The Review – Are Your Relationships Good for Your Health?

Heading into the new year we tend to set new goals and make plans for the year ahead. But do we stop and take stock of the friend circle around us? I tend to take relationships very seriously, especially friendships. But when is too much really too much? All relationships, be it friendship or romantic, need to have a balance. When that balance fails to exist and the scales fall heavily to one side, it’s probably time to take a serious look at that alliance.

Fact: Unhealthy friendships can poison your own personal well-being.

It’s unfortunate but true. I know, because I have been there. How do you recognize when the relationship has gone off kilter and what do you do about it?

Major points to look for when you spend time with the person in question:

• Does the person make you feel good about yourself? Uplift you with his or    her comments and praise.  Or does the person leave you feeling small and insufficient? The latter is not a good sign. Of course, I don’t really need to tell you that.

• Does he or she ask how you are or what you are up to? Or is all the talk about them and their latest accomplishment or adventure? That is the sign of one self-absorbed individual. You might want to establish a little more two-way communication.

• Do they always make decisions for you as a group or couple without taking the time to find out your wishes or desires beforehand? Would you not want your interests considered? Would you not do the same for someone else? What’s wrong with this picture?

• When he or she spends time with you, are they really with you or are they constantly updating their Facebook page or texting other people? I.E. not in the now, not with you?

• Is he or she only interested in spending time with you when it’s convenient for them, no matter what it means for your schedule? Are they asking you to move things around to fit their needs? Hmm.

• Are they always right no matter what the cost?

• Does the person seem to be possessive of you and begin to “separate” you from your friends, so they can have you all to themselves? Are they threatening your other friendships, your marriage, your own personal values and vision of happiness and life? If so, they are NOT looking out for your interests at all, but their own needs.

Time to air out those feelings?

Now that you have considered a few of the distinguishing features of a friendship turning sour, what do you do about it?

If you’re like me, loyal to the friends that you have, and the bonds you create, you are going to try and salvage the relationship. Don’t charge in guns blazing. This will get you splattered on the sidewalk nowhere fast. Most people who demonstrate the characteristics above will slam the door in your face.

• Take some time to pull yourself together and let the hurt inflicted upon you find its place before tallying forth. When you do finally approach your friend, you can now do it with a clear mind and an even temper. At least that’s the hope. You’ll be opening your heart to this person, sharing your pain, and that in itself will be hard enough. You don’t want to go in when you are still burning red hot with the pain they have unknowingly caused you.  Remember that they unknowingly caused the pain. In most cases they are completely unaware of how their actions have hurt you.

• Have what is hopefully a calm discussion about your feelings, two-way communication and everything you are missing in the relationship. If that doesn’t open up your friend and you find them incapable of acknowledging or addressing the issues, then it’s okay to consider saying goodbye.

• That gut wrenching ache, that twist in your belly every time you think about that person, the worry about how you are going to take their call or handle their response – let it all go. Accept the fact that sometimes we cannot fulfill another’s “need” at the expense of our own lives, marriage, etc. We cannot “FIX” other people who may be broken through no fault of our own.

✮We must look for the positive in the people we surround ourselves with – we must exude positive towards others and accept that to ourselves. If people drag us down, we will probably drag others down as well. If they lift us up, we will most likely pass it on and be much happier for it.

Let it all go. That is the poison seeping through your inner system.

Be willing to let the negative energy go and each day you’ll start to feel a little bit better. Sometimes the most important thing for your body is knowing when to cut relationships free. There is a time for everything. When they are making you ache, twist and churn internally – it’s time.

Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about them anymore. It simply says you need to take care of you first. If the relationship is no longer beneficial to both parties and isn’t going both ways, the other person will manage just fine. Take care of number one. Cut out the negative and cleanse your surrounding environment. You’ll be happy you did. I know I was. Start your new year out clean and sparkling with a positive outlook.

Cheers to great things in 2012 as you surround yourself with positive people!

I love hearing from you! If you enjoyed this post or any of my previous posts, I’d be delighted to have you follow by email or RSS for any future posts!

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About Debra Kristi

Debra Kristi is a mother, an author, a Pinterest addict, and sometimes DIY home decorator. Hang with her to organize your everyday and leave your mind open to the fantastical.
This entry was posted in Friendships, Life, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to The Review – Are Your Relationships Good for Your Health?

  1. mgmillerbooks says:

    Oh, the things I could tell you. But I won’t put it in a public forum. Ha. Obviously, you’ve been there. What a difference it makes when we shed those negative people, those narcissistic personality disorder types, those Eeyore the Donkeys. I hope your readers take this to heart. For many it could be the first step in learning to love oneself, which is paramount in learning to love others, and the beginnings of “a beautiful friendship” as it were.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Agreed Mike. Sorry you have been there. Sometimes it is tough to see when you are in the thick of it, but the healing afterwards is amazing and well worth the this review. I’m so glad to hear you in that better, balanced place.

  2. Alana says:

    How do you think this applies to family members that you can’t really drop from your life? That’s the problem I’ve been facing for a long time.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I am sorry you are going through that Alana. Believe it or not, I do have a little experience with that as well. Probably not to the degree you are experiencing. I have seen through my own and my friends around me that just because people are family through blood doesn’t mean they are always the best “family” for you. Sometimes the best family for you and your health are the family you meet along the way. The one made up of friends that love, support you and take your best interest into consideration .

      If your blood relations are harmful to your mental health, who says you need to have a lot of contact with them? If talking with them and addressing the issue hasn’t helped and things have continued on the same path than you need to take care of yourself and your own mental health. If you can’t cut them out of your life or don’t feel comfortable doing so, scale back your contact to what you DO feel comfortable with. Food for thought.

      • I have family members that I’ve had to just let “lapse contact with” because all of their conversation revolved around “who done who wrong”, endlessly regurgitating imaginary or real grievances, often from 30 years ago, and often on the phone when they’re drunk late at night. In the end I’ve just had to say “ring me when you’re sober” and hang up. Or cease returning phone calls or answering provocative letters that were attempts to start another argument. You don’t have to go out of your way to have contact with people, even if they are relatives. You don’t have to respond to letters or emails, or facebook posts. There are lots of ways to effectively “unfriend people” without a showdown.

        • Debra Kristi says:

          I agree with you Richard. I have family like that as well and so far none of it has come to a showdown where I’m concerned. There are all kinds of people, some more clingy than others. Not all will allow you to “unfriend” them or brush them off in that manner, but if you can it will save a lot of pain on all ends. Sometimes, for your own state of well being the talk is needed. It all depends on the initial relationship and how close it was to begin with. Thank you so much for your input and for stopping by.

  3. My life has become so much more enjoyable since learning this lesson. We are not responsible for the happiness of others, especially at our own expense! This is one lesson I’m trying hard to get my kids to learn. If only they would stop listening to the wrong people…the ones who bring them down and make them feel less about themselves. Unfortunately, it took me many years to get to this point. Tough lessons but valuable ones! Blessings!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Blessings to you Deborah!

      Yes, if only we could save our children the years of hard learning through the value of our experiences. But there is something to learning on your own. And many of these lessons they must learn on their own. Hopefully they will come to realize it sooner than we did.

  4. This is such an important lesson to learn and is part of the reason I am now single. Relationships have to be uplifting and supportive or I walk away. Been there, learned that, got the t-shirt. I hope many people read this post and learn from it.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Oh, I’m sorry Louise. That’s tough. It’s even worse when you have the emotions of a marriage intertwined (with all the paperwork and trappings). I see SO many spouses in relationships take the negative abuse and just get beaten down on a regular basis and it breaks my heart. No one should be made to feel that way. You are better than that. I’m glad you got out of that.

  5. You’re right about letting negative energy go. I’ve been struggling with this one for a long time. :-/ I feel guilty letting people go, but sometimes that has to be done.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      When I was in it, I was feeling guilty too. Once I let go, it was liberating. Shedding the negativity was the key. I think it’s important to fill our lives with as much positive as possible. You shouldn’t feel guilty for things you can’t control, and you have no control over their problems.

  6. I’ve found that if I don’t make an effort to continue the relationship, often those poisonous people won’t make an effort to be included in my life. Which makes it easy. It’s when they get possessive of you that can be difficult – and can escalate into something dangerous. Great post, Debra!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Thank you Christine! You’ve been lucky that your poisonous people contact has been an easy shed, for the most part. I agree, they can become much more difficult. Let’s hope no one here has had to deal with dangerous.

  7. I wish I had read this years ago, I might have been able to save myself some heartache. There were several unhealthy relationships I should have let go of, but I stuck it out making excuses only to get burned in the end. I’m still a little gun shy with making friends because I didn’t listen to this type of advice sooner. Lesson learned the hard way. But on the bright side, I am now married to my best friend and we have a wonderful marriage. I couldn’t ask for a better husband.
    I’ve told my daughters if they listen to one thing I say let it be that a lady has to have her standards and stick to them!
    Thanks for sharing this one!
    Jennifer

    • Debra Kristi says:

      You are very welcome Jennifer! I agree, a lady must have her standards. I’m glad to hear you are married to your best friend. That is wonderful! I hope your daughters listen and take you up on that advice. I, too, wish I had had this advice at my disposal several years ago. What are you going to do. Live and learn.

  8. Coleen Patrick says:

    I once read something on this subject that described those toxic people in your life as vampires, because they suck the life right out of you. It’s so true and I’ve been there and it’s amazing the lightness I felt once I let that person go.
    I love that Oprah quote. Thanks Debra!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      You’re welcome Coleen! You know, I thought of the last person as a vampire because of the way they made me feel. It’s true, they drain you. I made the mistake of letting them back in once. I learned my lesson. Life is too short to treat myself that way. I’m glad you are free of the negativity as well. It can make a huge difference in one’s life. Glad you like the Oprah quote. 😀

  9. I’ve had a lot of personal experience to teach me which type of relationships are harmful to me. I’ve let most of them go. I had a friend who wanted to hang out with me every night for a couple weeks when she moved back to the area, but once she found “new friends,” I was dumped quicker than a bug drinking bug spray. I don’t harbor any negative feelings towards her, but I know not to go out of my way to make her happy if she comes round again.

    I do have one relationship that is very unhealthy, but it’s been extremely hard to get away from it. (Family.)

    Great post, Debra. 🙂

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Thank you Angela. It sounds like you are mainly talking about what I call “user friends.” They use you until something “better” comes along. They usually don’t have your needs in mind and aren’t lifting you up. The truest friends are the ones that you don’t need to see every day , every week or even every month, but when you do you just fall right back into your groove like no time has passed. They are forgiving and caring and as friends you look out for one another. That’s the way I see it. They don’t need your full attention all of the time, because let’s face it, in today’s busy world that’s hard to give anyone, but they’ll be there for you when you really need them.

  10. I love this post. It’s a great reminder to me to “let go” of a few friendships that I feel bring a negative vibe to my life. It’s hard…the loyality etc but it’s important. Your post was spot on and the advice so poignant. Great timing for me so thank you! 🙂

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I have the same problem as far as loyalty goes Natalie. It took me awhile to realize how much damage I was doing to myself by staying loyal in some cases. I’m glad that I was able to pull it together in an easy to read manner that will be helpful to others. Thanks Natalie.

  11. Fantastic advice, Debra. One benefit of being a sensitive person is having a low tolerance for painful relationships. That’s not to say I haven’t had them! When I’ve allowed them to carry on, my creativity, happiness and health suffered incredibly. Luckily, we live and learn and get out. Or hopefully. “Bless the rocky road,” right?? 😉

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Live and learn, as they say? I believe that something positive comes out of each relationship. It’s just harder to see the positive sometimes. For example, the positive of my most negative relationship could be it resulting in this post and the people it may help some day or is already helping. You just never know. Maybe we aren’t meant to know, sometimes. But I am thankful for those painful times because they give me perspective for when I write – right? 😉

  12. Julie says:

    I am facing this issue right now, and the questions you asked in this post were eye-opening. It’s helped me evaluate my situation a bit more objectively. I realize I need to take steps toward making the relationship more positive or letting it go. Thanks!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I am so glad I was able to shine some light on your situation Julie. Remember how important you are and what great value you bring to any relationship. I hope you successfully surround yourself with light and remove the negative. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see an increase in your creativity should you do.

  13. I think we’ve all had these relationships – the person who wants to do nothing but whine about her problems, but never soes anything to change her situation. Add drugs or alcohol, and it can get ugly fast. I had a friend like this who went off at my husband one day (because she was back on drugs). I never realized what a drag her negativity was on me until I stopped talking to her after that incident. Soon after, I started writing. It’s been a much better friend, and has briught me many more!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Writing is a fabulous friend, isn’t it?! Yes, we have to draw the line when our friends start threatening our wedded relationship. I’ve seen that happen in my own and with others close to me. Our family unit needs to come first, I feel sorry for the friend that doesn’t understand that. I’m so happy you found a brighter place Jennette.

  14. Shannon Esposito says:

    So true, and the one time I had to do this, it was beneficial for the friend, also. She was hurt at first but stopped being so negative and co-dependent and we are friends again. You never know. 🙂

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I’m so glad to hear that worked out for you Shannon. Not everyone is so lucky. Be thankful that your friend was open to it. That’s a beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  15. SJ Driscoll says:

    Ohohohoho! That’s all I can say… After decades, I’m finally realizing that letting go of toxic relationships is possible. It’s hard when you’ve felt responsible for everything your whole life! Harder when you’re naturally too stubborn and determined to GET IT RIGHT. In my case it must come from being the oldest of four kids by the time I was seven. Thank you, Debra! Phew!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Wow, you carried a lot of responsibility on your shoulders didn’t you? I can only imagine. I know I did and I was left the eldest. But there were only two of us then, not as tough. I also had a hard time letting go and carried a lot of responsibility for things. It’s difficult. But this goes to show that we can learn, can’t we Sally? I’m glad to see we are both learning.

  16. Kara says:

    These are some important, but tough lessons to learn. I think for years I was a magnet for the kind of people who slowly drained the life out of me as I tried to meet all their needs. I finally realized many of the things you have pointed out and my life suddenly became so much more enjoyable and less “dramatic”. It’s hard though,and I find myself having to step back from certain people and family at times to keep myself in a negative free zone! Great post:)

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Thank you Kara! I think those of us that want to help others and go out of our way for them tend to attract negative people. Somehow they smell it on us or something. LOL The sooner we learn the better. I’m glad you are in a better place now. Thanks for stopping in.

  17. Welcome back, Debra!

    Relationships are so very important and the fact that our relationships can poison us so easily is very sad. It’s difficult not to invest oneself — mind and soul — into our relationships, so if they go sour, it can really destroy a person. You have great advice here. Thanks do much for sharing!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      You are very welcome Sheila. Thank you for your kind words. I agree, it is difficult not to invest one’s self. I was never good at superficial relationships. Although I know some who can pull that off, I am not one of them. I don’t believe I have run into any here yet either.

  18. I’m another one who’s been there, done that. Not an easy subject to write about, but you’ve handled it in a way that is not preachy, as these subjects can often be. Great post, Debra.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Thank you Alicia. I’m so glad I didn’t come off as preachy. I’m always afraid of that. I adore preachy. I guess we have all had a little of been there done that. Sorry to hear it. 😦

  19. Am working to distance myself from a negative friend. My goal is to spend more time with/give more time to friends who uplift (Great word choice, Debra!) me. Thanks for this post.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I am sending lots of positive vibes your way and wishing you lots of luck with that. I hope it works out. I most definitely want to see you surrounded by the “uplifting” individuals.

  20. Ginger Calem says:

    Wonderful and important post. Over the years I’ve gotten very good about making sure the people I associate with lift me up, support my dreams and goals and they are also people that I’d move heaven and earth to do the same for them.

  21. My goodness Debra what an awesome post! Some people can suck the life out of us. And there’s nothing worse than being in an abusive relationship whether spouse or friend or family member. I tend to be a very sensitive person. I can pick up on other people’s vibes. I run in the other direction if I sense negativity or bully stuff. I get hurt too easily and need self protection. But I love people. I love learning from other people, appreciating others talents. Talking and sharing thoughts and ideas. Thank you Debra for your insight and kindness. 🙂

    • Debra Kristi says:

      You are very welcome Karen. I understand where you are coming from. I am also a very sensitive person. I have been working lately to desensitize some of that. I need to worry less about what other people think and worry more about my being right with myself. After all, as writers, if we get published we will have to take criticism, right? So that is the latest challenge. Plus I tend to stick my foot in my mouth a lot so I worry about that often, and how that rolls back at me. LOL That can get a ball of negativity and self-doubt going if I’m not careful. I guess there are always areas for improvement.

  22. Emma Burcart says:

    What a great post! You are so right that friendships can be toxic. I love the list of sign of an unhealthy relationship. When I was in high school and college I had many friendships that would fit more than one symptom you listed. It took me awhile to figure it out and let those people go. Too bad this post wasn’t there back then. It is hard to let go of people, but I felt so much better when the toxic people were out of my life.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Isn’t that how it always works out Emma? I think I was still learning all this myself back then. Sorry someone else didn’t have this list up and readily available for you. The cleansing or detox removes such a weight of your chest.

  23. Fabio Bueno says:

    This is an important post! It took me a while to learn how to deal with some of these types. Most of them are still my friends, but the relationship changed.
    And, to be honest, I worry that I’ll become on of these people *shudders* I hope not.
    Great read, as always, Debra!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      hank you Fabio. That is so wonderful of you to say. It’s great that you have been able to keep those friends with simply adjusting the relationships. I hope you have adjusted them so that they lift you up and don’t drag you down. If you don’t want to become one of those “types” than make a conscious choice each day to not be one. I find I sometimes struggle with that. We’re all human.

  24. Great points, Debra! I’ve ended a few friendships and relationships in my past when I have realized that I was either taken an advantage of, under-appreciated, ignored etc.
    It’s extremely unhealthy to stay in a bad relationship or to continue a friendship with someone who disrespects us or takes an advantage of us without giving anything back. Life is too short and we have to learn to move forward for our own good.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Great attitude Angela! I agree 100%. Life is too short. Therefore we should make the best of it and fill it with positive things and positive people. Thank you for your great insight.

  25. A timely and relevant post, Debra. Your compassion shines through your writing. Blessings to you for sharing your wisdom and helping others to find their strength.

  26. This was really helpful even though I’m blessed with more than a few excellent friends. Would you consider doing one on how to handle toxic work relationships? Those come with their own challenges.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Wow, Marcy. So glad to hear you have a strong circle. I hadn’t thought of the work angle. It’s been a little while since I’ve been in an office. I’ll have to give that some thought and see what I can come up with. You are so right, they come with a whole other set of challenges. Thank you for thinking I am worthy of covering such a topic.

  27. This is great. Been there and have the T-shirt, but I learned. All my friends know this, “If you can’t lift me up, at least don’t drag me down.” I’m so awfully busy and hard to find when things get toxic. After a number of years of this I am now surrounded by a large group of loving supportive friends.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Prudence, you strike me as a very wise woman whom we could all learn a lot from. You amaze me with all that you are able to accomplish in the time you have available to you. No doubt, all the positive energy you surround yourself with helps tremendously. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us.

  28. It’s so scary to be in that position, but like you said, must be done. Taking care of number one too often gets pushed aside for everyone else, including the toxic soul stealers who bring us down. Thanks to friends like you, I’ve taken the steps necessary to trim two people from my life that were more than toxic. It’s tough, but each day gets easier and easier. I’m getting better about my people radar as well. If there are any red flags or ‘needy’ blinking in neon lights over their head, I’m out of there. Great post and awesome information. Thanks Doll!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Oh Tameri, I’m glad you’ve taken the steps to heal yourself and your relationships. We should make a new law that all mojo sucking individuals are required to wear bright blinking lights over their heads! LOL But I have seen that you have developed some wonderful relationships here in the blogging community. That warms my heart. I believe friendships found here can ground and blossom into long-lasting, strong and sturdy friendships. I am looking forward to taking that journey with the new friends I am making. You are, no doubt, among them.

  29. Elisa says:

    I needed to read this–especially today. Sometimes I have such a hard time standing up for myself. I need to, though. It’s not good for me, and now my family as well when other people take my time and suck me dry.

    Thanks for reminding me how important it is to have healthy relationships 😉

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Elisa, you are such a beautiful soul. I hate to hear that you are letting anyone bring you down. I am glad this information was here for you when you needed it. I know what you mean about it affecting the family as well. I hope you clear the negative out of your space, allowing for a clearer, lighter you. You are too important for anything less. And you’ve had enough crap already.

      ❤ you Elisa.

  30. Lynn Kelley says:

    I think you’ve covered it all in this post, Debra, about friendships. Yep, I’ve had those kinds of negative friendships, too, and they truly do leave us feeling down, down, down. Who needs that? Thanks for the excellent advice, wonderful words of wisdom!

    • Debra Kristi says:

      hank you Lynn. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised how many of us have had experience with these negative relationships, but it’s sad that’s the case. I agree, who needs that? Thank you for taking time out of your insane schedule to stop by Lynn.

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