Relationships take a lot of time, effort and energy — but they can also involve some of the best people in our lives.
Here’s how to ask the tough questions and decide whether to fix your relationships or give them a gold star.
Whether the sparks have just started to fly or you’re comfortable with your other half, it doesn’t hurt to assess your romantic relationship every once in a while.
Picture the future
It’s safe to say that women don’t get into relationships just to break up a few months or years later — they take on the “girlfriend” tag because they see some sort of future with the person. When you’re analysing your relationship, catapult yourself six months, a year, or five years into the future. Picture what you’re doing and where you’re at in terms of your career, family and dreams. Is your partner by your side? Do they fit into the future you are imagining? Do they want the same things you want? If the answer is yes, that’s a great indication that your relationship is on the right path.
If you’re the type of person who questions everything — including how your partner feels about you — then pencil in some time to talk. Unfortunately, no matter how well we know someone, we can’t read their mind, so communication is the key to every healthy relationship. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal; just grab a bottle of red and start speaking. These questions should get the ball rolling: How do you feel about us? Do you see us together in the future? Is there anything you want to change?
Get in touch with your feelings
This part of the relationship review is simple: Figure out how your other half makes you feel. Try this experiment: For two weeks, record how your partner made you feel by marking your calendar or diary with a smiley or sad face. For example, if you had a huge argument, put a sad face, and if they surprised you with flowers, put a smiley face. At the end of the two weeks, compare the amount of happy and sad faces. It goes without saying, but your partner should be making you happy more than they should be upsetting you. You can also ask yourself: Are you excited at the thought of seeing them? How often do you think about them? Do they treat you well? Are you comfortable around them, or do you always feel like you’re on eggshells? Ladies, you deserve someone who treats you right and can cheer you up on gloomy days. No exceptions.
To love or to leave?
If you’re thinking of breaking things off with your current partner or rekindling an old flame, there are a few things you can do to make the decision easier. Firstly, try spending some time apart from the person. Then, ask yourself, do you miss them? Do you think about them a lot? Are you instinctively reaching for your phone to call or text them? Taking a break from face-to-face contact can help you realise if you need — or want — that person in your life. If that fails, you can always write a good old-fashioned pros vs cons list.
Lovers come and go and families can drift, but for many women, friends are the constant in our lives. While friends can offer security and plenty of good times, there are others who need to be weeded out.
Check the balance
Like romantic relationships, friendship works both ways. For a friendship to be healthy, there needs to be a balance. For example, if you’re constantly listening to your friend’s love life woes, but she doesn’t have time to hear about your hard day at work, it might be time to evaluate what you’re getting out of the friendship. Or if you’re always the one picking up the phone to organise coffee catch-ups, ask yourself why the other person doesn’t bother. The best friendships are the ones where the effort and enthusiasm comes from both sides and the selfishness is non-existent. Both of you should be getting something out of it, even if it’s just the comfort in knowing you always have someone to talk to. If you’ve got that, then your BFF will last you a lifetime.
“Toxic relationships” is more than just a trendy Dr Phil term. It turns out that many of us have friends who are getting us down. Experts say there are five types of toxic friends: the blamer (who complains and vents all the time), the drainer (the clingy, clingy one), the shamer (who thrives on criticising you), the discounter (who challenges every single thing you say) and the gossip (who gets their kicks from talking trash about everyone they know). When you’re assessing your relationships, keep these toxic qualities in mind. If one of your friends fits the bill, ask yourself if you really need them in your life. If not, ditch them — you’ll find that you have a whole lot more energy!
They say you can’t choose your family… but you can choose how much time you spend with them. Family relationships should be supportive, happy, fulfilling and half give, half take.
Take the quiz
Reviewing your family relationships can be hard because these are the people that you’re hard-wired to love. But families can be complicated and frustrating. Can you be yourself around your family? Do they accept you? Do they judge you in any way? Is there a balance in the relationship? Do you feel upbeat and happy around them? Do they share your values? Are they happy for your success? If there are areas you and your family can improve on, bring it up sooner rather than later.