On Again Off Again

Patricia C. Frank

Some relationships can be like the weather. Many days the sun or the rain are on again and off again. This is tolerable in the weather but not tolerable in healthy relationships. Feelings with loved ones, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and the boss can fluctuate widely and wildly. This is not a good forecast for a stress-free life. You cannot control the weather but you can control the stability of your life. It is definitely in your best interest to take the time and make the effort to have smooth, consistent relationships. Pay attention to the signs of change. Is the sky darkening? Are there storm clouds forming? These are indications that rain is coming. A furrowed brow, a sarcastic tone, a critical remark or a negative aside are also signs that a storm is brewing. You cannot prevent rain but you can prevent a disturbance in your relationships. By the time you hear the thunder or see the lightening it is often too late.

Diffuse the situation. Reduce the tension in the relationship. Find out what is causing the dark clouds. It could be anger, frustration or disappointment. It could be jealousy or insecurity. It could be a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation of your actions or of the circumstances.

Fix it by soliciting the other person’s viewpoint and explaining your viewpoint. Be ready and willing to change your behavior. Ask them to change their behavior, at least slightly. Set new boundaries for acceptable behavior. A major storm with damaging hail and high winds can and should be avoided. Don’t become battered and tossed around. Don’t let them be battered as well. This won’t accomplish anything and may actually make things worse. If you cannot fix it then consider curtailing your exposure and your vulnerability. Do everything you can to reduce the probability of a storm erupting.

Relationships that are on again and off again are exhausting. Eventually, they drain your life blood and eliminate the joy from your life.

Patricia Frank is a Licensed Psychotherapist. She can be reached at 305-788-4864.

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