Time to Reexamine Relationships
We asked local clinical psychologist and sex therapist Janet Brito to tell us what we should look out for.
By Janet Brito
The pandemic led many people to reassess their relationships and to place higher priorities on the ones that make them feel satisfied.
Happy and healthy relationships involve being emotionally connected, sharing mutual values, and feeling like you can be yourself and be supported and loved. In my practice as a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist, clients often attribute their happiness and well-being to having deep connections with others. If you’re feeling uneasy relating to someone important to you, it’s essential to reevaluate the role this person plays in your life.
Clients who report frequent conflicts in their relationships, or who are often criticized and undermined, tend to experience low self-worth and generally low moods. Good relationships should provide a sense of comfort. If you’re not feeling understood or feel bad about yourself after engaging with someone, it might be time for a relationship check.
Below are some questions to ask yourself when reevaluating relationships with friends, family members or partners:
• What is your motivation for being in the relationship? Are you in it because you’re afraid to be alone, for financial reasons or to feel good about yourself? Did something happen that makes you question whether to continue growing with this person?
• How does your body feel? When you’re with this person, do you recoil or lean forward? Your body has so much wisdom, and if you listen to it, you’ll be surprised how much it reveals about your relationships.
• Is the person nurturing the relationship? Are they aware of what is happening in your life? Do they show up for you during important events? When you’re with them, are they engaged with you, and do you feel valued?
• Are you bending your boundaries to maintain the relationship? Are you feeling tired and worn out after spending time with them? Do you feel judged and have the urge to defend yourself?
• Can this person engage fully with you on an emotional level? If your answer is no, it’s best to spend your energy elsewhere.
If your needs are not being met, you may decide to walk away from the relationship, let it have a natural ending, or reduce the frequency that you engage with the person. Let them know your feelings. Relationships do evolve over time, and your needs may also change. Reexamining the value you get from a person is necessary in your quest to create relationships that nurture you and make you feel fulfilled.
Dr. Janet Brito is a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist, and the founder of the Hawai‘i Center for Sexual and Relationship Health and The Sexual Health School.