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Give to Relationships That Give Back

The makeup of your relationships contributes to a lot more than just your social life.

When I received this week’s “Weekly Prompt,” I knew what time in my life I would revisit to write about. Easily one of the most fun, confusing, and eye-opening times in my life; college.

The first thing to acknowledge is that it’s never easy to walk away from a relationship that, most likely, at one point was meaningful to you. To come to that decision takes a lot of self-reflection and healthy selfishness. It takes a lot of strength to accept that an unhealthy relationship is no longer serving you and to walk away from the significant amount of time, energy, effort, and commitment you put in.

My story is about walking away from five unhealthy friendships at once when we all lived in one household together. For me, the most challenging part about cutting ties with these women was understanding when and what was enough. How long would I let them terrorize me to the point I was uncomfortable going home? What action would I let them take to the point I was questioning if I was being too sensitive? Setting boundaries and loving myself became my priority that I’ve carried on to this day. Ultimately, the way I navigated this was to put myself first and walk away from that environment.

In my adult years, I’ve narrowed my most important, loving relationships down to a small number because quality over quality is the best rule of thumb. Pulled from my experience, when you’re thinking of editing the relationships in your life, here are a few things to consider:

Speaking up for yourself is a form of self-care

This is an ongoing practice for me and something I’ll probably never master. And that’s because my goal is to limit the number of relationships where I find myself in pigeon-holed positions causing me to stand up for myself. The silver lining in those less than ideal situations is that learning to speak up for myself is extremely valuable because, in life, I know it’s inevitable. But I also know that for my personal relationships, I’m in control of who I surround myself with.

You’re the sum of the people you surround yourself with

Being picky with who you choose to spend with time becomes more strategic as you get older and gain more experience but for good reason. Life is short and it’s been said that the five people closest to you are imperative to your growth, success, and wellbeing. Make sure those five people add to who you are. If people are taking away the best parts of you, what do you have left to give to that relationship?

Reciprocity

Find yourself in relationships that fuel the best of parts of you so that you can give everything and more to that person. But what you’re going to give to a relationship will be different than the other person and that’s because of your uniqueness. Reciprocity is not something that can be exact due to each person’s differences but cultivating a relationship and maintaining it is a two-way street. Putting in an equal effort will result in a beautiful, productive relationship that’s unique to both parties.

Just like clothing, you’ll grow out of relationships

Moving on from unhealthy relationships is part of your personal and social development. I learned a lot about my self-worth and what I’m capable of giving to the relationships that give back. It’s helpful to recognize that you’re going to grow out of relationships as your values and passions change and that’s completely natural.

I got a tattoo to commence this because I’m very relationship driven, always will be. On my right wrist, I have the word “give.” When putting myself out there to meet new people and as I get to know them, I make sure I only invest in and give to relationships that have give back.

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