How to Cultivate Healthy Relationships and Avoid Toxic Ones
By Author Name
Sep 13, 2019
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
While no man (or woman) is an island, it can also be difficult to get along with others. Friendships and romantic endeavors all have their ups and downs, but you never want to be stuck in a relationship that’s doing you more harm than good. That’s why it’s good to set the right kind of expectations when it comes to your connections with others. If you follow these rules, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating healthy relationships and avoiding potentially toxic situations.
Whether it’s a friend with an infectious personality or a charismatic partner, it can be easy to be swept away in a new relationship. And while it’s fine to appreciate someone for who they are, you should also embrace your own unique personality! Remember, there’s a reason they like you in the first place, so don’t lose your own unique qualities. Keep your own personal goals and growth in mind regardless of how much time you’re spending with someone new.
One of the worst things you could do to sabotage a new relationship would be to build it on a foundation of dishonesty. It doesn’t even have to be a big ol’ dirty lie that you’re hiding — it could be withholding something trivial. For example, it might not seem like a big deal to lie and say you like spicy food to appease your friend at dinner. But later on, you’re going to regret that decision when your mouth is constantly on fire, and they’ll be offended that you didn’t feel you could tell them the truth.
Empathy is basically a fancy way of saying “put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” Really take a moment to think about how your counterpart might be feeling given their situation and personality. Everyone is on their own journey, and it can be hard sometimes to remember that something may affect another person entirely different than it would affect you. The enemy of empathy is self-centeredness or narcissism, so make strides to eliminate those from your relationship.
Constant communication doesn’t mean that you’re texting or calling each other nonstop. But remaining open to communication when there’s confusion or a misunderstanding is crucial. To simply shut down and avoid a problem will only make it worse. It’s better to hash things out and start things off with a policy to talk about things when they arise. Maybe your friend or partner is someone who needs to take a step back before a discussion — that’s fine as long as you can discuss things civilly shortly afterward.
Don’t be that friend who always flakes out — no one likes that! Part of establishing a trusting relationship is simply showing up and doing what you say you’re going to do. If you’re unreliable in one aspect of your life, there’s a good chance you’re unreliable in other ways too. Build strong bonds of trust and conviction for a healthy backbone of any connection.
Keep in mind these “boundaries” can be applied to any subject. If your friend keeps borrowing money from you, set a boundary to not let him/her ask for any more until the first amount is paid back. If your partner wants to spend every waking moment with you but you need alone time, set that boundary. It’s all about knowing what’s best for you, what’s best for them and finding an agreement.
Of course, all of the previous rules don’t really work unless both people are actively practicing them. This doesn’t mean you need to keep score of who’s being a better friend — just make sure you’re both putting in the effort and pulling your own weight. No partnership is totally perfect — sometimes they’re a lot of work. Just remember that it takes two to tango!
Do you have any advice for creating better relationships? If so, feel free to share it in the comments!