Managing Difficult Relationships
Setting and sticking to boundaries
Every healthy relationship has established boundaries that are respected and honored. Time apart, expectations, communication. If being around alcohol is difficult for you and your friend always has a drink in their hands, even after you’ve asked them to avoid bringing booze around you, that’s a boundary that you have set and is not being respected. Learning how to establish and enforce these boundaries is a practice, but it’s integral for maintaining integrity within a relationship. Saying “no” is also a powerful part of honoring the boundaries you have set for the relationship.
A helpful tool for this practice is Dialectical Behavioral
F - Fair // Is this boundary fair for both parties? Is saying yes or no treating that person like you’d like to be treated?
A - Apologies // Avoid making unnecessary apologies
S - Stick to your Values // Does this align with your values and your non-negotiables?
T - Truthful // Be frank, without exaggeration, hyperbole, or down playing.
When it’s time to let a relationship go
Sometimes, we know that a relationship has run its course or is no longer serving us. In this case, we must let that relationship go. This can be done through a respectful conversation, simply putting time and distance between the relationship, or cutting off communication entirely if needed. If you reach this conclusion, allow yourself time to grieve the loss of this relationship. Even if we know it’s for the best, saying goodbye to someone who was once important in our life is difficult.
Navigating relationships, especially when we're changing our relationship with booze, is a skill that takes practice and reflection. But when we’re able to establish healthy boundaries, build mutually beneficial connections, and navigate the trickier relationships we have in life, this helps us thrive in our alcohol-free life.
Neo, P. (2020, April.) Fawning: The Fourth Trauma Response After Fight, Flight, Freeze. Mind Body Green Mindfulness. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-fight-flight-freeze-fawn-trauma-responses
Pitcher, S. (n.d.) DBT Interpersonal Skill: FAST. Nourish Your Mind. https://nourishyourmind.com/2020/06/dbt-interpersonal-skill-fast
Raypole, C. (2019, December.) What Makes a Relationship Healthy? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-relationship#characteristics