MHAW16 (Day 6): Improving Your Relationships

Relationships take effort and if you want and appreciate your friends/partner, you too are also responsible for maintaining a healthy friendship/relationship.
“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.”
– Octavia Butler
Make time for your relationships.
Sometimes, we may not have the time to physically see them as often as you’d like or previously used to. That’s life, things change and situations change but true friendships should withstand the time and distance. Healthy friendships should be able to continue as before whenever you see them again the next time. Show your friends/partner that you appreciate them by taking the time to show them that they are in your thoughts. A simple text out of the blue to see how they’ve been getting on is sometimes all it takes. But don’t discard your efforts by failing to respond – keep the conversation going!
Be supportive.
We may not always agree with the choices our friends/partner make but we have to remember that they are entitled to live their life and make their own choices in the same way that we are too. In some cases, the choices they make have the potential to be destructive. But if they are unable to see it and can’t appreciate that you are only concerned because you care for them then sometimes you have to let them do their thing and be there for them if they fall (without saying I told you so!). Part of being a friend or a partner is supporting them through their choices, regardless of whether you agree with it/accept it. If their choices are something you can’t put up with then you have the right to walk away instead of trying to change them.
Be open and honest.
Honesty and effective communication are two very important characteristics that all healthy relationships/friendships must have. You have a right to have an opinion and express your feelings and sometimes, telling our friends/partners how we really feel or addressing a touchy topic can be a really difficult thing to do. But if you truly care for someone, you will do more harm than good by telling them as soon as you can. Be very careful to choose the right time, choose the right words and say it in the right way. For example, there are many ways to tell someone that they don’t smell right without saying, “you stink” in front of other people. Also, consider the type of person when deciding how to say it. If you’re dealing with someone who would rather you be straight up- then do just that. Alternatively, if you know your friend can be sensitive or could take it the wrong way then take the time to deal with the matter sensitively. At the end of the day, show them that it’s coming from a good place (i.e., not to embarrass or hurt them) and they will appreciate you for your honesty.
Be a good listener.
Being a good listener is important if you want to be a good friend/partner. If you talk at someone a lot – you can’t be doing much listening. Make sure you notice the signs they give out when they feel like you’ve not been paying attention. For example, they may say constantly “I’ve told you this already”. There’s nothing worse than for someone to feel like they’re not being listened to so make sure you don’t come across selfish when really, you just love talking to them. It’s totally fine to talk a lot when you have a lot to say, but remember that it’s equally as important to give them the chance to speak and listen carefully when they do. Remember to talk ‘with’ them and not ‘at them’. The simplest way to do this is to ask them questions, wait for a response and listen to the response! Then, follow on from what they’ve said without jumping onto something completely different or continuing with whatever you were saying before. It can be difficult if you’re not used to it, but being a good listener will make you come across more caring and supportive, even if you show it in other ways.
Take responsibility when things go wrong.
We can’t do everything right and sometimes we are so quick to tell other people when they’re in the wrong or have done something to hurt us, so we should respect our friends/partners by doing the same when we are in the wrong. If you are on the receiving end of your friend/partner telling you how they feel, appreciate that they too have a right to be open and honest and give them the respect by taking their concerns on board. What you choose to do with it or how you react is totally up to you but it could have negative consequences for your friendships/relationships. Alternatively, we should be mindful and aware of the things we may do (sometimes without realising) to hurt others. If you’re concerned you may not be acting like a good friend/partner, being self-reflective and self-evaluative to a certain degree helps us to pick out our flaws and improve on them. This can allow us to be better friends/lovers by showing that we have a level of maturity to accept that we can make mistakes too and dealing with them in the right way.


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