Everyone wants to have stronger friendships with friends, be closer to family, or deepen their dating relationship.
But I get it: it’s easy to feel stuck or frustrated when a relationship doesn’t seem to move beyond the same challenges.
I’ve learned something that I want to share in order to help you get “unstuck”. One of the most powerful things you can do to make a relationship stronger is to change your mindset. While you should not remain in a relationship that is toxic or abusive, there is plenty you can do to overcome everyday relationship hurdles.
Over years of helping families, couples, and friends, TheHopeLine HopeCoaches and I have noticed three powerful mindset shifts that come up over and over again. Be encouraged: there’s a lot you can do to deepen relationships. Big changes in your life can start with simple changes in your mind.
Ask: Are My Expectations Realistic?
Whenever we fight with a loved one, parent, or spouse, it’s often because something they did or said fell short of our expectations.
That’s understandable. Anyone feels disappointed when someone doesn’t come through for us, says something harsh, lashes out unexpectedly, or does something out of character.
But if this feeling of disappointment or upset is a pattern, it’s necessary to ask: are my expectations realistic, or do they need an adjustment?
An adjustment of expectations could mean:
- Letting go of perfectionism
- Asking for help or support from a different friend or family member
- Making sure they feel supported and that their struggles in the relationship don't come from feeling overwhelmed
Adjusting expectations to the strengths of the people you care about rather than focusing on their hang-ups can be very freeing and go a long way toward strengthening your relationships.
Be Honest About What You Can Change
Since it’s easier to see flaws in others than in us, it’s tempting for me to feel a strong push to help people I care about change a difficult or frustrating behavior.
But the only person whose behavior I can change, or whose choices I can have any lasting influence on, is me.
Being honest about what we can change in a relationship is key to having realistic expectations and setting healthy boundaries.
If you find yourself increasingly frustrated, don’t forget to let the person you care about know how you feel and what they can do to help. During your talk, ask if there is anything you can do to better support them.
Give Yourself Space
When you really care about someone, it’s easy to want to spend all of your time with them. This can sometimes lead to friction, conflict, and difficulty setting healthy boundaries.
Making an effort to give yourself space leads to greater independence and stronger self-esteem. Plus, time apart from people you love makes time together that much sweeter. Try taking yourself out to eat, going for a walk in the park, deepen your faith with prayer or devotionals, or try seeing a matinee movie. You never know, you might find a new favorite activity!
And don’t forget whatever difficulties you’re going through, God is bigger. Prayer and faith have helped me deepen my relationship with others when nothing else could.
If you’re feeling stressed about your relationships and aren’t sure what to do to make things better, TheHopeLine can offer relationship support through resources, mentoring, and more. We’ll help you make a plan for stronger relationships, and friendships that last.