The COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime. We all have had to change the way we live and interact with each other. No matter your age, gender, or ethnicity, you’ve most likely changed the way you live. My recent exposure to COVID-19 and its tremendous impact on my health forced me to reevaluate friendships and relationships. Being sick for almost two weeks now surprisingly revealed who I could truly count on while being down. I think we all need to reevaluate our friendships and relationships on a regular basis. I recently read how some people reevaluate their relationships and friendships consistently. This practice will start to be a regular process for me.
Know how you want to be treated.
So, you don’t want to be treated like a doormat. You want to be respected and heard, acknowledged for your accomplishments, and listened to when you’re feeling down. You also want to be able to express your feelings without fear of judgment or shame. You want friends who will listen when something is bothering you, that won’t gossip about one another behind their back, who will look out for each other and make sure everyone feels included in social events. And if anyone does something that makes them uncomfortable? They should have the courage and self-respect necessary to say so — whether it’s telling your friend he needs to stop making sexist jokes or telling your boyfriend not to drink so much at parties so he doesn’t ruin yours by passing out on the floor halfway through them (or worse).
We all deserve good friends who treat us well — but what makes someone a good friend?
- Recognize patterns of behavior, not just one incident. You might be tempted to say, “Oh, he was a jerk that one time but he’s a great guy most of the time!” It is important to look at your friend or family member’s overall behavior, rather than simply the individual incident. If you are able to see patterns emerge from their actions and words over time—especially if they are negative—you will be more likely to recognize when something is wrong with your relationship with them.
- Recognize your own patterns and how you are in relationships: As an introvert (or extrovert), it can be difficult for us all at times to recognize our own needs and desires in our relationships with others. We may not even realize that we have very strong expectations about how people should behave around us until we find ourselves disappointed by someone’s actions or words because they don’t live up to that expectation. For example, I am an introverted woman who enjoys being with people close to me and being in settings that are calm and peaceful. I need my alone time almost every day so that I can recharge my energy levels after being around other people for long periods of time! Each of us has areas where our preferences may differ from those around us; however, these differences should not impact our love for each other (nor does it mean one has more value than another).
Give serious thought to why you want to improve this relationship.
Give serious thought to why you want to improve this relationship. Are you doing it for the kids? For your family? Your career? Your mental and physical health? The right answer is whatever motivates you most because a friendship or romantic relationship isn’t just about one person—it’s also about the other person and their needs as well. If a friendship isn’t working out, there may be underlying issues that need addressing before things can progress further (or at least until both parties are more comfortable with each other).
Set your boundaries and stick to them!
It’s important to set boundaries and stick to them. If you don’t, people will assume that you don’t have any and will start taking advantage of your generosity. If they see that they can get away with it, they’ll do it again.
It’s OK not to give someone what they want if it’s in conflict with what you need or want—and that includes people close to you! We all have different ideas of what a healthy relationship looks like, so be clear about how much time or energy you’re willing to spend on each person in your life.
Some friends might feel hurt or angry when you establish these boundaries because they’ve been overstepping their bounds for a while now, but this is not just about them. It’s about setting limits so everyone can focus on being present for each other (and themselves!).
People who truly deserve your time and attention will respect your boundaries, and appreciate your commitment.
It’s important to remember that people who truly deserve your time and attention will respect your boundaries, and appreciate the extra effort you put in. Their reactions when things don’t go their way are also telling. They don’t try to manipulate you or guilt-trip you into making changes that aren’t right for you.
They won’t let you down when you need them most, and they won’t use your generosity as an excuse for their own selfishness or laziness. They’ll also understand if there are times when it’s best for both parties not to see each other and respect those decisions as well.
If you are wondering whether or not you should change your friendship status, I would recommend that you reach out to your friend and have an honest conversation about how their behavior has been affecting you. If they are willing to change for the better, great! If not, it’s time for a clean break. You can’t force someone to be who they aren’t.