Truly fulfilling relationships are not about wanting to change someone or about finding someone who is perfect and without flaws, we all have them. It’s about having the courage to be yourself allowing yourself to be seen and having your partner or your friend accept you for who you truly are. If we want to build deep connections with another person we need to be vulnerable and let them see the real us. Discovering our true selves can be a lifelong journey that requires continuous effort and introspection.
In all relationships, we will make mistakes and can even end up possibly hurting the other person. Our partner or friend is not supposed to meet all of our needs, that’s up to us to do so. Having the courage to recognize the times when we need support from someone else whether that be a friend or professional is important. It takes courage to reach out especially for those in an abusive relationship, but doing so could help to make better connections and healthier decisions.
Conflict is normal in any relationship, but if we communicate honestly and find ways to work through the challenges, building trust in one another, a healthy relationship can be the end result. One way we can do this is by letting our partner or friend know when we need a break and by not giving them the silent treatment or in other words as Gottman calls it stonewalling, which can be emotionally abusive. If you are looking to improve any relationship Gottman has great tips.
Emotional connections are important, however, if we are always looking at the needs of someone else and not paying attention to our own, or if we fall into unhealthy relationship patterns we need to look deeper into the why and make some changes.
In healthy relationships each partner is looking out for the other, recognizing that they need to make compromises and that life can sometimes get messy. It isn’t about a long life together that is miserable, it’s about a life together that has way more ups than downs. A life where you can say I love and care deeply about that other human being be it a friend or lover.
There may come a time when you ask yourself do I need to end this relationship? While not easy, it may be necessary. I love this thread by Dr. Nicola Pera on when to end a relationship. It is thoughtful and wise.
Deciding to end a relationship can be a difficult and complex process. Here are some questions to consider:
- How do you feel when you’re around this person? Do you feel energized and happy or drained and unhappy?
- Do you trust this person? Do you believe what they say or do you feel like they’re hiding something from you?
- Is this a one-sided relationship?
- Is your partner/friend unable or unwilling to change and meet your needs?
- Does your partner/friend consistently break promises or fail to live up to their commitments?
- Are you staying in the relationship because you’re afraid of being alone or because you genuinely want to be with this person?
- Are my interactions with this person way more positive than negative?
- Are you compromising your values or sacrificing your happiness for the sake of the relationship?
- Are you constantly questioning whether this is a healthy relationship?
- Do you like who you are in this relationship?
Ultimately, the decision to end a relationship is a personal one. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Considering these questions could possibly help you gain clarity and insight into whether ending the relationship is the right choice for you.
Letting go is never easy, and at times we all have to make the choice that is right for us. There have also been times when I have been open to new friendships along this journey of life. Friends who make me a better human being. Friends who make my world a better place by being in it. You know who you are. I am so grateful I remained open.
Healthy relationships are about mutual respect, trust, setting boundaries, love, acceptance and support. When we create foundations of trust and love that weather all the storms, relationships can be amazing.
I am grateful for all the incredible long-lasting relationships that have graced my life making me a better person along the way. I look forward to continuing to nurture and cultivate these connections for years to come. Mastering the connection, and having relationships that last a lifetime is not always easy, but it is worth all the time and effort that make it possible.