Human relationships are arguably the most important part of our lives. Many of them happen by accident. For example, you don’t actively choose your family. All of them need to be carefully managed. This includes giving them an annual appraisal to see if they’re still performing as they should. Here are three tips to help.

Ask yourself why this relationship matters to you

You should always be able to give a positive reason why a relationship matters to you. If you can’t, then it’s probably time to move on from it. Depending on the nature of the relationship, you may need to communicate this to the other person. If so, then remember that being respectful of their feelings does not require you to compromise your own.

On the other hand, it may be valid for you to make some practical compromises to help the other person adjust to the change. For example, if you have been supporting a partner financially, then it could be reasonable to keep doing so for a transition period.  

Just make sure that this connection stays practical and is as short-term as possible. In other words, avoid letting it become an excuse to keep a relationship going when it’s really not in your best interests to do so.

Check for any clear danger signs

For this, you may need a second opinion. In fact, you may want to get two or three opinions. It’s easy to spot the signs of physical abuse. By contrast, it can be harder to identify the signs of toxic relationships when you’re caught up in one. Issues such as trauma bonding always seem to happen to someone else – until someone else points out that they’re happening to you.

Harsh as it may sound, if other people are highlighting danger signs then, in general, you want to jump ship first and assess the situation in more detail later. Remember, you can always reconcile later if it’s appropriate. Think of it like evacuating a building during a fire. Hopefully, the building can be made safe for later but if not at least you are out of it.

Reflect on whether there are issues to be addressed

Most relationships are going to have some issues to be addressed. In general, the healthier the relationship, the more likely it is that these will be minor irritations rather than major issues. That said, it’s still important to address them rather than ignore them. Think of it as doing a little light weeding in preference to having to deal with a weed infestation.

Again, recognize your limits here. When you’re dealing with minor issues and there’s a lot of trust, just talking it through is often enough. Once issues start to run deeper, then they can take more work to resolve and more understanding while that work is in progress. You may not be capable of managing all that work yourself or providing the necessary support unaided.


Don’t try to fight this. Remember that you can only take care of others if you look after yourself first. If that means you need your own support team, then be sure to put one together.


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