Yes, there is, and I should have seen it sooner, more than likely I didn’t see it because of the shorthand array syntax which I don’t use. The meta query needs to be a nested array
'meta_query' => [[ 'key' => 'the_related', 'value' => '"' . get_the_ID() . '"', 'compare' => 'LIKE', ]]
or the way I would write it`
‘meta_query’ => array(
‘key’ => ‘the_related’,
‘value’ => ‘”‘ . get_the_ID() . ‘”‘,
‘compare’ => ‘LIKE’,
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