And 2 things to avoid.
I’m a recovering approval addict. I’m also an empath, so I feel the emotions of others strongly. This combination makes relationships challenging. I often ignore my wants and needs and set myself up for resentment by bending over backward to please the other person. This is not the way to have healthy relationships.
Don’t do these 2 things
I realized that many of my past relationships have been one-sided. Most fell into one of two categories.
In many previous relationships, I became the other person’s caretaker. They lived from one crisis to the next. It was exhausting. It wasn’t a friendship—it was a project. These people were never okay, and they never invested in me. It was all about them.
This is the flip side of number one. When a needy relationship sucks you dry, you need a refill. You become vulnerable to forming a relationship with a caretaker of your own. You may not even realize it’s happening. You will never forge a healthy relationship under these circumstances.
Relationships based on crises are never healthy.
I have been putting a lot of effort into making new, healthy friendships. Hard to do during a global pandemic.
I called a friend a few weeks ago, upset and needing to talk. I was trying to be mindful of her personal needs and space. The last thing I want to do is overwhelm and push away a good friend. She said perhaps the healthiest thing I have ever heard in any relationship.
“I would tell you if I could not handle being there for you right now.”
Her statement stunned me because the empath in me knew she meant it. She would tell me how she was feeling! I wouldn’t have to guess!
That’s when I realized how incredibly harmful many of my previous relationships have been. I had grown comfortable with dysfunction. But personal healing and growth are so wonderful! I have a new reality now!
Do these 3 things
I am so grateful to be forming healthy relationships. It is a gift to have a friend who will be honest with you. Here are the three things healthy relationships have in common.
Rule number one is open communication. Be honest with one another. If there is a problem—talk about it! Neither of you is a mind reader. This sounds obvious, but it’s not! I recently lost an important relationship. I do not understand why, and the other person refuses to talk to me. They just walked away angry. There is no way to salvage a relationship without honest communication.
The second principle of healthy relationships is boundaries. It’s okay to say “no.” Most of us are afraid we will lose a friendship if we don’t always say yes, but clear boundaries make you more attractive. I would rather know that a person’s “yes” is genuine and not from a place of obligation. Healthy boundaries attract healthy people into your life and prevent resentment.
Finally, respect one another with mutual support. Sure, there will be times when one person will need more care than the other. But by maintaining mutual give and take, you will avoid sliding into roles of caretaker and victim. Take my word for it—that never ends well. The inequity will cause resentment on both sides. You want a relationship of equals.
The way to build healthy relationships is by focusing on mutual give and take.
I am thrilled to have healthier people in my life now! I still mourn the people who have left, but it is ultimately for the best. Sometimes growth is painful.
With a little care, you can have healthy relationships. You can break old destructive patterns and forge ahead with confidence by following these three tips. It may not be easy, but it is worth breaking old, dysfunctional patterns.