Exploring the nature of relationships

Every day we form and end relationships. Ending relationships may seem impossible at times and can vary depending on who’s involved, the type of relationship and how much of our time we’ve invested in the relationship. We can have relationships with anything in life – other individuals, substances (such as food, drugs, etc.), as well as the world around us. Today, I would like to focus on relationships with other individuals. Before we can fully understand the basis of a relationship, we must be able to define what a relationship is. According to Dictionary.com, relationships are “the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties, countries, people, etc.”

It is often easy to lose sight of how relationships affect us as individuals – specifically, we may feel too invested in a particular relationship to end it, or have a feeling that there is no coming back from the loss of the relationship in question. This type of rationale when approaching relationships is fallacious in nature, called a sunk-cost fallacy. When an individual maintains this fallacious thinking in regard to relationships, it potentially hinders individual growth. There may be no improvement to the relationship, yet individuals continue to try to remedy it. We as individuals have to be able to determine whether or not a relationship is toxic in nature.

When we start to think about relationships with other individuals objectively, we can begin to analyze whether or not it is conducive to either parties growth; specifically if one party is manipulative, but the other is acting selflessly. Relationships that are manipulative in nature are much more likely to be toxic than those based upon sacrifice, but, that is not to say that relationships based upon sacrifice cannot be toxic in nature.

Relationships with other individuals should not be based around manipulation unless it is an agreed upon mutual manipulation, such as the type of relationship businesses have with with their clients – offering services in exchange for something else. It is very seldom in today’s society to see businesses engage in selfless agreements with their clients. These relationships that are built around manipulation can be beneficial for the parties involved, but seldom amount to anything more than that. When approaching relationships with other individuals, such as friends and family, the manipulative intent of one party can be detrimental to one or both parties and typically does not allow for a true loving relationship to be formed. Loving relationships, or love in relationships, stems from one thing – mutual sacrifice between the individuals; not acting with your own interests in mind.

Identifying whether or not a person is acting manipulative or sacrificial in a relationship can allow individuals to determine whether or not the relationship is toxic. If one party is acting manipulative and the other sacrificial, there is bound to be a degree conflict in the relationship, such as the latter party becoming upset when the other individual in the relationship acts in a selfish manner. There are many factors when it comes down to determining the intent of individuals, but we can generally determine if an individual’s intent is manipulative or sacrificial by their actions.

If we feel particularly distraught by the actions of someone in a relationship, the best way to see whether or not the relationship is toxic is to view it objectively. Determining whether or not a relationship is toxic can be difficult when we have already invested a lot of our time in it, but, if a relationship is causing distress on a continual basis, it is time to reflect upon the relationship – specifically the actions and intents of both parties involved. We may not want to know the truth of the situation, but ignoring and prolonging a toxic relationship will increase the distress of the individuals involved.

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