What Makes A Relationship “Good”? Take a moment to think about that question and what that means to you. Which relationship automatically came to mind first? Was it the one with your significant other or a best friend? Maybe, the first person that you thought of was a sibling or your relationship with your parents. Or perhaps you have developed some good relationships at work and are thinking about how nice it is to be able to go to there every day and really enjoy working with your colleagues.
You might say that all of those relationships, while not perfect, provide you with something– that certain something that is not only important to you, but that also makes you feel good about yourself and which you enjoy giving back without a second thought. Perhaps that certain something is mutual respect, trust or communication. This may be a relationship where although the balance of power may not be equal, the relationship is open to flexibility, allowing you to feel valued and heard.
Some relationships are seemingly effortless, while others require a dedicated commitment to reach a level of understanding, acceptance and compromise in order to make them work. However, when relationship dynamics are built on principles that are mainly favorable for one side and not so much for the other, the relationship can become a source of stress and anxiety that is sustained by feelings of guilt or obligation. The problems that arise from unhealthy relationships are not just uncomfortable, they can deeply impact people on a physical and emotional level.
If you take a moment now again to think about those relationships in your life that have gone wrong, or are on their way there, what is it about those relationships that does not work?
When you think about speaking with those people, do you find yourself feeling anxious or wanting to avoid the interaction if at all possible? Chances are that the boundaries are either blurred, non-existent or on the opposite end of the spectrum, the boundaries are so rigid that you just cannot see yourself confiding in that person.
When relationships go south, there is usually not one reason for it but rather, a number of smaller and sometimes subtle reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. If you are in a relationship where the changes have been slow to occur or subtle, it might be even more difficult to address the issues because they might not be so obvious.
What IS obvious, however, is that you no longer feel that same level of satisfaction that you used to get from it. You may have begun to lose trust in that person and the communication is breaking down. Maybe you feel that some healthy boundaries would be helpful, but you cannot imagine how to do that without provoking conflict. All those things that made that relationship “good” are slowly- or quickly- slipping through like sands in an hour glass, and your efforts, or don’t seem to give you the result that you want.
Stress from on-going relationship issues can be compounded by other factors like a chronic illness, financial worries, cultural differences or having very different styles of communicating. Physically, the on-going chronic stress can impact your body’s immune system and make you more vulnerable to illness. Emotionally and psychologically, the impact can reek havoc on your self-esteem and provoke feelings of anxiety or depression. In trying to do your best to cope, you may find yourself trying to avoid certain situations by self-medicating with alcohol or other substances in order to deal with your pain and frustration. Therapy can help you to better understand and manage your relationships by helping you to:
- Gain insight about how certain behaviors and attitudes that you may have learned are negatively affecting your interactions with others and vice versa
- Learn skills that can help you to look at situations with a different perspective so that you can decide how to address the issues in non-conflictual and confidence-boosting ways
- By using specific situations that pertain to you, we will work towards increasing your emotional intelligence so that you can learn how to understand emotional cues from others and be able to respond in a way that feels right and is helpful
- Learn how to set healthy boundaries without creating conflict
- Increase your self-confidence and self-esteem by providing you with tools that will help you to learn how to make better and healthier decisions