Soaring or Settling?
A closer look at examining your relationships and handling conflict
Figuring out what’s best for you
We have lots of different relationships in our lives with our friends, family, teachers, doctors, classmates, coworkers and romantic partner(s). Sometimes relationships work well and are easy going, and other times they can be hard and you might wonder if they’re worth it. Most relationships will have some form of conflict in them. This might make you feel like:
Avoiding them or taking a break from being around them
Breaking off your relationship
Putting up boundaries for yourself
Talking about your issues to come to a mutual understanding
Reassessing the relationship
In reassessing a relationship with another person, you might want to consider some of the following questions.
Are you getting what you want from the relationship?
If being in the relationship isn’t making you or the other person satisfied, it might be worth reconsidering how much time and energy you put into that person. You should also consider what you want from the relationship. Are they supportive of you and your endeavors? Do they make you feel validated in your experiences? Do they add value to your life, or do they add more stress?
Are you willing to compromise?
When you disagree, argue or fight with someone, you might find it hard to listen to their point of view. To maintain a relationship, you may both need to:
Agree to disagree
Walk away and take time out
Keep talking about what is important to you, and listen to what is important to the other person
Respect yourself and the other person
Think about what is fair
Remember that having different opinions and ideas is ok
Use effective communication with each other
Avoiding conflict is not necessarily healthy. Resolving an argument in a respectful way can be a sign of a healthy relationship.
How significant is the person to you?
If this person means a lot to you, it’s probably worth putting effort into maintaining the relationship. You might have relationships where you feel you have limited choices. These relationships may be with a teacher, employer, co-worker or family member. It’s also not uncommon to be in a relationship with someone you do not like. You might not like the person because:
You have a clash in personalities
They may have done something you don’t like
You don’t agree with their decisions or rules
They are abusive
If someone is being abusive, you might want to check out the Abusive Relationships article for more information. It’s not okay to be abusive, nor is it okay to be abused. If you are experiencing violence, you might want to talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member or counselor.
How often do you have to see the other person in the relationship?
If you are fighting with a teacher or parent, chances are you are going to have to see that person regularly. This can make it difficult to change the relationship and you might have to compromise on some things for the time being. Even if you have to see them everyday, there are still things you can do to manage.
Are you safe?
In some cases you might feel threatened in a relationship or fear for your safety. If you don’t feel safe with someone, avoid situations where you are alone with that person. Make a safety plan for yourself by:
Letting people know where you are and who you are with
Telling friends, family and people you trust about your relationship, and asking them to help protect you by being around when the abusive person is there
Listening to your feelings, and leaving a place as soon as you feel unsafe
Keeping a phone and transportation money with you when you’re away from home, or arranging for someone to pick you up
Having someone with you or close by when you end the relationship
Talking to someone about what you can do to legally protect yourself
Your local police can advise you on steps you can take to protect yourself. See the fact sheet on Staying Safe for more information. You can also contact the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) for assistance 1-800-656-4673.
If you feel that a relationship is worth maintaining, you might need to be clear about what problems you are having and try to find solutions with the other person in the relationship.
Before talking to the other person you may want to:
Write down a list of your concerns
Consider talking to someone who isn’t involved in the situation—they can provide a different perspective and help you sort things out for yourself
Think about what you are willing to compromise
Think of a time and space where you can talk about your relationship calmly
It can be hard when faced with conflict in a relationship, but sometimes conflict can make a relationship stronger. You’ve tested the waters and know you can survive. Other times, it’s important to have boundaries and to be firm in knowing what and who is right for you. It’s okay if things don’t work out, because everyone one of us is walking a different path. It looks different for everyone, so just because you don’t agree with the way they’re living their life or treating people, doesn’t mean it’s for you to change them. Let them learn their own lessons, just as you will learn your own.
You have every right to live your life in a way that makes you feel loved, supported, and free. If you don’t feel like your relationship allows for that, consider how long you want to exist in that space. If you think things can change, make a plan with this person so that the conflict doesn’t have to happen again. Regardless of your choice, you and the other person both deserve happiness, either together or apart.
Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com