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July 23, 2013

Are You Wearing Out Your Relationships?

IStock_000013858349XSmallOne of the greatest things about friendships is the support you feel in times of struggle. There’s nothing like knowing you have someone to turn to when times get hard. It’s also great to know there are people out there who will love you even when you’re not at your best.

Sometimes, though, people can fall into a destructive pattern with their friends and begin to wear out their welcome. They can do the same with siblings, spouses, co-workers, etc., by leaning on them too much. You see, people are happy to help others in times of struggle and, in fact, most people feel good about helping others. The problem happens when the help doesn’t help and the struggles seem to never end. People like to feel as if  they have influence on others. They like to feel that they can make a difference. When their actions don’t seem to make a dent in a person’s situation, though, it begins to drain  their energy. They begin to feel a bit helpless and grow tired of the person’s constant struggle. They also often begin to feel as though the friendship or relationship is a one-way relationship—one where they are always the one helping, while the other person is always the one needing the help. As you can imagine, this can get old after a while. 

When it comes to relationships, they work best when there is a healthy balance of give and take. Both people need to support and be supported. If one person is constantly the one who is bummed, depressed, hating themselves or in a state of drama, the other person will begin to feel as though their energy is being drained. 

Below are several clues that you may be wearing out your relationships:

  • You frequently complain about your life or circumstances—even when they change.
  • You use problems as a way of connecting to people and getting their attention.
  • You frequently tell people how fat, inept, weird, etc., you are and when they say you’re great, you push back and tell them you’re not.
  • You frequently complain about your marriage or mother or_________ (fill in the blank), but don’t take people’s advice when they try to help you.
  • You put yourself down, yet when people tell you what you could do differently, you say you’re too tired or make up some excuse so you can keep on doing what you’re doing.
  • You’re quick to ask others for help, but slow to give help
  • You’ve been complaining about the same thing for more than two months without doing anything about it.
  • You notice your friends have stopped contacting you as often as before.

When it comes to relationships, take a close look at how you are in them. If you’re constantly complaining about life when others ask, perhaps you’ve created a bad habit of using struggles as a way to connect or get attention. If you truly are down on life and yourself, then seek professional help, since you’re likely depressed. Talk to a professional about your struggles and save the positives for your friends. In general, keep your finger on the pulse of your relationships and don’t burn people out. Give support as much as you ask for support and push yourself to think positively, speak positively and to develop a positive lens. This lens will serve you well in life and in your relationships. Turning to your friends in times of struggle is great as long as those times of struggle are more the exception than the rule. If people feel that nothing they do will help, they eventually will stop trying to help. Don’t let things get to that point. Change your moves now.

Challenge: Read the above list of clues that you’re wearing out your relationships and commit to stopping the moves that are wearing them down. Get outside support if you need to and learn to take in the positive feedback from friends and loved ones rather than pushing back against it.

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