Social media, for as much as it gets dragged through the mud, is amazing! Yes, it easily eats up an absurd amount of time, but the ability to reconnect with old friends and network with new ones is unparalleled.

Yesterday, as part of my college essay writing process, I wound up talking extensively with my parents—particularly about growing up and my Elementary school years.

Prompted by this discussion, I devoted half an hour to finding my Elementary school friends, primarily through social media.

I quickly began looking for a classmate whose name was rather unique. Due to the abnormality of her name, I found her quickly. From there, the process was much easier—I just had to search for classmates who also followed her.

In less time than expected, I’d found about half of my elementary school classmates. Rather than just exchange follows, however, I chose to reach out.

One such friend and I hadn’t spoken since 5th grade. Our relationship was in good shape, but we never kept in touch—primarily because I moved halfway across the country. Upon reaching out, however, we quickly returned to friendship. Last night we texted for two hours and we’ve scheduled a call for later this week.

As someone who has repeatedly bounced from one social group to another, this is a pattern I’ve encountered time and time again. No matter how long it’s been, friends quickly return to friendship when they reconnect.

This concept is explored in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He calls it the relationship bank account, and it applies to all of us.

Just like a real bank account, the relationship bank account (RBA) has a balance. You can make withdrawals or deposits, which affect the balance. And, even if you don’t touch the account for several years, the balance remains approximately the same.

When my friend and I reconnected yesterday, our RBA had a positive balance. We both had fond memories of our years in Elementary school and we’d had many positive interactions—deposits—over those years. So, when we reconnected, we immediately returned to positive interaction, despite making zero deposits or withdrawals since 2014.

As exciting as the RBA is when reconnecting with old friends, it has a flipside too. If you’ve ever seen someone hold a grudge—or held one yourself—then you know what I’m talking about. A relationship with a negative RBA balance can be difficult to repair, no matter how much time you allow to pass.

The truth is, the way we treat our relationships is the way we’re treated in return. It’s easy to ostracize people, especially through the cliquishness of middle and high school. The cost of doing so, however, is great.

Everything you do now affects your RBA. If you treat others poorly, it will come back to bite you in the future. Intentionally make deposits, whether through shared experiences, meaningful conversations, or a simple smile. What you do today always affects tomorrow.

What’s a relationship you’re going to make a positive deposit in today? Let me know in the comments below!

(It’s also worth noting the link to Stephen Covey’s book is an affiliate link. If you purchase the book through the link, I’ll get a small kickback, which helps me run Smart Start University. Whether you purchase it or simply get it from the library, however, it’s one I strongly recommend—especially if you’re new to self-development.)