Look, relationships are hard work. There’s no denying it! However, if you feel like you’re the one that’s always putting in all of the effort, then you may want to sit down. I have a few hard truths about relationships to share with you that we all need to hear.
7 Hard Truths About Relationships We All Need to Hear
As I said, relationships take work to maintain. That goes for everything from friendships to family to romantic partnerships. The rewards are great, though, and that’s what keeps us going. There’s no greater treasure than having a best friend to confide in, a sibling to laugh with, and a partner to share your life with.
The thing is, it should be a “job” that both parties share. You give, you get. Maybe not always in equal amounts, but enough so that you feel like you have a true partner and not just a bossy boss! As you read through these hard truths, pay attention to your feelings. If you find yourself nodding in agreement or thinking, “Oh wow, it’s like she’s talking directly to me,” you may want to pay close attention to #7.
#1 You’re not required to play a role in or attend every drama!
This last year has created more rifts in families than ever before. Between political divides, pandemic stress, and just plain craziness all around, everyone is taking sides against everything. The worst part? Everyone expects you to take their side and throw yourself neck-deep into the drama!
Guess what? You can choose to stay out of it. As Cheryl Richardson said, “Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn’t mean you have to attend the performance.” Simply say, “I love all of you, and I don’t want to be involved.” Repeat it over and over if you have to. If someone in your life doesn’t respect that, it’s on them, not you.
#2 Never let anyone make you feel bad for being honest.
I saw a quote on a t-shirt recently that made me think about this hard truth. It said, “I’m sorry if you don’t like my honesty but to be fair, I don’t like your lies.” If there’s one thing you should never have to tolerate in a relationship, it’s dishonesty. Never let anyone feel like they have a right to lie to you. Even more important, never let anyone make you feel guilty for being honest about how that lie makes you feel.
I had a friend who was dating a guy that would flip out on her every time she caught him in a lie. He’d tell her that she was being over-dramatic, accuse her of spying on him, basically just make her feel like she was in the wrong. FYI, that’s not just “jerkish” behavior, that’s actually emotional abuse. So, if you’re in a relationship like that, please consider getting help.
#3 You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells.
Have you ever heard of “eggshell relationships”? Basically, they’re relationships where you feel like you have to tread very lightly around the person so that you don’t “set them off.” Psychologists usually talk about it when referring to emotional abuse from a narcissist, but it can happen even in healthy relationships to a lesser degree.
For example, maybe your sister is amazing 99% of the time but explodes whenever you so much as mention that maybe she should forgive your other sister for a fight they had over politics (real example from a real friend, by the way). You should never feel like you have to watch every little thing you say just to avoid ticking off a loved one. It’s not fair to you at all. On the other hand, though, sometimes staying silent really is the best thing.
#4 It’s not on you to solve every problem.
Ever have one of those friends who constantly texts or calls you asking what they should do about every little thing? I don’t mean in an “I need advice” or “I need to vent, can you listen?” sort of way. I mean “tell me exactly what to do” way. For every. Single. Thing.
My friend’s friend literally calls her 50+ times a day for everything from “how do I set up my Roku?” to “what should I do about my son’s drug problem?” Heck, she even asks for tax advice, and my friend is definitely not an accountant!
It’s one thing if your loved ones ask for help coming up with solutions or run ideas by you to get your opinion on them. It’s another thing entirely for them to expect you to drop everything and come up with the answers for them right then and there.
#5 You can’t make people take your advice (nor should you expect them to)!
So, you caved and gave your BFF what you think is the perfect solution to their problem, and they went and did the exact opposite. Frustrating, right? Listen, you can only offer advice, you can’t make someone take it.
That’s not the hard truth though. THIS is: if you freak out on your friend for doing the opposite of what you said…you’re actually in the wrong here. Likewise, if you have a friend who loves to give you advice and then gets mad when you don’t take it, they’re in the wrong.
See, advice is just that: advisement. Guidance. A recommendation. There’s no rule that says you have to follow that recommendation. So never make it a condition of your friendship, and never let anyone else do that to you.
#6 You don’t always have to agree on everything.
We’ve actually talked about this a lot before, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again: you do not have to agree with everything your loved one says or thinks. In fact, disagreements aren’t just natural, they make for better partnerships in general.
No, let me rephrase that: being able to express disagreements makes for better partnerships. I don’t know about you, but I want someone who’s not afraid to challenge me, to call me out when they think I’m being unreasonable, or heck, to just feel like they can disagree with me on my pick for movie night.
If your loved one expects you to nod along to literally everything, they say all the time, chances are you’re in a toxic relationship. On the other hand, if you’re the one who flies off the handle every time someone disagrees with you, you’re the problem.
#7 Some relationships are just too much work.
Yes, relationships take work. However, perhaps the hardest truth of all is the fact that some relationships are too much work. If, as you were reading through all of the above, one person kept coming to mind, it’s time to reevaluate just how much that relationship means to you.
I’m not saying you have to cut someone off just because they’re full of drama, or occasionally tell a fib, constantly ask for advice and never take it, or even have “hot button” issues that make you feel like you have to tread lightly around them. By all means, talk to them about it. Share your feelings, clear the air, set boundaries. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to set a relationship back on the right course.
If they don’t respect your feelings and boundaries, if they make you feel bad about who you are as a person, though, then they don’t deserve a starring role in your life, no matter who they are. Above all else, remember, whether we’re talking about friends, siblings, parents, or life partners, you need someone who is in the relationship with you, not someone who demands that you do all of the work while they reap the rewards. That’s not a relationship. That’s a dictatorship, and you definitely deserve better.