You may have heard the saying: “People are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” What’s that all about and why do some relationships work and others don’t? Let’s talk about it…
Relationships are largely about needs. There’s a give and take where each person has their own set of needs and those needs are either met… or not. No matter the nature of the relationship, you’re in it because you’re getting something out of it whether that’s love, friendship, companionship, support, etc.
Unfortunately, that holds true for both healthy and toxic relationships.
Sometimes, toxic relationships are serving a person’s needs too, possibly the need to feel in control, the need to feel secure or the need to justify a certain feeling that’s keeping them safe, stuck and small.
So, how do we promote the growth of healthy relationships and create a distance or remove the unhealthy ones in our lives? The first step is awareness because you can’t change what you’re not aware of. It starts with doing some soul searching to look at your relationships and see what needs they’re fulfilling for you. Do the relationships lift you up? Are they encouraging, invigorating, or enjoyable? Do they provide opportunities for mental, emotional and/or spiritual growth? If they don’t, then it’s important to examine why you’re spending time and energy on keeping them going.
Now let’s face it; relationships are fluid and there’s a give and take. A toxic relationship is not necessarily one where you might be doing more of the giving or taking at a particular moment- you may be getting tremendous joy and fulfillment in the giving, or you may be the one in great need during a certain time in your life. As long as the exchange is filling both parties in the way that they both want and need, the relationship can work well for all involved. In fact, often during those times where the relationship is completely unbalanced you can see a side of yourself or the other person you didn’t know existed, a side that shows you qualities in yourself you hadn’t seen in a while, or the shift in roles that was needed in order to take a relationship to another level. On the other hand, if the exchange continually leaves you feeling empty, unsatisfied, hurt, upset, or angry, it may be time to reevaluate that relationship or at least change the rules and boundaries.
Toxic relationships are probably one of the biggest drains to our energy. So, why do we maintain them? It could be something as simple as it being a habit. The relationship may have deteriorated so long ago that you barely recognize the dysfunction any more, or perhaps you’re even afraid to acknowledge it because then you’d have to do something about it.
Taking time to evaluate, or re-evaluate, your relationships is a healthy thing to do.
Maybe you need something more or different from the person or perhaps they do from you? Another great way to identify a toxic relationship is to examine your feelings when you’re around the other person; is it constantly painful? Do you leave them feeling unloved, unappreciated, disrespected and disregarded?
There’s nothing wrong with realizing that the rules of a relationship need to be changed or if you’ve done all you can and that relationship is no longer working for you. It’s possible that if it’s not working for you, it’s probably not working for the other person either. From here you have some choices. You can work on improving the relationship based on where you both are and where you want to go; renegotiating the rules based on each other’s growth, new direction, and personal paths. Negotiation takes cooperation, willingness and energy however so both of you need to be on board. Walking away from a toxic relationship is sometimes a healthy option too, especially if the affects of the negative relationship are impacting your health, self esteem, wellbeing and happiness. Detaching from an unhealthy relationship with honor and respect could be a loving act for both you and the other person. If so, setting boundaries which create distance that gradually grows is just one way of gently letting go.
Only you know what’s best here so take your time with these decisions and get support if you need it.
People come into our lives for reason, season, or a lifetime. It is most definitely okay to change the rules of an existing relationship that is ready to grow or release a relationship that no longer serves you. If a parting of ways is in order, honor what you were able to receive from your time together, send blessings and best wishes, and make room for the opportunities the Universe will send your way to make new, rewarding and fulfilling relationships. If the relationship simply needs to grow, rewrite the rules and watch the 2.0 version of your relationship begin to blossom.
Have you had a relationship completely change course because you changed the rules? Have you gently parted ways and it made you great friends? Any other interesting relationship changes you’d like to share?
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