Do you find that some of your friendships “feel” more right than others?  Do you feel like you are being used – or maybe you are the user?  Do either you or your partner have to be more flexible or tolerant than the other for the relationship to continue?

No relationship goes smoothly all the time, but the best relationships allow for this, and people make adjustments to get things back on track.  In some relationships, however, there is an undercurrent of inequality that I’ve never found to be healthy.  Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, if one of the participants has to have his or her own way, or if somebody plays helpless and gets things done for them, or one of the parties is a master manipulator, it’s an obvious recipe for unhappiness.

The best relationships are reciprocal – in some form or other.  It may involve sharing of decisions or accepting that one of the partners is better at or enjoys doing some chores more than the other while the other partner has different responsibilities for making the relationship work, or there may be a rule to discuss issues openly when tensions arise.  These guidelines aren’t always articulated and may not even be realized, but they evolve because the parties share respect for one another.  Poor relationships also often evolve without articulated rules, and then resentments occur when one of the partners recognizes how unfair and perhaps abusive the relationship has become.

If you are in a friendship or relationship that doesn’t feel right, it is time to examine whether it is reciprocal and, if it isn’t, is there motivation to repair it to make it more reciprocal?  If you are the party that feels aggrieved, don’t expect the other person to initiate change.  It may not be comfortable for you to stand up to someone who perceives to be benefitting from keeping you down, but it will be worth it – if the relationship is worth saving (in which case, surprisingly, if you can pull it off, the other person will feel better about it too).

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D. Psychologist, Educator, Author, Podcaster

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D., is a positive health psychologist, coach, author, podcaster, educator, consultant, and speaker. He has been in practice for more than five decades, including 25 years as Director of Psychology at the world-famous Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University. As an innovative thought leader in the field, he has developed the concepts of THE MENTAL HEALTH GYM, GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP), THE TYPE P PERSONALITY, and REJUVENAGING®.

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