073 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Gentleness


The message of transformation is unavoidable at the turn of a new year. Magazines, social media and tv blare the newest weight loss challenges. Many people see this time as a time for change—often for external results.  (Listen to Laura’s episode 19 “Why I Don’t Like Before & Photos for some encouragement!)

Working On The New Self

In the spirit of New Years resolutions, Relationship Helpers made the decision to go deeper than the surface and to look at how we can make INTERNAL changes. Rather than focusing on fleeting things such as how we look and our weight, we will look at transformations from the inside-out.  These changes can impact our lives for the rest of our lives. 

We are not discouraging healthy habits, but we are looking at health from a different perspective.  The changes we are suggesting today CAN improve our physical health via working on our psychological and emotional health. 

Resolutions such as weight loss are quantifiable. The resolutions we will be suggesting are not.  In Corinthians we are told to put off our old self and take on our new self as Christians. 

You may have heard people excuse poor behavior with, “That’s just the way I am…that’s my personality.”  When someone makes this statement, it is an excuse not to make efforts for change. Some people believe that their personality is innate and unchangeable. This is a misguided idea. 

Dr. Rolo May said, “Your personality means the aspect of yourself which makes you effective in life.  It is evident that there are two aspects of effectiveness in individuality.  First, how do you affect or stimulate others?  This is your stimulation value.  Second, how do others affect you? How do you respond to others? That is your response aspect of value. Put these together and that is virtually your personality.” Personality is a relational thing. 

New Series: “A Better New Year’s Resolution”

“A Better New Year’s Resolution”

Our series “A Better New Years Resolution” is all about moving towards better relationship. We have established eight areas in which someone can improve their personality, with the byproduct of improved relationships. You can change your personality, it is just a matter or willingness and effort.  For the next eight weeks we will highlight a favorable character trait and talk about how to acquire it. 

This series was borne out of our last series, “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.”  As we discussed personality traits and red flags during that series, it led us to want to do a series on how people should interact with other people—not just in romantic relationships. 


Our first character trait that we will discuss is gentleness.

1. How You Talk to People

Using “I” statements instead of YOU statements is a much gentler way of talking to others.

Using “I” statements instead of YOU statements is a much gentler way of talking to others. As therapists we often see break downs in communication. Using “you” statements many times is to blame. They elicit a defensive response.

Saying “I felt hurt when you didn’t call me…I was sad when you decided to do…” You’re taking responsibility for your feelings.  You’re not saying “You did this to me.” It’s much more gentle to use “I statements” with others than to use “You statements.” 

Compare these statements to “You never listen to me.” “You’re always on your phone, instead of listening to me.”  These are harmful statements. 

The “I Statement” Formula

Using “I statements” means saying “I feel (insert feeling word) when you…,”  NOT “I feel you don’t care about me” this is a judgment. Be careful not to say, “I feel you don’t care about me.” 

Examples of positive I statements:  “I was hurt, sad, happy, upset, scared, etc. when you…” or “I feel unloved when…”

2. Does Not Mean That You Are a Doormat

George Washington was gentle but he was firm when he had to be.

Being gentle does not mean that you are passive.  You can be direct and assertive with others and be gentle. Using the “I statements mentioned above is actually gentle BECAUSE you are communicating clearly.  You are not avoiding confrontation. 

We can look to historical figures, particularly some of our founding fathers, as models of tactful assertiveness.  Laura mentions how George Washington was able to admonish officers who betrayed him via letters. He was able to maintain civil relationships with these people, even though their behaviors were abhorrent.

Laura and Vincent recommend reading biographies of such successful historical figures, as we can learn so much about how to interact with others through their experiences.        

3. Empathy

As therapists, we sometimes feel like the “understanding police.”

Your body language and how you show another person that you are trying to understand is helpful. You are showing them, not telling them, that you understand. Cloud and Townsend, authors of “Boundaries” said, “Listening has occurred only when the other person understands you understand.”

Laura mentions that as therapists, she and Vincent are kind of like “the understanding police.” It is not unusual for a spouse in couples therapy to not recognize that their partner does not understand.  It’s the therapist job to point that out and help them work to better understand one another. 

That often means teaching clients to “summarize” what the other person is saying.  This does not mean repeating their words back to them verbatim, but using feeling words to show that they are trying to understand how their spouse feels.

4. Don’t Have Such Unrealistic Expectations For Others and Self

Allow others and yourself to fail. People often have unrealistic expectations in their minds, but they have not expressed them until it is too late. When people don’t meet this unmet expectation, the person holding onto that unspoken expectation ends up angry or upset over it. 

When you are learning something or a new skill, you have to fail or make mistakes to learn it well. When you try and “fail”, you actually learn a lot more about how to do the skill correctly. You learn the limits the limits of what you can do. You learn what not to do which is extremely important.

Good teachers are comfortable allowing their students or trainees to fail. They realize that failing is a great way to learn.

5. Work On Your Face

Be aware of the harshness that your face may be communicating.

Vincent mentions that men often need to work more on gentleness. It’s been his experience that many men don’t recognize the need for gentleness and/or how harsh they really are.  Laura finds that many men don’t realize the benefits of being gentle.

They may actually be able to get what they want from relationships IF they used gentleness. Some men don’t recognize that it may not be helpful to speak to women and children the same way as they speak to other men. 

Stay mindful of what your face says.  Keep your muscles relaxed. Be aware of your body language.  Watch your forehead. Don’t bunch it up severely. 

Pay attention to your eyes. Bulging and/or glaring eyes are intimidating and are not helpful when you are trying to be a gentle communicator. 

6. Speak Softly

Presidents have a very serious job.  They have to be diplomatic and create treaties.  President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Speak softly but carry a big stick, and you will go far.” He was borrowing from a West African proverb. One example of Roosevelt’s diplomacy was when he aided in bringing an end to the Russio-Japanese war. 

Vincent feels that gentleness is actually the definition of meek.  Drawing upon the Bible, we learn that a person who is meek is a person who is strong but has been placed in a position of weakness where they have persevered and have not given up. It doesn’t mean they are weak.  They choose not to hurt others by exerting the power they could use.  

A tamed tiger has disciplined power that is held back. A meek person is not weak, but rather someone who doesn’t always display their strength.

Vincent uses the example of a tamed tiger.  The tiger is powerful, but it is not using its power – it is disciplined.  Meek does not mean weak. 

Look how Jesus handled the wedding feast.  At that point he had not displayed his power to anyone.  He was asked by his mother to produce more wine, as the wedding party had run out of it. He was not a “magician” who performed tricks.  Look to how Jesus handles situations as a model for meekness. 

A few verses to consider:  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4.

Don’t Lose Your Empathy During Confrontation

Also important to consider is that just because you are walking into a situation where you need to confront someone, does not mean that the other person is aware of it. Sometimes we lose our nerve due to fear of confrontation, and when we let our fears take hold, it inhibits our ability to communicate well.  This often results in behaving defensive and lacking in empathy.  

If you walk in with a gentle, direct way about you, you may walk a person through a confrontation without the other person even realizing that were being confronted. 

We hope you feel encouraged to be more gentle with yourself and others after listening to today’s show!

072 Dating: Do They Put You On a Pedestal?


We all make mistakes.  People are fallible. Laura jokes that she forgot to turn on her microphone for this episode’s introduction. Vincent quips that he’s given her grace over the faux pas. 

In this spirit, today we look at what happens when a significant other places their partner on a pedestal, instead of acknowledging their significant other’s foibles.  Today’s advice is offered for dating couples, not married couples, as we continue our series, “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.

Knocked Off the Pedestal

Vincent starts with a story about his cousins Phil and Chuck when they were little. Two older cousins were babysitting them one day.  Phil and Chuck were in the backseat of the car talking.

Chuck reads signs off the highway and the older cousins are impressed. He then shows off his skills at reciting the alphabet backwards, rapid fire. 

His older cousins are impressed and praise him for his knowledge. Phil retorts “Oh, yeah, well he eats boogers!” Phil had to take him off his pedestal. 

Let’s Talk About This Unhealthy “Pedestal Making”

Cute kid stories aside, are you putting the person you’re dating on a pedestal or are they putting you on a pedestal?

Warning:   If you say any of these things, or any of these things are said about you, there are some unhealthy things going on in your relationship!

The following statements, although unhealthy, are often heard in movies and tv. 

Some Warning Statements:  

1.) You’re the man/woman of my dreams. (You make my dreams come true.)
“Man of Your Dreams”

Our dreams are ideals, pillars of perfection, they are not reality. Telling someone that they are the person of your dreams is saying that they are not real. If you catch yourself saying this, it is important to recognize how this person meets your needs and tell them how they are good to you. An example would be “Wow, you were being so thoughtful when you…”

2.) You are perfect.

Laura mentions that she often hears this statement from people that she counsels. When someone enters therapy for relationship issues, it is not uncommon for them to start out by saying, “I don’t know what happened!  They were so perfect!” Really, these people were living a short-lived fantasy.  They were unable to see the person’s faults. 

3.) Making too strong of a positive comparison between you and their same sex parent.

Again, this is a common occurrence seen in couple’s counseling. So much friction occurs because this comparison has been made. It leaves a partner feeling like they are forced to live up to someone else’s way of life and they cannot be themselves.

You Complete Me
4.) You complete me. 

We joke about this one frequently.  Austin Powers referenced this classic “Jerry Maguire” line when Dr. Evil said “Mini Me, you complete me!” Even other movies are able to poke fun at how unhealthy rom-coms can be. Jerry is pretty much married to his work, then he begins a relationship with his secretary.  He trades one unhealthy habit (workaholism) for a codependent one with his secretary. It sends the message that people are incomplete without other people and it forces an unrealistic burden on the partner. 

5.) I never meet up to you.

Pitting your significant other against yourself, making a comparison that finds one “better” than the other.  An example in marriage would be making the statement, “I married up.” 

6.) You’re too good for me.
“You’re Too Good For Me.”

In his book “Wild at Heart,” author John Eldredge discusses an encounter he had with a woman who he had given relationship advice.  She had been in a relationship with a man who made frequent statements about her being so wonderful.  He would say things like “I’ll never meet up to you. I’ll never be as good as you are.”  In her maturity, she could see how unhealthy that was and she broke up with him. She was healthy enough to recognize that he was not loving who she was genuinely as a person.  He was loving his version of her— a fantasy version.  He was projecting a fantasy on her. 

7.) I can’t live without you.

This one may sound sweet, but it is terribly codependent and unhealthy.  It is like the parasite needs the host.  It puts unforeseen pressure on the receiver as it “hooks” them with an internal dialogue of “What have I got to do to take care of them?” The healthy counterpart to this is the relationship where both parties complement one another, not relying solely on the other person for certain things. Some couples who struggle when there is an irresponsible party involved may particularly fall into this trap.  Be sure to reference episode 065 “Are They Responsible Enough”, if you need more help with dealing with an irresponsible significant other. 

Results of Putting Someone on Pedestal

1.) Pressure to be perfect
Pressure To Be Perfect

The receiver of the compliment feels pressure to maintain an extravagant level of perfection that creates a huge emotional burden on themselves and it feeds the compliment giver’s fantasy every time they over-perform.  It’s not fair to do this to someone.  In essence, they are wanting the other person to be God to them.  In ways they are idolizing the other person and placing them on a level above God.  

2.) Feel like you have to live up to their expectation

The compliment receiver then feels a need to live up to a God-like expectation. You can’t make a mistake.  It creates so much anxiety.  If you’ve been told you are perfect for so long and then you fail, make a mistake, or don’t perform greatly, it can cause a big let down for the compliment giver and a lot of anxiety for the compliment receiver. 

3.) When they fail, big emotional whiplash for other person

The person that used to believe that their significant other is perfect will be in for a huge shock. This expectation of the other person has created a conditional love. (That is, the significant other must be a certain way to be loved.)

The person on the pedestal will feel that he must always be on his “A game”, must always hit the home runs.  He may not feel loved for who he is. This flies in the face of wedding vows (for when the time comes).  They read, “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad,” meaning that there is no condition placed on our love for our loved one. 

4.) Feel like you can’t be yourself  

You can’t relax. You are not being received as who you really are. You’re performing and putting on a facade. 

5.) Huge emotional burden
Huge Emotional Burden

This is very draining to the person on the pedestal. You must always be “on” with them, continually acting. This is very damaging to a relationship.  It drains your resources too, leaving little energy left to put into the relationship.

6.) You’re taking too much responsibility

Not only is being on a pedestal an emotional burden, it is a physical one, as well. If you are in a relationship, it is important to ask yourself, “Am I taking responsibility for how my significant other feels?”  

7.) Not seeing the person for who they are

This is a recipe for failure. Putting your significant other on a pedestal is not realistic, and when this person fails, you probably won’t have the relationship skills to deal with the failure. It will be difficult to process. 


Don’t let a statement like “I can’t live without you” pass without addressing it. If your significant other says “I can’t live without you,” it will be important to ask, “When you say ‘I can’t live without you,’ what did you mean?”  It’s important to understand what their motives are for saying these things.  

Many times, they are not particularly thinking through what they are saying.  Their statements are often influenced by what they have heard others say, our culture, movies, and even their hormones. 

Sweetie Let’s Have A Talk…

If you find that they want to continue placing you on a pedestal, it will be important for you to tell them that you want a genuine relationship – that you need to have an understanding between the two of you of what that looks like. 

Don’t think that you can marry someone and then “change them.” Having discussions like those just described is a healthy approach to being transparent in a relationship. 

Where Is God In Your Relationships?

God is our ultimate measure in everything.  We are usurping God when we place a human in His role.

Go back and look at “Results of placing someone on a pedestal” found above, and put God in the place of your significant other in each of these instances. You will then be re-prioritizing your life in a healthy way. 


071 Dating: Are They Always Wanting To Know Where You Are?


This morning on the way to work, Vincent and Laura were humored by the song on the radio, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.  Of course the song is better known for it’s catchy and creepy tagline, “I’ll Be Watching You.” Ironically, this is the focus of today’s episode of our series, “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.”

Does your significant other check up on you too much or want to know what you are doing too much? What is appropriate? 

1. Appropriate

Healthy contact is checking in one to three times per day.  Of course, there are extenuating circumstances that can alter these numbers one way or the other. The number of times you check in with each other has to be tailor-made to your relationship.

If you find that there is too much checking in, explain it to the other person. If they respect what you say, then it is appropriate.  It’s very important that the amount you check in be communicated, not assumed. 

Boundaries have to be discussed.  It may look something like, “I appreciate that you care so much for me.  I can best be reached at (fill in the blank) time, otherwise I won’t be able to respond.”

This conversation needs to occur with sensitivity, open body language and a positive tone of voice. Make sure you have this particular conversation FACE TO FACE. Don’t let your intentions get lost in translation through texts, emails or phone calls. 

2. Inappropriate

Constant contact is unhealthy. Another red flag is when your significant other wants you to change your decisions/behaviors based upon them, even when it does not involve them.  (Note that we are talking about appropriate behaviors – not inappropriate/sinful behaviors like sexual addictions, gambling, substance abuse, womanizing, video game addiction, etc.)

In essence, they are controlling you. If they make demands such as telling you not to spend time with your friends or family or demand that you should not participate in certain healthy activities, they very well could be controlling you. Other examples may be, “You should only drive this route…” or go this way home. 

If you have communicated what is acceptable and they continue to contact too much or not respect your boundaries, it is inappropriate. They may not be a healthy choice for you.

3. Controlling Behavior

The person experiencing controlling behavior is emotionally burdened. There is no freedom.  The controller eliminates all of the healthy options from their loved one.

The controlling behavior creates an unhealthy dependence upon the controller. In these types of abusive relationships, it’s not uncommon for the controlling person to alienate their significant other from good, healthy influences.

They limit the decisions you can make.  They are taking your power away. This is terribly unhealthy. You’re losing YOURSELF in this relationship.

4. Possessive Behavior

Vincent gives the example of a single dad playing video games with his child. He’s focused on what he’s doing and does not notice that his girlfriend has texted him as his phone has fallen in-between the seat cushions of his couch. 

Of course, he plays the video game, and has a good time for a few hours.  Because he did not respond to the text she sent him, his girlfriend continues to text him. She breaks up with him during this barrage of texts that he has not even seen.  

A lot of assumptions took place in this scenario. And much of the unhealthiness centers around thinking that you’re supposed to be glued at the hip if not always in touch. 

Often possessive behavior could be accompanied by physical abuse or could lead to physical abuse. Those in these relationships feel isolated and trapped, whether or not they want to admit it.  

Healthy relationships are marked by trust.  It’s trusting that you believe your significant other when they say that they are doing what they say they are doing. It’s not putting tracking devices on vehicles. 


This series is geared specifically to those in DATING relationships or for parents who are preparing themselves for the day that their child begins to date.

We hope that you have found today’s episode helpful!  Check out next week’s episode when we talk about the pitfalls of being put on a pedestal in a relationship.

070 Dating: Do They Apologize?



Welcome to Relationship Helpers!  If you are joining us for the first time today, you are catching us in the midst of our dating series, “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.”  Today we discuss if your significant other apologizes and changes their behavior after their apology. Your hosts, Vincent and Laura, are marriage therapists and have been married thirteen years.


Laura begins with a situation that happened just last night.  Vincent arrived home after each of them had a L-O-N-G day.  He greets Laura with a hurried, Hi, I love you. DID YOU GET THE MAIL?” Laura was upset by his obvious agenda. 

It seemed more important to ask her about the mail than to wish her a warm, affectionate greeting. Vincent explains that there had been a few evenings where the garage door was left open because he had forgotten to shut it because Laura had already gotten the mail, and that was why he greeted her the way he did. 

Laura encourages Vincent to consider how he would have felt if he were in her shoes.  Vincent is able to reflect how disingenuous the greeting would sound to him. 

Even though the Relationship Helpers are marriage therapists, they still have to work on communication—especially in moments where they are tired! Vincent notes how we addressed the situation last night and how because we are able to communicate our feelings, it did not become a cause for resentment later. 


In coming up with this episode, Vincent and Laura had trouble coming up with situations where they had offenses against one another because they have become adept at communicating well when their feelings have been hurt. This means a lot of conflict resolution skills have been acquired. 

It has not happened overnight, however.  If you had interviewed them earlier in their marriage, it would be a totally different story. You can overcome conflict by learning how to communicate more clearly. 

Do They Apologize?

The ability to apologize and change behavior after the offense; to improve interactions later, is important.  Is your mate FAT (Faithful, Attentive, Teachable)?  This is an old acronym about how to be a good disciple, but this also makes a good spouse.


Self-Assessment Barometer

Laura mentions how there has been a shift in focus by educators and parents towards self-esteem in children and how that it has backfired. It’s created a false sense of self. Rather than improving character, it has created a few generations of people lacking in empathy. 

As a result, we have a large population of people unable to be in healthy relationships. Kids grow into adults who have not been given a measured sense of reality. They’ve not been given opportunities to learn from failure.

Instead of always praising them, they need healthy, constructive criticism so that they can learn to measure themselves, rather than thinking they are the greatest at everything they do. (Say bye-bye to participation trophies!)  Then they will learn how to accurately assess themselves, having developed a barometer for their performance and abilities.


Steps of an Apology

How does this pertain to apologizing?  When you are able to be self-critical in a non-judgmental way, you’re able to 1.) recognize when you’ve hurt someone, 2.) accept it, 3.) acknowledge it, 4.) be direct with the person you’ve hurt, 5.) explain how you’ve done it, and then 6.) show them how you’re going to change so it does not happen again.

These different components of an apology get lost in someone who has not learned to accept their failures and mistakes. 

Why Don’t People Apologize?



Pride— It can be particularly difficult for men to admit they are wrong.  They are afraid they will lose respect. Men really value respect. Men have a fear of being controlled. They feel like they have to be “big decision-maker”, not asking for help as should. (Think the man who won’t ask for directions.) 

It is difficult for women to admit they are wrong because may feel that they are losing control. They may be afraid of being “used.”

Another Therapist In The Wrong

Vincent references the book “Making Magnificent Marriages” by Dr. Jared Pingleton.  In it, Dr. Pingleton describes a time where he is watching a baseball game on tv. His wife approaches him and begins to talk. She is upset as he did not appear to hear her (he did not look at her while she was talking.)  Afterwards, Dr. Pingleton told her what she said verbatim.  During the next game, he had to prove a point to her.  He put two tvs together and watched two games at once.  He kept box score tallies up for both games at the same time to show her he was able to pay attention to two things at once.  

Ladies hearing this will find this absurd and can understand Ms. Pingleton’s continued dismay. Dr. Pingleton didn’t get the point—he obviously does now, as he is a couple’s therapist and is an expert on communication and sees the errors of his ways!  In other words, he learned that his body language needed to be validating to her. First, he had to get past his pride that he could prove to her that he could listen to her and a baseball game at the same time. 

Loss Of Respect?

For men, apologizing can really feel like a loss of respect.  For women, however, apologizing feels like they are losing control.  Women have a tendency to be more on top of keeping home-life together, and don’t like it if they don’t seem “put together.” They may take it to heart, feeling that they are a bad mother or bad wife. 

Another reason some women struggle with apologizing is that they have experienced trauma or have been “burned” in other relationships.  Sometimes this means they hide behind this tough facade to hide any sense of vulnerability.


Women Need To Hear “I’m sorry”

“Women need to hear “I’m sorry.” They are wired to need “peace” in the relationship. They need resolution between parties.  There is a biological difference in how women are “wired.” Generally speaking, men are built with greater upper body strength and larger statures. 

In the Bible it says that violent men take by force. Men have a tendency to do more damage. However, Dr. Jordan Petersen says that women are more likely to be aggressive in relationships.  When a man is aggressive, it’s likely to be more damaging.

World Is More Dangerous For Women

The world is more dangerous for women.  Laura describes a message that went viral recently on social media.  A sociologist stood in front of a white board and asked a large room full of men what they do to avoid getting sexually assaulted.  The room was quite for a moment. One person jokingly stated, “Don’t go to prison.” That was their only answer. 

The sociologist asked the same question to a room full of women, and the women completely filled his white board up with things women do to prevent sexual assault. Women face the threats of pregnancy and many times the results of STDs are more damaging to women. 

Female Nervous Systems Not Adapted For Women, But For Babies

Further, women’s nervous systems are adapted to the survival of babies. it’s meant to help them communicate with the infant. Women are sensitive to environmental threats in order to care and protect children. Women are the emotional barometers of relationships. They need their partners to be vulnerable. 


Some people “over-apologize”. It can be received much like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Apology Worn Out

The value of the apology lessens when someone apologizes too much.  Over-apologizing may be a habit, but to the listener, resentment builds because these apologies seem meaningless.

Consider Other’s View Point

They need to consider how the other person feels about hearing so many apologies. In other words, they need to put themselves in the shoes of the person who hears all of these apologies.  Also, they need to re-evaluate their apologies based on whether they are actually changing their behavior after the apology.  


Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution—If you’re dating someone who is unable to apologize and/or unable to change their behavior after an apology, it is a predictor that the future of your relationship is troubled.

Understanding Where They Are Right & Where They Are Wrong

If they apologize, they can recognize their part in the conflict. Maybe the fact was right, but method of presenting wrong. A “right” apology means changed behavior. 

Address The Concern

If there is a lack of apology and/or changed behavior, it will be important to address it.  Starting a conversation with “I’ve noticed that when I tell you that you’ve said something to hurt my feelings you don’t change that…” 

How your partner responds to this conversation could tell you how teachable they are—how willing they are to bend.  Ask yourself “Should I be in a relationship with a person who is unwilling to be in a healthy relationship?” 

Be ready to say I’m not ready to make this a committed relationship until changes are made. Be prepared for your mate to continue to make mistakes after apologies. Having the conversation about apologies and changed behaviors is an ongoing thing. It is not something that happens once and is perfected. 


If you’re dating or a parent anticipating the dating years for your child, we hope that you’ve gained some new tips and insights into this very important topic. Be sure to check into our next episode when we discuss when your boyfriend or girlfriend excessively checks up on you.

069 Dating: How Are Their Friendships?


Songs have been written about them, tv shows have been named after them;  we’re talking about friends. Vincent’s teenage niece watches “Friends” and his seventy-nine year old father watches it, too.  There are some timeless truths to the show.  It speaks to relationships and who we are as people.

This is the 5th episode in our series 8 Warning Signs That You Might Need To Break Up. Today we dive into what a person’s friendships say about who they are as a person, and if these relationships are good indicators that they would be good to date.

What are their friendships like?  

What Are the Warning Signs of Unhealthy Relationships?

It is important to know how your significant other relates to friends, as this behavior could translate to how they relate and interact with you. 

1. No friends
No Friends

If they don’t have friends, that’s a big concern. They will rely solely on you to get all of their emotional and social needs met, which is very unbalanced.  That’s a terrible burden to put on a mate. Having no friends is also an indicator of a lack of social skills.

In more extreme instances, a lack of friends could mean that the person suffers from a personality disorder, such as Anti-social Personality Disorder.  If that’s the case, it may be nearly impossible to be in a relationship with this person. Beware of someone who refuses to see that they have issues or problems.  People with personality disorders rarely reach out for help because they do not see that they have problems—everyone else is the problem, not them.

In less severe situations, you may want to address the what you are seeing, with sensitivity.  Begin with, “I’ve noticed that you avoid being in social situations…” rather than “You” statements. Sometimes someone struggling with a trauma background engage in self-protection behaviors that prevent them from seeking social situations. 

2. They are a fair weather friend.
Fair Weather Friends

What does this say about how they will be with you?  It’s a strong indicator that they are disloyal, and will run away when things are difficult. Consider that this person could be the same person uttering “in sickness and in health” during their wedding vows.  Does their behavior reflect that they would follow through with these vows?

3. They are a people-pleaser friend (they attract toxic people).

This one is subtle and many people trip up on it. People-pleasers tend to attract toxic people.  The people-pleaser gives and gives and gives and never says ‘no’.  They attract needy people, users, who take advantage of them. They feel, guilt, however, if they do not provide for the toxic person’sdemands.  Then they feel resentment for how their own needs aren’t being met.   

If you’re dating a people-pleaser, they may not have the time to give your relationship as they are too busy tending to other peoples’ toxicities.  They cannot provide you a healthy, balanced amount of time and attention as they are too busy not saying ‘no’ to others who drain their emotional energy. Their ability to be “present” with you will be lacking. 

4. Only have short-term friendships.
Short-Term Friendships

This person could get too close too quick and then conflict happens and they run or push them away. Many times those suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are charismatic, drawing people, towards them, but do not have the ability to maintain relationships as they are not able to be supportive of others. 

Vincent suggests being especially wary of someone who has lived in the same area for a long time and yet they have only had short-term friendships. What happened to the relationships from ten years ago?  Why didn’t those last if you didn’t move?


1. Supportive of their friends and their friends are supportive of them—can share with each other.
Supportive Friends

This person is able to be excited for other people’s good news, but also share concerns.  They are able to celebrate through the good times, and support during the difficult times. This person shows that they care, whether that is being there during a funeral, attending a shower, or bringing food during a difficult time.

2. Long-term friendships.

Having long-term friendships is a good indication of stability and healthy relationships. This means that they have stuck with their friend through the good and bad times. It shows loyalty.

3. Spend balanced amount of time with friends (positive, not all negative).
Long-Term Friendships

Their priorities may be in question if there is an imbalance in time spent with friends.  This means that their time spent with friends is not continually infringing on family time. It is healthy to set aside time to hang out with friends, but it should be planned and in accordance with the family needs.

The time spent with friends should include positive and negative moments. This means that there are times that you hang out and have a good time, but also that you comfort them and attend the funeral of their parents or someone close to them when appropriate.

4. Different types of friends—from different spheres/groups.
Friends From Different Spheres

If someone has friends in various places, it is a good indication that they are good at making friends and could possibly have a healthy social life.  As a side note, Laura mentions how bullying has had a lot of attention lately, and that much of it stems from an important missing factor:  friends in various places.  Children are less likely to be bullied when they have friends in multiple settings.  They are more well-rounded.

5. Able to resolve conflict.
Forgiving and Resolving Conflict

If they are able to have differing opinions, discuss it, and come out on the other side and still be friends, it is a great indication that the person you are dating has healthy conflict resolution skills.  This doesn’t mean you avoid conflict, but that you are able to talk it through. 


Today’s episode encourages you to examine your significant other’s relationships with others.  How they relate to others is a pretty strong indication of how they will relate to you as a future spouse.  Hopefully today’s topic also stirred up some questions you may need to ask yourself about you and your own friendships. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, the fifth part in an eight part series “Eight Warning Signs You May Need to Break Up.”