Relationships have many forms and are an important part of our lives. Relationships can have significant impact on our quality of life. Healthy relationships can enrich our lives and create endless enjoyment. However, unhealthy relationships can cause us discomfort, and sometimes even cause harm. It is important for us to learn to manage our relationships and recognise the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. When we talk about relationships, we are also talking about our friendships, what they bring or do not bring to our lives.
Healthy relationships require work and need to be maintained. There are a number of characteristics essential to a healthy relationship:
This applies to all relationships; work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships. While in a healthy relationship you:
Every relationship will have stressors but it is important to prevent prolonged stress on either member of the relationship. Unhealthy relationships will experience these stressors more frequently and they will become difficult to avoid. This tension is unhealthy for both members of the relationship and may lead to problems in other areas of your life.
While in an unhealthy relationship you mimght:
Emotional dependency is the state or fact of being dependent on someone for emotional support and validation. When we consistently count on others for happiness, reassurance or comfort we can forget to appreciate our own capabilities and take responsibility for our feelings. It is important to maintain your individuality when you are in a relationship. Having interests which are not shared by your partner gives you a space to be yourself, have your own group of friends, and allow you to be true to yourself. Being able to spend time without your partner is a healthy part of a stable relationship and maintaining your sense of self.
Even if you knew your relationship was in trouble, an actual break-up can be a shock. Feeling rejected, hurt and angry are common elements in a break-up. There is no quick fix solution, however there are things you can do to ease these feelings.
Not all relationships are romantic. We have relationships with lots of people in our lives- some positive, some potentially toxic. Toxic friendships look different to everyone but at the core is a feeling of unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Often toxic friendships are accompanied by peer pressure. Peer pressure can be direct (when someone tells you what you should/should not be doing), indirect (what one sees and hears others doing), and individual (feeling of being different/wanting to fit in). This pressure can turn a relationship toxic before we know it.
Recognising a toxic friendship
Ending a toxic friendship
Being an individual means making decisions based on what’s best for us. However you do it, it isn’t easy getting rid of toxic friends. Because each friendship is different, ending a friendship will be different for everyone.
Remember that ending friendships, even toxic ones, can be tough. Set up a plan for things you can do when you’re feeling low, or other friends you can hang out with when you need some company.
Fading out a friendship can change the dynamics of a whole friendship group. Your friend could become aggressive or cruel towards you, and you might lose some of your mutual friends. Keep your other friends in the loop by saying something like: ‘This person and I aren’t friends anymore, but we don’t expect you to take sides.’
Information with thanks to ReachOut.ie, ReachOut Australia & Hall Health Centre, University of Washington