Relationships 101: Boundaries, Dependency and Peace (Part I)

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October 7, 2020

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Relationships are a necessary part of our lives, but that does not automatically make them easy.  The subject was the focus of a recent webinar, where we discussed some of the common challenges individuals face in relationships. 

Relationships are dynamic and can be in constant flux. 

When an individual changes, by default, the relationship changes.  Sometimes both people are changing, which can make things more complicated.  Some other common issues are difficulty with communication or finding that we cannot distinguish ourselves from the relationship.  Described as co-dependency by the American Psychological Association, this type of relationship is a sign of a “dysfunctional relationship pattern.”

To improve your relationships and find a way out of codependency, look at your personal boundaries and make adjustments so they support your well-being.  Personal boundaries are limits on how others can interact with you.  Most importantly, personal boundaries help keep us emotionally and physically safe. 

Here are a few questions that can help you examine your boundaries.

  • What is and is not acceptable for someone to say to you?  
  • Do you lend your things to other people or are you regularly asking to borrow from others? 
  • When someone is sad, do you naturally embody his or her sadness? 

If you find that your answers indicate a pattern of poor personal boundaries, reach out to a therapist. 

There is a line between being a caring person and allowing your emotional health decided by the people around you.  Some people have been in unhealthy relationship patterns for long periods – making a change can be both daunting and confusing.  Therapists can help you identify what is healthy and what has not been supportive in your life.

Relationships are like anything else in life, they need to be cared for and cultivated. 

If you want to strengthen the relationships in your life, not only do you need to make sure you are getting time away from each other; you also need to make quality time for your relationships.  It may sound contradictory, but it is true.  We all need alone time to reflect and collect our thoughts. 

At the same time, it is important we set aside time to thoughtfully connect with each other.  We can take for granted the people we have in our lives, especially if we see them every day.  Try something fun and new together.  These types of activities help build and maintain our bonds, while keeping us out of the patterns that enable us to become stuck.  

Lastly, know relationships will most likely never be equal.  There will be times where we give more and times where we take more.  We just want to ensure that the giving has not become a regular pattern and vice versa. 

A sign of a healthy relationship is one where we are there to support and encourage each other, not to take responsibility for each other. 

Are you interested in learning more about how to take care of your relationships? Join us for part II of Relationships 102: Building & Nurturing Bonds webinar on Monday, October 12 @ 10:30 a.m.   Link here.

Meet the Author

Amy Exum
Amy Exum is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Prior to entering the field of psychology, she graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked in the field of cell and molecular biology. After 8 years, Ms. Exum returned to her academic studies and received a master’s of psychology at Florida International University, while completing her internship at the Center for Children and Families. Ms. Exum has experience in community based mental health and provides counseling for various behavioral health disorders. She has worked in both inpatient and outpatient facilities, and has treated children, adults, families and couples. Ms. Exum appears on South Florida’s PBS Health Channel and is a regular presenter at behavioral health conferences throughout South Florida.


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