How would you rate the relationships in your life? Are they overall good or could most use improvement? Do you have better relationships with friends rather than family? Are you well liked at work? Our relationships must be tailored to deal with each group of people in our lives whether it be family, significant others, colleagues, or with ourselves, but the formula for all is the same. Successful relationships require understanding, acceptance, boundaries. From these things we can develop accurate expectations of others and decide who we let in and who we keep at a distance. We must understand ourselves, why we seek the things we seek in others and what we react to, while trying to understand the same in others. We must also practice acceptance. When we accept human nature, we can accept ourselves for who we are and others for who they are. We don’t want to start or continue any relationship in life with the intention to change someone else. Finally, we need to set appropriate boundaries for each relationship. What will we accept of ourselves and what won’t we accept of others. When these three ideals come together, we can develop realistic expectations. When these expectations are set, we can assess disappointment and chose which relationships would be good for us.
What makes it tricky: Love can be blind.
The healthiest time to be in a romantic relationship is when you have a true understanding and acceptance of yourself. Do you know what your needs and wants are? Do you understand the person you are today and what has made you that way? Do you love yourself for all of these things, good, bad, and ugly? Do you accept that you’re slightly neurotic, have Prince dance marathons on Fridays, and dream of running a Yorkie Refugee Farm? Good. Now find someone that will too. When someone pursuing you respects you for who you are and understands your boundaries, they set a good foundation to develop a relationship with. When we understand ourselves it becomes easier to understand the ways of others close to us. We should only get into relationships that are appropriate for us, and that means accepting from the start who may not be good for us, no matter what the temptations may be. We can’t get mad at people for cheating if they were cheating when we met them, or mad that someone isn’t a plastic surgeon if we picked them up working at a tattoo shop. We can expect that while no one is perfect, we will experience little disappointment from people we understand and accept.
What makes it tricky: We can’t choose our family.
Some families have great relationships, some are more challenging, and some are non existent and require lots of alcohol at family functions. When relationships are good we should enjoy it and know we can expect happiness and support from our family, when it’s bad there isn’t much we can do. What we can do is accept our family members for who they are. If you have a challenging relationship with a family member, you won’t continually deal with disappointment if you don’t set high expectations for that relationship. Understand who they are, how they cross your boundaries, accept that it may not ever change, and keep the relationship in a place it can’t hurt you. Instead of fighting, crying, and agonizing over it, we can choose not to participate. Even family members have the potential to be too toxic for your well being so it’s important to set boundaries when necessary. This is a good example of how even a bad relationship can be better when our expectations are right. It is also a good example of why flasks are handy.
What makes it tricky: We still gotta work with them.
With colleagues we want to lead with boundaries. We have to understand that these relationships may never develop into friendships so we don’t want to divulge much personal information. Work is work, we need to go to work and there is nothing worse than having an awkward relationship with someone you see 40 hours a week. People at work are definitely going to annoy us. There’s going to be someone so irritating that just watching her eat a cracker pisses you off. For this reason, it’s good to practice acceptance that there are many personalities in the world that we have to work with and understand we all do things differently. When we don’t expect more of our colleagues than being just that, our work relationships can be so much better.
What makes it tricky: We grandfather people in.
We love our friends. They are the strange mix of significant others, family members, and colleagues. I think an obstacle we encounter as adults is that sometimes these friendships aren’t really working anymore, but we keep them around because we’ve known them forever. Well that’s stupid. I wouldn’t keep a pair of jeans I can’t button or a car that won’t run just because I’ve had it since 1998. Why would we choose new friends based on what we feel is acceptable and healthy but let the old ones stick around with their bad behavior? Because we’ve grandfathered those bitches in. If a friendship is toxic and constantly disappointing, it’s time to reevaluate whether you should keep them around. Some bad behaviors aren’t really deal breakers, like the friend that takes forever to text you back or the one that sometimes forgets your birthday. I have a friend like that and when I stopped getting mad about it, expecting her to change, and accepted that was just her, our relationship got better. I know which friends I can turn to in a crisis and which ones are perfect for fashion advice or to grab a coffee with because I’ve assessed realistic expectations for each. The real offenders though, like your friend from 8th grade that always talks about you behind your back or the one that flirts with your boyfriend, need to go. Girl, bye! The important thing to remember is that not all the relationships you have with people require a lot of depth or energy to be good relationships (like with colleagues, and family members), and we don’t have to keep ones with people who are undeserving (old toxic friends, bad boyfriends). The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. When you have the right expectations of others, it will ensure a happier life for yourself. You deserve understanding, acceptance, and respect from everyone you give it to, but especially from you.
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