Everybody knows how tricky relationships can be.
When it comes to love, there wouldn’t be so many songs about heartbreak if it were simple, but friendships or relationships with family can be tricky to maintain as well, especially if you’ve picked up some destructive emotional habits over the years. It can be a struggle for anyone in the legal profession to juggle their hectic workload along with their personal life, and if you’re trying to strike that balance but creating unhealthy patterns in your relationships, you could be sabotaging yourself without even realizing it. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to determine if you might be unwittingly ruining your own relationships.
Are you focusing on your own needs and failing to listen?
One of the most destructive things in a relationship is when one party takes the other for granted and only focuses on their own needs, instead of making sure the bond is a two-way street. When you spend time with your partner, your close friends, or your family, make sure you’re not monopolizing conversations, being emotionally selfish, or refusing to let them have the floor. You might want to talk about your problems or triumphs, but chances are they’ve had an eventful week too, and it’s important to be emotionally generous with the people you care about. The next time you get home and see your partner, ask them how their day went. The next time you meet up with friends for coffee, ask about their jobs, relationships, pets, or even something as simple as whether they’ve seen the new Marvel movie yet. Listening in relationships is so important, and when you’re busy or stressed, it’s easy to forget the world doesn’t revolve around you.
Are you making the most out of your time with your partner, friends, or family?
Similarly, when you do get to spend precious free time outside of the office and with your favorite people, do what you can to make sure that time is positive and benefits your relationship rather than hurting it. Going out on a date night doesn’t really count if you spend the whole time complaining about your most annoying client, and if you head home to visit your parents but spend the entire visit on your phone, are you really making the most out of that time? It might be easy to take your loved ones for granted and assume they’ll be there for you no matter what, but relationships take effort, so when you get quality time with your best friend, your mom, or your boyfriend, be as present as possible. Try to forgo screens and find an activity to do or place to go that you both love—you might just create an awesome memory you can look back on the next time you’re trapped in the office.
Are you maintaining open, healthy communication with your friends and loved ones?
This should be obvious, but healthy communication is essential to any relationship, and without it, you’ll definitely get in your own way when it comes to maintaining your personal life. After a long, tough day in court, are you overly critical with your partner because you’re already irritated, and their apparent inability to unload the dishwasher is making you crazy? If you find yourself picking, take a step back, let your loved one know you’re a bit stressed, and try to solve the problem in a productive way. Talking in an effort to figure out how you can work together to both get what you need out of the relationship is key.
Regularly check in with partners, family, and friends so they are comfortable talking to you about things that might rub them the wrong way. You want to avoid anyone harboring any pent-up resentment, which is guaranteed to stop a relationship in its tracks. Rather than keeping quiet when a problem pops up on your end, be open, be honest, and be thoughtful, and your relationships will healthfully thrive.
All healthy relationships include boundaries. Without meaning to, we can often trample on the boundaries of the people closest to us. Remember that no matter how long you’ve been a couple, or how long you’ve been best friends, the other person is a separate individual with their own opinions and desires. You don’t have to be exactly the same, and you shouldn’t assume you can speak for them or that everything they do must align with your own needs and interests. Give your friends and loved ones space to be different from you, and realize that difference isn’t a threat. Controlling behavior is a sure-fire way to sour and ultimately end a relationship.