There is a song by Taylor Swift where she talks about never getting back together with her boyfriend again. My favorite part of the song is where she talks about the back and forth emotional stuff going on in the relationship and she says, “It’s EXHAUSTING!”
And it’s so true. Some relationships are simply exhausting.
There should be a naturalness (is that a word?) that happens in healthy relationships. That feeling of not needing to talk through every moment of silence, but being comfortable to enjoy it together. That feeling of not talking or getting together for awhile, but not getting insecure during that time frame; knowing you will be able to pick right back up where you left off the next time you are together or speak.
It’s about acceptance. Respect. And no pressure.
Other relationships are so NOT. They are everything different. They are about walking on eggshells so as not to hurt someone else’s feelings. They are about having to perform to a certain level all of the time or live within certain parameters inside of a box created - lest feathers get ruffled. They are about not even knowing or caring what the other individual is thinking or going through, because the relationship is heavily “me” centered. They are about pressure. Emotions. Expectations.
Some of these relationships we can look at and say – why doesn’t someone set healthy boundaries or terminate that unhealthy relationship? But it’s not always that easy. Not when it’s a child, a grandparent, an in-law, or someone you work with. Relationships just can’t always be terminated.
It IS exhausting. It’s draining. And it can damage your own healthy outlook, image, and attitude.
So when you can’t simply move on from an unhealthy relationship, there are a couple of things you can do.
1. You can set up boundaries and guidelines. Maybe not verbal ones – but ones that you decide on in your heart. The boundaries need to be loving but firm. For your own health and well being. I would never suggest terminating a relationship all together (especially if it’s family) unless it’s a last resort and all other avenues have been tried first.
2. You can pray about it. May seem like a small move – but it’s a powerful one. Prayer changes your own heart on many occasions as well as releasing God to work.
3. You can do research to understand the other person more. Do they struggle with insecurity? Depression? Narcissim? Read up on it. Do your research and find concrete tools to help you learn how to respond and speak when in their presence.
4. Keep them at arms length. A comfortable distance. See them when you feel strongest or are in stabilizing surroundings. Bring support.
5. Talk about it with someone you trust. Someone who is seeking, pursuing, and growing in the Lord. This can help you get a different perspective at times and release the emotions that are bound to build up internally. Sometimes it’s your spouse you can talk to. Sometimes a pastor or a dear friend.
6. Remember there are always two sides to every story. The moment we only see our own side is the moment we’ve lost all perspective.
God can renew any relationship. But in the meantime, do what it takes to protect your own heart and mind so that they don’t get damaged and torn down.
Life shouldn’t be exhausting and relationships shouldn’t be exhausting.
They should be a source of joy in our lives. Do what it takes (in humility, love, and graciousness) to tap into that joy. For time is short.