfulness. Choose meat that does best when cooked over time. Include root vegetables. They are strong, grow in the dirt, and can withstand high temperatures. Add all the ingredients together before you turn on the heat. Do these things not to satiate an immediate hunger or need, but because you want to create something rich and flavorful. Go do something else while the relationship cooks. Don’t watch the pot.

In the end, the results are worth the wait. Crockpot meals are delicious. They also require little cleanup, which leaves you with more time to enjoy your company and a good dessert.