I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching recently. I’m not sure whether it’s been the gravity of the last few years making me realize that I need to work on myself or I’m just becoming more self aware in general. But regardless, something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year is how to manage difficult relationships that don’t align with you anymore.

how to manage difficult relationships

Now, I’m not talking about those super toxic relationships here. I know that when we talk about toxic relationships, we’re often met with the advice, “remove them from your life!” which although sensible, isn’t always the most realistic of options for many people, depending on the relationship in question.

So at no point in this post will I tell you to just “remove” someone from your life. That advice didn’t serve me and I know that’ll be the case for many others too. Instead, I want to talk about how to MANAGE difficult relationships that don’t align with you, your values and your beliefs.

Perhaps this is a relationship that used to align which just doesn’t anymore. Perhaps your own personal beliefs or values have changed over time. Or maybe theirs have. Whatever the reason, sometimes you find that the people you’re in relationships with (romantic and non-romantic) sometimes just don’t “fit” with you and your soul anymore.

So that said, let’s look at how to manage difficult relationships that don’t align with you anymore:

how to manage difficult relationships

Understand why the relationship doesn’t align with you anymore

The first thing you should do to understand how to manage difficult relationships that don’t align with you anymore is to figure out WHY the relationship doesn’t align. Perhaps you’ve noticed a slight shift in the dynamic between you and you can’t quite put your finger on why? Well here’s where the digging begins.

I’d recommend journaling it out. Listen to your inner voice and get really open and honest with yourself and whatever comes up – allow it. Nobody but you is going to see this journal entry so be brutal. Delve into your relationship with this person, what changed and when and what it is you’re not happy with anymore and see what you uncover.

Establish your own hobbies and interests separate to that person

If the person you’re struggling to align with is someone particularly close to you or perhaps someone that lives in the same house, then it can be REALLY hard to distance yourself from them. Mentally and physically. This is where you need to establish YOURSELF and your own hobbies and interests away from that person.

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Perhaps you’re SO USED to spending a lot of time with them or maybe you have a lot of similar hobbies. Now is a great time to expand and step outside of your comfort zone. Try a new course, start a new hobby or join a new club. You don’t have to explain yourself or tell them why you’re doing it. But find your own thingggg.

Related reads:

Don’t get bitter about the relationship changing

When relationships break down or change in any way, it can be really difficult to deal with. So before we get to the point about forgiving and letting go, you first need to get your emotions in check and remember that it’s OKAY for relationships to change over time. People are allowed to change and you know what?

Sometimes, you’re not going to like it. Some people change for the good. Others not so much. But everyone – yes, EVERYONE – is in their right to change how they see fit. That can certainly be a tough pill to swallow sometimes but the quicker you do, the better.

how to manage difficult relationships

How to manage relationships continued:

Distance yourself from their views and beliefs

Perhaps you and this person have always been on the same page about things. Always agreed on everything. Always had the same beliefs and values about important things in life. Until one day, you don’t. If you’ve found this person has changed their views and they don’t align with you anymore, then it’s time to distance yourself from those views.

Because remember, a person is not their views. However, it’s entirely up to you how far you want to distance yourself from them. Opinions can clash – quite dramatically. So a good way to avoid complete chaos and learn how to manage difficult relationships with vastly different views to too distance yourself from them if that’s going to benefit your growth.

Spend time with them on your own terms

You can certainly have a relationship with someone who you don’t necessarily align with anymore yet still want to spend time with. But the key is to spend time with them on your own terms. Sometimes, people can be too much. And to avoid damaging your relationship, you can limit your time with them and definitely spend time with them on your own terms.

Maybe you’ve found you always end up doing what THEY want to do and you’re not happy about that anymore? Or you’re the one always messaging them to spend time together? This is where you need to seriously think about HOW you want to spend time with them and do it your way.

Forgive and let go to manage relationships

And finally, the most important point of all. Once you’ve established WHY the relationship doesn’t align with you anymore and realized that they have a right to change, then it’s time to forgive and let go. Remember the good times in your relationship, remind yourself of that persons good qualities and be grateful. Then let go.

Whether you continue to see that person or not, forgiveness is key. Bitterness and resentment won’t get you nowhere, so by forgiving and letting go, will only enhance your own personal growth going forward. With or without that person.

Related read: How To Practice Ho’oponopono in Four Simple Steps

I hope this post on how to mange relationships was helpful for you if you’re struggling with something similar. Have you been through this?

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107 Comments

  1. Great points…alignment for me this year has become a big issue to…for me it was my work space that didn’t align with my values and what I wanted to bring to the world. The bad thing is that when you feel in a space where you are not understood you start loosing confidence and motivation to do anything at all…So thank you for this port:)

  2. This is a very great post! Personally I believe that not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to be in our lives. Some people just come to teach us lessons which is also cool lol. 💖💖

  3. Loved this! You covered pretty much everything and very well too! I’ve noticed that the saying “true love lasts a lifetime” is actually true, especially in friendships: I’ve lost many friendships along the way for many different reasons. But there are those who come back to your life even after years. Now, those are your true friends! And whatever tore you apart, probably it was for the best back then. You needed to grow on your own to be better together. That’s me and my best friend 🙂

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

  4. It’s a really sad moment when you realise you’ve just shifted from someone you used to be really close with, it can be a really difficult one to navigate when you don’t want them out of your life but aren’t sure which space they occupy now. Journaling is a really great tip x

    Sophie

  5. This has been such a great read. I’d probably not be as harsh as to cut them out just because we don’t align, but definitely managing it better to create more space.

  6. Ah I’m a cutter BUT the two times I’ve done it have definitely been for good reasons as the situations became so toxic, especially after trying to talk to one. I’m very selective and careful now. xx

  7. I’ve only had one best friendship that’s stopped – I’m lucky to have a lot of great family and friendships x

  8. Another great post. Often times, we find the alignment is out because we have grown. The change has happened in us and that is alright too. Self enquiry always seems the best way to learn what has happened to a relationship. And we have to understand it is ok to let people go – we don’t have to stay, or put ourselves in a position that makes us feel uncomfortable and realising that is not always easy.
    Thanks for writing a very interesting post.

  9. Thank you for this post, I’m so glad there are more voices out there that want to manage difficult relationships. It’s what I’ve been blogging and thinking about as well, especially with all the bitterness, hatred and how normal it is to cut people out of your life. I’m not judging anyone, by any means, but I love that you’re providing other actionable means of continuing a relationship, at whatever commitment level feels right. Lovely stuff Xx

  10. This is a great post with some really helpful tips. I definitely have noticed as I have got older the change in friendships and what I want out of them. These are some great suggestions. I have made the decision to cut out two people from my life because of they will so nasty to me. So I think for me that helped and made my life so much better. Thank you for sharing Jenny.

    Lauren http://www.bournemouthgirl.com

  11. I think managing friendships that you no longer feel aligns with you anymore is a hard task – especially if you’ve been friends for a while so trying to see what happened to feel the slight shift may be hard. From personal experience with friendships that have either slipped away gradually or remaining friends but not as close as before the root of it would have to be mindset/how we view certain things in life.

    Journaling – although I’ve stopped and should really get back into – is a great way to see where your headspace is, and to try to map out the cause for feeling like the relationship isn’t clicking like it once was. It’s like being Sherlock Holmes but working in reverse.

    Finding your own thing is so so important – by only doing things with people and not on your own I feel like that really hinders our own personal development of who we are.

    With friendships – outgrowing a friendships can be a bit rocky especially if you’ve been close for a while. When doing our own thing I feel like that’s when we’re really in tune with who we are and grow separate from the friendship we no longer fit with – but not like separate entirely, just more-so hold at arms length at times.

    Great post!

    Sahara
    https://www.saharasdreams.com/

    1. Hahaha being like Sherlock Holmes but in reverse. That’s an amazing way to put it!! And I agree about your personal development. I’ve spent so long only doing things other people like and lately I’ve been really just doing what I want and I’m much happier!

  12. I love that you chose to focus on managing the relationships rather than cutting people out completely. It takes a lot of work to keep relationships going, both romantic and platonic. Good relationships don’t just happen.

    It sucks to have to make peace with an altered version of a relationship that once meant a lot to you, but like you said, defining yourself outside the boundaries of that relationship can make a huge difference!

  13. I feel lucky that I haven’t really had to go through this kind of thing where someone i’ve been close with has had a negative affect on me. I love that you have gone through some helpful ways to manage those kind of relationships though instead of just telling someone to just walk away from them – it’s definitely not helpful to hear that as it’s a lot easier said than done! xx

  14. Such a good read! I do some of these things but some people have pushed me to the point of having to remove them from my life. Now, years later, it’s ok but at the time I constantly had doubts!

    Rosie

  15. Hey Jenny, I enjoyed reading this piece of advice! I am guilty of simply cutting people out of my life when things don’t work out. Sometimes, I do that when it seems our views don’t align.

    Another blogger friend of mine rationalized it as a divorce over irreconcilable differences of sorts.

    Yours is a more interesting perspective, but I suppose it also depends on how close we are to the person in question. Thanks for giving me these tips to think about. Have a lovely week ahead! 🙂

  16. I think this is an important part of growing up and being true to yourself. Even a really simple Facebook “cleanse” of the people you follow makes a huge difference.

    Helen

  17. This is great advice, especially in the uncertain times we find ourselves in during 2020! It can be difficult to realize that family members or friends have completely opposite political and social values than yours. You can’t really separate from family, so finding ways to connect in other areas while maintaining boundaries is important. Very helpful post!

  18. Wow! This is such a great post. I love how you wrote this, it’s so true. So many good tips on how to manage these kind of relationships. That can always be a struggle. Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. This was a really beneficial read for me today. I’ve been struggling with one particular friendship recently because it’s someone I was quite close with because of common interests and now my life has changed a lot and we’re not similar at all.. but the person is very clingy. Trying to maintain that relationship and be kind and loving, while also separating myself from it … it’s been a challenge. I appreciate your insight here!

  20. Letting go is something that becomes too hard if we think about it too much or create false reasons to put it off. I love your reminder that letting go is healthy and natural, and your tips for helping the transition go more smoothly!

  21. I have had many relationships move on in different directions. You are right, you can’t become bitter. Sometimes each person has different interests or other priorities in their own lives.

  22. This is such a powerful post. I’ve certainly found over the last few years that some of my really close relationships have just filtered out because we’ve gone different ways. And it hurts when you really relied on that person. But you’re right: things change and we have to go with it sometimes. Great post.

  23. Great Post and advice Jenny! I totally agree I feel like cutting off relationships is a lot worse than managing it.

  24. This was a really interesting read, thank you for sharing! I’ve gone through similar things over the years and they can be really difficult to fathom. These are some great tips but I especially love journalling it out – it really helps you come to term with how you’re feeling! Xx

  25. I like that you make it clear it’s not about simply ‘removing’ a relationship from your life because if it’s a family member where certainly feelings are attached like ‘guilt’ that’s not so easy to do. Actually, this has really helped to clarify an idea I’ve been going over and over again in my head for my own blog so really helpful thanks.

  26. Finding your own hobbies and interests seperate from the relationship is so useful. Family are the most difficult to deal with because you cannot simply ‘cut’ them from your life, I found it so refreshing that you say not to do this. It really isn’t always that easy.

  27. The most refreshing part of this blog post was you NOT telling us to cut out toxic people from our lives. Family can be among the most painful relationships and sometimes we just have to find a way to live with those, cutting them off is not an option. I agree with you about finding your own thing and trying to see them on mutually agreeable terms. So helpful, Jenny, as always, thank you xxx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  28. There are people in our lives that bring us profound joy. We need to spend as much time as possible with these people because they enhance our lives. Good relationships are crucial to our happiness. At he same time, there are people who bring us down. It is important to be aware of that and protect ourselves. You make a lot of good suggestions. Limiting the time we spend with people who are negative is so important.

    1. It really is. Some people just generally are “downers” as I like to call them. You can still love and appreciate those people but you have to protect yourself from their negative vibes – even if they’re not intentional!

  29. These are good tips. If the relationship doesn’t make me happy, I usually just let it go. Toxic relationship is not worth keeping.

  30. I think the current situation and all the time in lockdown has given many of us the chance to really step back and evaluate our lives. I know that I have found myself questioning a few relationships and whether they are actually beneficial myself. The fact that I didn’t see them for an extended period of time helped me to see how they were dragging me down or introducing negativity into my life. You have included some great options for managing these relationships and prioritizing our own health and well-being.

  31. I LOVE this! I have actually had to completely remove a close family member from my life because she is so abusive, but you make such a great point that not every toxic person needs to be written off entirely. Sometimes you can distance yourself and see them on your terms and that works just fine.

  32. It took me a long time to learn to just remove people from my life, but I got there eventually and like with all things toxic, sometimes you do just have to cut loose x

  33. Lovely advice! I agree it’s really important to establish your own hobbies or interests outside a relationship, individuality shouldn’t be thrown away! And it sucks when a relationship changes in the way you don’t want it to, but like you said, forgiveness is key!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

  34. God I needed this post so much! 2020 has made me re-evaluate everything and there’s definitely some relationships in my life that just aren’t working anymore, whether that’s down to people’s views/beliefs on things that are very different from mine or something else, I feel like I’ve just realised who I want in my life going forward. I agree it’s not always as simple as cutting someone out though so this is super helpful xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

  35. What an incredibly honest post. I think a lot of people hold onto relationships for the sake of comfort and for the sake of not being alone, same goes for friendships and I’ve seen it happen way too many times to my friends and some family members. It is heartbreaking but sometimes we need to know our worth and whether or not someone is worth spending time and effort on. When I was younger I was very happy to have a large circle of friends but as I grew older, they disappeared but I’m kinda grateful for that, as it showed me who to keep and who not to.

  36. This is a beautifully worded post! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I have had experiences where I have just drifted from friends before. But I like to think I am mature and adult enough now to handle any relationship. I definitely agree that you need to have hobbies separate from your friends and to have these conversations. Communication is always important 😊 xxx

  37. Good post and sound advice. Cutting people out sounds so dramatic and can also come out as entitled behavior. Managing those relationships is far more sensible. I have said no to some invitations, removed myself from groups & chats and limited doing things to please others. I still get along with those people, I just choose yo keep a healthy distance.

  38. I let go of a lot of relationships this year, due to Covid. It has really damaged me so badly that I couldn’t remain friends with those who broke the rules, knowing that it nearly killed me. I left Whatsapp groups, facebook groups and muted some people that you just can’t remove from your life (some family members) and I felt better for it. Even prior to that, I had just outgrown some relationships and that happens in life – it’s a two way thing with no hard feelings! x

  39. It’s hard to see any kind of relationships get broken right before your eyes. Relationship is a two-way process and it takes commitment to make it really work despite differences and conflicts.

  40. I am in this situation and have been for a while and I was sick of being told to cut people out of my life like it’s that simple.

    I don’t want to do that so your advice is so helpful, finding ways of dealing with it rather than walking away.

    Thank you for sharing, I will certainly be following this advice x

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