Our lives are filled with relationships, and every so often, it is important to reevaluate which relationships in your life are positive and bringing you what you want, and which may not be and need to be changed and/or ended.

Relationships, often, help to define who we are and have a great deal of influence and impact on our lives. We are free to choose the kinds of relationships we want, however, which is not easy to do, as it may mean ending toxic relationships with family, friends or significant others.

Relationships do ebb and flow, and go through many changes. Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between a “normal” shift and a bigger problem. If the belief is that the relationship at it’s most basic level is a good one, talk to the other person involved and try to work on the problem. This isn’t always the case, as we know.

The media portrays this time of year as one in which we are supposed to be full of love toward one another. Unfortunately, sometimes, this is not really how it is, and we compare our lives with those in the media and around us and may find that we are not satisfied with how things are.

This, of course is exacerbated by the fact that we may have just spent a lot of concentrated time with our families during the holiday and come to realize that our values are very different and that we don’t really enjoy their company. We may choose to start to distance ourselves from them as a result of the differences that we observed.

With family, this is incredibly difficult, of course because we feel obligated to be connected to them (and are obligated on some level). The truth is, you can choose how much time you spend with your family, the same way you would choose to spend time with your friends. When obligation becomes the deciding factor, it’s definitely time to re-evaluate the relationship, what your needs are and how you want to handle it. With family, others may offer their opinions more than you’d like, and you have to put yourself first, take a deep breath and stand your ground.

Other relationships get tossed into the assessment pile now too, especially romantic ones. The holidays hold a lot of pressure for there to be defining moments in a relationship: maybe you’ve been together for a year or so and expect an engagement and it doesn’t’ come, and this leads you to question what you want to have happen in the upcoming year. The disappointment could lead to bigger questions, and ultimately a break up.

And lastly, friendships are part of the assessment too. Friends can disappoint as much as anyone, and it’s this time of year that we may notice it more. Maybe they didn’t live up to the expectations this year, or weren’t “there for you” when the family drama was happening. Sometimes, it’s just a big misunderstanding, but other times, it is because your friends cannot get out of the way enough to make you the important one. Take a step back and look at it objectively before acting, but definitely check in with yourself to see if this is a friendship you want to take into the New Year.

As we head into the new year, and begin to look back on the year that was and ahead to what’s coming, it’s the perfect time to examine the relationships in our lives and determine if they need to change and how.

It’s important to put your own well-being as a priority and to determine if the other person in the relationship adds to your happiness or detracts from it. Below are 5 tips to consider when thinking about ending a relationship.

1) You’re always frustrated and feeling misunderstood, unheard and as though your needs are not being met. (INCREASED FRUSTRATION)

2) You avoid spending time together (AVOIDANCE)

3) You’ve changed your ambitions, sacrificed your beliefs in the hope of making the OTHER person happy, and it still isn’t enough (SACRIFICE: we all do this to some extent when in relationships, it’s part of the give and take, but this is to an extreme).

4) You don’t believe anything one another says and put each other down or don’t feel each one of you is important anymore (DISTRUSTFUL AND DISRESPECT)

5)You feel as though no matter what you do, and what you give of yourself, it is never enough (UNDERAPPRECIATED)

1) Take a step back and really look at the relationship. Make a list of the positive traits and the negative traits. Make a concrete list and weigh out the sides (kind of like a pros and cons of the relationship)

2) Self reflect: what negative things are you bringing to the relationship as well? It may not fix the relationship, and it may help you find the right kind of relationships in the future. This also helps YOU be the decision maker, not everyone else in your life who is bound to have an opinion.

3) Be honest without blame: If you decide to end the relationship, do so with compassion and not with blame. It’s not going to get you anywhere to scream and yell about what a jerk the other person is (although you might feel better). It’s better (and more productive) to let the other person know that you are choosing to make some changes and that the relationship isn’t what you want it to be. Maybe it can change? Be open to discussion.

4) Be willing to give to get: Maybe this is the first time you ever discussed your frustrations with your friend or loved one and he/she is willing to be open and talk about how to change. Be willing to listen, and possibly try to maintain the relationship. Of course, if any of the warning signs pop up, it’s time to take care of yourself and walk away.

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Dr. Jen


Dr. Jen (4 Posts)