Why it's important to de-tox relationships

Technology | Brighten Youth Education Centre 16 Apr 2019

A study by Research Schools International found that positive relationships can predict student happiness, which in turn strongly predicts academic success.

The inquiry examined 435 elementary, middle and high school students. The finding was true across all ages (theconversation.com/its-true-happier-students-get-higher-grades-41488).

This research emphasizes the importance of supportive relationships with peers, teachers, friends and family for academic success. It also underlines the importance of removing negative or toxic relationships for optimal academic achievement.

While it has become fashionable to label friends as "toxic" or "fake," it is important to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship. It is useful to question whether a friend really is an unhealthy influence, or is perhaps going through a difficult time or a significant life change that might mean they're not themselves.

Have you simply grown apart or become bored with one another, and are creating the "toxic" drama as an excuse to part ways? How and why did you become friends in the first place? Was it a result of mutual values, interests and hobbies or was it more of an unhealthy relationship, based around something like a love of drinking or dislike for someone?

The signs of an unhealthy alliance include constant criticism, a lack of respect for boundaries, lying, failing to live up to agreements you've made, different values, behaving in ways that make you uncomfortable, feeling drained or miserable in their presence, struggling to be yourself or relax when you are with them, and an unequal input of time, energy and goodwill. Abuse or violence in any form mean that it is definitely time to walk away.

Cutting someone out of your life because you no longer feel connected to them is neither fair nor wise. You may have missed an opportunity to learn about yourself, practice communication and set boundaries, issues that may reoccur if you don't address them.

So stop pretending things are fine and deal with the situation. Find a private moment to talk, and keep your language free from blame. Accept that you may be wrong, or that the other person might have a legitimate reason for their behavior.

Don't involve other people or gossip. Don't address the matter in public. Relationships are made between two people so be honest with yourself and take responsibility for the ways in which you may have contributed to the situation.

We grow and change throughout our lives and it is neither realistic nor healthy to expect to remain friends with everyone.

What is questionable is if you constantly keep losing friends, particularly if you keep immersing yourself in damaging friendships you feel the need to escape. However, if it is simply a question of difference, then part without guilt and invest in other, more nourishing, people or activities.

If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us: enquiry@englishlearning.edu.hk

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