The nightmare of navigating the relationship maze

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According to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs – love and belonging are essential to our wellbeing.

It’s certainly true that relationships are about more than companionship. From a very young age, our interactions with others help us to learn about boundaries and communication, and teach us valuable life lessons.

Of course, the term ‘relationship’ covers everything from casual acquaintances and work colleagues, to family and romantic partners. But today I particularly want to focus on friendships; and specifically, the ones that suck our energy and may even keep us awake at night.

I came across a video that really got me thinking. (The video is about fake relationships – Click here if you are interested) This is a discussion about fake or ambivalent friendships, and how bad they are for you.

The big point I took away from this was how the time and energy you spend worrying about whether or not somebody is a true friend, or if you even want to spend more time with them, is some thing that keeps you awake at night.

It’s so interesting to think that this can be more draining on your time and energy that being around a truly toxic person. With a toxic person, you know to keep your distance and your boundaries are clear.

But with one of those strange relationships where you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, this lack of clarity causes an internal debate between your conscious mind and your subconscious.

Do you have a relationship with somebody that just feels ‘off’?

Could it be an ambivalent friendship?

According to the discussion in the video, the way to tell is if you find yourself doubting if they are genuinely happy for you when you share good news.

Certainly, I’ve had my fair share of friendships that took me down the wrong path. Of course, I take full responsibility for my own decisions at the time. And of course, every experience plays a role in helping us to become the person we are today – it’s all learning!

But what I want to prevent for you is losing hours of sleep and precious peace of mind.

So ask yourself this… 
How many times do you go to bed and think over a conversation you’ve had that day with a friend? And does that thinking over then trigger so many emotions that you are unable to rest well?

This can stop you from relaxing enough to go to sleep, or cause you to wake up with a nightmare. You may even wake up absolutely exhausted because you have wrestled with your thoughts all night.

When I work with clients, this part of their life comes into the forefront of our work as well.

Because of our human needs for love and belonging, we all sometimes get pulled into friendships or situations that we don’t really want to be in. Sometimes, we feel like we should do things with an ambivalent friend – even if spending time with them isn’t good for our mental wellbeing.

Before we know it, we are not putting themselves first. We might stay out late because of a passive aggressive comment from our ‘friend’ about not bailing too early. We might answer their late night text messages because we don’t want to seem rude, and we are never quite sure if they really like us.

As humans, we not only want, but need to be liked. So we give and give, and then we get tired. But it is not all doom and gloom! When I work on this with my clients, I give them some simple tools and techniques to avoid these situations.

Here are a few you can try for yourself:

  • Figure out who your true friends are – the supportive ones who have your back. These are the friends who are equally honest and supportive. Sometimes you are there for them, and sometimes they are there for you.
  • Acknowledge and accept relationships that you have to work on (this can be useful at work). Sometimes you play a supportive role in a friendship, and that is your only role. The trick here is to remember that these are not the same as your friendships in point one, so don’t expect much in return, and keep your boundaries in place!
  • Put yourself first in every scenario – yes, be selfish! This will help you to make better decisions on where you spend your absolutely precious time every day. This isn’t about being rude or cruel, but it is about realising what you, as a human being, need first. If that is an extra hour of sleep instead of dinner, then politely say no and schedule another time to meet up.

Are you currently experiencing sleep loss due to a difficult relationship? Leave me a comment below.

Or if you would like to work with me one-on-one,click on the ‘Yes, I’d love that! button’ below.

Spending time with true friends recharge you and help you sleep better, don’t you agree?!

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