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Relationship Overhaul: 5 Ways To Know If The People In Your Life Are Worth Keeping

When was the last time you stopped and took the time to really think about the relationships you have in your life?  How often do you stop and evaluate how the people you choose to spend your time with affect you and ultimately impact your life?  

 

Now, I am not suggesting at all that other people have the power or ability to make you feel a certain way or are responsible for your life and what is going on in it.  What I am saying is your choices in whom you have in your life and who you choose to spend time with can affect you and have some impact on your life.  But ultimately that responsibility…those choices are up to you.  

 

So, if you were to take a moment and think about all of the people you have in your life right now.  Sure, there are people to whom we are really close, acquaintances, co-workers, family members.  Your list might be a mile long.  But I am talking about the people with whom you spend the majority of your time.  Those people who occupy your thoughts, energy and are basically really “in” your life.

Relationship Overhaul: 5 Ways To Know If The People In Your Life Are Worth Keeping

 

1. You Can Always Be Yourself

When you are hanging out at home on a random Saturday afternoon all alone, what are you doing?  How are you spending your time?  If this person were to suddenly ring your doorbell unannounced right at that moment, would you be able to open the door and feel comfortable letting them in?  Or, would you be mortified and scared for them to see you possibly not “all done up” and worried that they might see your house is not completely immaculate?  

 

Basically, when you have someone in your life that is worth keeping, there is are no pretenses and no worries about them judging you for not being “on” all the time and for them seeing you at your worst.  You don’t feel the need to put on a mask and act a certain way or feel any pressure to portray your life as anything other than what it really is.  When you are having a great day or a bad one, you know that they don’t judge you or really even care. They just want to be around you for you and you have a sense of peace and calm around them because you know this.

2. You Have Fun Around Them

Let’s face it, there are a lot of stressful and tough times in this life.  If your relationships with other people are also stressful and bring you a lot of angst, then this is something to think about.  Are you constantly fighting or in conflict with this other person?  Do you find yourself debating hot topics like politics or parenting styles?  Do you find yourself going out with them, but really not enjoying yourself?

 

This oftentimes happens when people have been in your life for so long that they just become that “someone” you continue to hang around with, but never really question if they still have anything in common with you anymore.  Maybe in high school or college, the two of you were the best of friends and partied every weekend together.  But, now that 10, 15 or 20 years have passed, your lives have gone in completely different directions and while they may still enjoy spending a night out partying and sleeping off a hangover the next day, you prefer a night at the movies followed up by an early night to bed.  

 

It is ok to accept that sometimes you grow apart from people you once used to be close to and choose not to spend as much time with them. Time is limited, so ask yourself if you are spending it with people with whom you are engaging in activities you both find enjoyable. Are you spending time with people with whom you find yourself smiling and laughing with?  If not, it is a sign that your relationships with these people might not be serving you well.    

3. It is Mutual

Need a last-minute ride to the airport?  This is the person you know you can call and, baring them having something going on in their own life, they will be there to take you. And, they know you will do the same for them.  If either of you is going through a really rough time and need someone to call for support, you are each other’s “go-to” person.  

 

If you are always reaching out to this person, calling and leaving them messages, texting them, or inviting them places and they rarely respond or invite you places, this is not a mutual relationship.  It is very unbalanced.  In romantic relationships, we refer to this as the “pursuer and distancer”.  The more you pursue, the more they distance.  It can feel awful to be the pursuer and have the other person distance themself from you.  If you are both not meeting each other halfway, or at least not reaching out to one another equally, you might want to seriously rethink how much effort and energy you are wasting on this relationship.

 

Likewise, if you are constantly feeling like this person is demanding of your time or expecting you to be there for them when they need something (emotional support, money when they are in need, someone to watch their house when they are out of town, etc..) but when you try to reach out to them for anything, they are nowhere to be seen or unable to help you out, you need to ask yourself how much longer you can tolerate giving this other person so much of your time and energy without getting much back in return.  

4. You Are a Better Person/Your Life Is Better Around Them 

The best people to have in your life are those who want the best for you.  They not only see the best in you but remind you of what that is when you are feeling down and need to be reminded of what makes you a great, amazing person.  Someone who encourages you is your biggest fan and biggest support person to help you when you are seeking that promotion, want to leave your crappy job, or are scared to death to call that crush you have been obsessing over for the past week is a great person to have in your life.  They can’t actually take the steps and do anything to make your life happen, but they are there with you along the way as your cheerleader.

 

Now, on the other hand, if you have people in your life that pull and drag you down, it is time to rethink your relationship with them.  Are they pointing out your flaws? Criticizing you?  Do you feel bad about yourself when you are around them?  Or, are there people in your life that you feel you are in constant competition with?  That you feel inadequate around?  Is hearing about their “great” life, education, relationship, house, etc.. leaving you feeling “less than” or asking yourself why your life “sucks” in comparison?  

 

Instead of feeling energized and motivated to better your life around some people, you may actually feel de-motivated as you feel there is no point in trying to do anything differently because you surely have no hope of being successful in comparison to them.  So ask yourself…are you surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people who see the best in you and want the best for you?  If not, it might just be time to revamp some of the people you have in your life.

5. Trust

What good is having someone in your life if you cannot trust them?  Have you ever caught this person lying to someone else and wondered to yourself “hmm..I wonder if they have ever lied to me?” Or, have you ever caught them lying to you and now always have some nagging thought in the back of your mind about if they are continuing to be honest with you?  Trust goes beyond lying, though.  It is about being able to know that you can count on them.  If they say they are going to be somewhere, do you just know that they will be? Never question it? Or, do you always have some lingering anxiety and worry that even up until the last minute they will either not show up or call you with some excuse about why they can’t make it?

 

Think about how having someone in your life who has a pattern of engaging in behaviors like this can impact: travel plans, money spent on concert tickets that get canceled last-minute, as well as your overall mood as you go from being excited to go do something fun to disappointed and possible angry or resentful for yet again being let down and your plans being changed.  Being able to trust that what someone says is the truth and that someone can follow through with plans and that you can count on them to be there for you is something necessary for a healthy relationship with anyone you choose to have in your life. 

 

So, I get it, there are just some people you can’t just cut out of your life completely no matter how unhealthy they may be (i.e. family, coworkers).  You just have to tolerate some people to some degree.  But you do have a choice about how much time, effort, and energy you give to anyone particular person.  I encourage you to take some time and ask yourself if the people in your life are truly having a positive impact on you or not.  And, ultimately, if you need to, you may want to rethink who you keep in your close circle.

 

To read more posts on friendship see these other articles:

One Tip for a Happier New Year: Make More Friends 

How Is It So Hard to Build a Social Circle?