11 Relationship Truths For Tough Times

Relationships—platonic and romantic alike—can be a source of incredible joy, but they can also spark intense suffering and lead to difficult personal challenges.

While some of these 11 relationship truths may not be comfortable to contemplate at first, they will help you evaluate the worth of your own interpersonal dynamics and consider how to make your relationships more satisfying.

1. Some Relationships Simply Serve As Lessons

Not all your relationships are going to be blessings, but they will all teach you something valuable.

Never regret the time you spent caring for someone—there’s always something significant to learn, and some relationships come into your life to ensure that you have better ones down the road.

2. Not Everyone Knows How To Offer Support

There’s an old saying that claims good times allow your friends to get to know who you, while bad times allow you to get to know who your friends are.

Not everyone has developed the capacity to offer reciprocal care—notice who is around when things get tough, and nurture these bonds to ensure you have a genuine support network.

3. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Some people can be incredibly convincing, but it’s worth thinking about whether actions and words actually match up in your relationships. For example, some friends will be nice when it’s convenient, yet disappear when you ask for a favor.

Even if someone says “I love you” a hundred times a day, this means very little if their behaviors don’t communicate this love.

On the plus side, noticing and understanding that some people don’t have your best interests at heart will pave the way to fully appreciating genuine friends or partners when they arrive.

4. Your Life Can Be Improved By Leaving Some Relationships

It’s easy to let the desire to have a large social network and an underlying fear of loneliness drive you to maintain relationships that are no longer fulfilling (or even ones that are borderline toxic).

However, if you spend less time associating with people who bring you down, you’ll notice you feel lighter and happier almost immediately. It’s often better to have a small circle of loving, honest friends than a big group of fair-weather ones.

5. Words Can Wound

Think long and hard about your words before you say something potentially hurtful to a friend, lover or family member. Words can create lasting, aching scars that shape self-esteem and influence one’s future ability to form or maintain relationships. In addition, don’t forget that what you choose to say about others says a whole lot about you.

6. Cheating And Lying Are Not “Mistakes”

When people are unfaithful or dishonest, these are real choices—not accidents that come with no attached responsibility. Hold yourself and others to high ethical standards, and the resulting relationships you have will be much more valuable and feel so much safer.

7. Jealousy Isn’t A Marker Of Love

Jealousy won’t tell your partner how much you love them—it’ll just telegraph how much you don’t like yourself. When you experience excessive jealousy (i.e. jealousy that isn’t in direct response to objective signs of infidelity), this is a sign that you need to do some more personal work.

Whether in therapy or through a more informal process like journaling, you’ll benefit from getting to the heart of why part of you can’t believe you’re worthy of lasting love.

8. People Treat You How You Let Them Treat You

You can’t control the behavior of others, but you have absolute control of what you’re prepared to tolerate in relationships. Draw clear boundaries, distance yourself from negative people, and know you have every right to walk away from relationships when you’re not being treated with care and respect.

9. Removing Someone From Your Heart Takes Work

When you do choose to walk away from someone, you may have quite a bit of healing to do. It’s hard to emotionally let go of someone who has meant something to you, even when you know that you’ll be better off in the long term. Be honest with yourself about the sense of loss, and take time to process and understand it fully.

10. Those You Love May Hide Their Pain

Look closely when someone you care for tells you that they’re okay, or that they’re coping with whatever difficulties have befallen them.

Sometimes, people need you to see through their first attempt to deflect your concern, and they may experience profound gratitude if you’re able to say “I know you’re not okay” and give them a sincere, protective hug.

11. Don’t Settle

Finally, you deserve true love, both in your friendships and your romantic relationships, so don’t settle for something that only feels tolerable. There will be someone (or multiple “someones”) out there who can make you feel so much more, so be courageous and keep looking.