Big Life

10 Rules to Determine Whether Any Relationship Will Steal Your Happiness

10 Rules to Determine Whether Any Relationship Will Steal Your Happiness

An edited version published originally on the Thought Catalog 4/21/17

I firmly believe that happiness in life is most affected by the quality of our relationships. We all have a variety of relationships like the ones with casual acquaintances, friends, co-workers, business partners, family, romantic interests, and significant others. Essentially every day we are on the earth we interact with the people in our lives. So, if you want to have a happy life, the question that you should be asking yourself often, is whether any relationship you have is good for you.

Ben White

Having been married twice and divorced twice and having found myself in very unhappy places, I have given much thought about my relationship with potential significant others. I have become much more deliberate and thoughtful about who I date and how I view them. But I have discovered that to really find happiness, I had to apply those same principles to all the other relationships in my life.

When I did that, I realized that I still had many other relationships that weren’t good for me. They were robbing me of my time, energy, money, happiness and they were bringing me down. Some were even negatively affecting my reputation. Additionally, there was an opportunity cost to having relationships that were bad for me – they took away time and energy from relationships that I could benefit from.

While I considered the solitude and peace that comes with becoming a Tibetan monk, I instead decided to use the following 10 rules to eliminate those “bad” people from my life.

You Should End Any Relationship with a Person Who:

  1. Causes you pain more than 3 times in a month: 3 is not set in stone and you can put any low number in there you want but even a person who treats you well 95% of the time is treating you badly 5% of the time. Stop making excuses to yourself for someone’s bad treatment of you by reminding yourself of the times they treated you well. No one deserves bad treatment and there’s no justifying it.
  1. Isn’t adding to your life in some positive way: Yes, these people can be ok to be around. But when you are around someone who is just there or only takes, you are not growing and putting yourself in a better place. And you are giving time and energy that could be spent on a better relationship. Every relationship you are in, should provide some benefit to you too.
  1. Shows they don’t care for you: We all have had these kinds of people in our lives. It’s most hurtful when they are a close friend, romantic interest or spouse. But it also can happen with the coworker who you have helped repeatedly and when you need them, there is a deafening and hurtful silence. Caring is an easy thing for good people to do consistently. Once someone shows you even once they don’t care for you, it might be time to push them away.
  1. Are negative or bring you down when you are up: We all know people like this. These are the people who find sunshine depressing. They complain they must pay taxes when they win the lottery. These are the same people who when you prepare a special surprise for them and then act unhappy and spoil it for you – making you work harder. This is a selfish and small-minded person. If someone finds ways to be unhappy frequently when they should be happy, time to say adios.
  1. Takers: There are takers and givers in this world. These people put themselves in a position of being able to take from you, but frequently fail to help when they are obligated to do so based on their relationship with you. The takers always find their way into the lives of givers and the givers keep giving to them – even when the takers never give. You are supposed to give because it’s the way we show we care. That’s great. But we are human and we all need help sometimes. These people will disappoint you and hurt you just when you need them most. This is the co-worker who you take their shifts time after time and when you have an emergency they will be conveniently unavailable. And they will take credit for your work while you are out. This is the significant other who you make a special birthday for but forgets yours or does the bare minimum.
  1. You don’t like them: How many people have we had relationships that we just don’t like or we dislike many things that they do? Sometimes we even fall in love with them. We let our monetary needs, feelings, physical attraction, sex and other needs allow these people around us. But people you don’t like just drain your happiness and degrade your outlook on life. You should like every person who is close to you.
  1. They can’t take needed advice: They don’t listen to you when you give them advice or follow your instructions and then screw up and then come back to you for help to fix it. This kind of person will continually make bad decisions in their life and will take you with them. They are frustrating people to be around and if they are a close relationship, not only will this cause you frequent pain, their unwillingness to listen to valuable advice can cause you damage. If you discuss this negative quality with them and you still can’t get them to listen, time to cut and run.
  1. They act immorally: This is not necessarily about religious morality. Every human is built with a sense of what is right or wrong. The biggest red flag for any kind of relationship is someone violates your moral code. When this happens, you should immediately let them know and if they do it again, immediately say goodbye. It means they don’t have the same values as you, they don’t care what you believe in and can ruin your reputation – or worse.
  1. They treat other people poorly: This is a simple rule. If they treat strangers, friends, coworkers, family, or any human being badly, that treatment will come your way sooner or later. Best to push them out of your life sooner.
  1. You don’t feel good around them: When you are with them or interact with them you don’t feel good 99% of the time. In fact, when you make 1 through 9 above habit, your senses will take over. Then, when you are with someone, you’ll get that gut-feeling of whether you feel good around them. This applies to every kind of relationship. Just think about being with someone. Does that thought make you feel good? If it doesn’t, most likely they have broken one of the rules above and it’s time to say good bye.

This may sound like an extensive list and it may seem hard to find people that don’t violate any of these principles – and that’s because it is hard. It’s also hard to follow through when you discover someone in your life has done one or more of these things to you. But until you do, happiness will be elusive for you.

Read these rules, make them a habit. After all, don’t you want to be happy?

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1 reply »

  1. Excellent advice on all the topics you’ve listed, naming these takers, users, reputation sabotagers, etc.,
    Again I could not agree more with you, Matt.
    I’m also divorced twice. First time, long ago after marrying my high school sweetheart(?), or an escape from strict parents(?). Had my one and only child in that marriage. Glad she came out of that. I’m blessed with a fabulous daughter.
    Second divorce after 18 years married, (2 years separated), going through hell trying to disconnect every possible tie to a narcissistic spouse who’s a man who fits into many of your categories. Of course it didn’t start that way. It took years to dismantle me bit by psychological bit.
    A huge learning experience in every possible way. I’m grateful we had no children and could finally make the all important NO CONTACT, NO REACTION, that’s 110% necessary with these individuals. (I have a hard time referring to them as human).
    With all that being said, I took a hard look at many others that I’d were friends, etc., in my day to day life that were now so apparent shouldn’t be there. I made a LOT of adjustments in my life and friendships. I cleaned house! I’ve found that peace of mind is much more healing and was much happier without the drama some folks bring with them. I’ve never had a problem or disliked being alone so that wasn’t a problem. I found even more simple pleasures in spending time with my dog, that was already my most often companion, and have made new friends doing the things I enjoy with her, at dog parks, or most anywhere we go together, plus, I will NEVER not use her intuition when meeting someone. She’s never been wrong yet, and she brings me more happiness than most friends or family has in these recent rough years. I do want to share my life very much with someone when it happens, if it happens. I’m grateful for the lousy things I’ve endured in my life now, and can only hope I’m a better person for them and will be ever so careful in choosing new friends, S/O’s, etc., in hopes that at this time in my life I finally know what I want as well as what I have to offer in friendships as well as intimate relationships.
    Once again, great article! I’ll be keeping this one when I need to remind myself on these topics!

    Liked by 1 person

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