Most people know the power of friendships in their lives. Whether we realize it or not, we’re often guided by our friendships in our quest for happiness and success. Sometimes our friends give us advice, help us out with suggestions, or even just provide a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong.

And yet, there are times when our friends don’t feel like they can relate to us. For those who are dating or in relationships, there can be a difference in how your friendship with your partner affects the way you interact with the world. What’s more, you might not even know how your partnership and friendship with your partner is going to affect your children in the future. Even in our best relationships, there can be uncertainty about what kind of example we’re setting for our kids, especially when it comes to money and material possessions.

Whether you’re in a committed, long-term relationship or have just started dating, you’re bound to encounter situations where your friends don’t know how to relate to you. It’s important to understand why this happens, so you can work on fixing it. Fortunately, there are distinct stages to a relationship—and they correspond to different personality types. These stages can help you identify what is causing your friendships with people to deteriorate and how you can bring them back to the healthy place they once were. Let’s take a look.

The Complacent Friend

People tend to become complacent in their friendships once they’ve established them. Sometimes this happens because they don’t want to jeopardize what they already have. When you feel safe and comfortable around your friends, you’re less likely to challenge them or try new things, because you don’t want to risk ruining what you’ve built.

Sometimes, however, it happens because we don’t want to admit to ourselves how much our friends mean to us. We might not feel comfortable expressing our feelings in front of them, so we keep everything bottled up. As a result, our friendships become a little dull. We tend to talk about the same topics over and over again, and we stop challenging each other, because admitting you’re wrong is not something we want to do. This is why it’s important to be comfortable with your friends. They’re going to help you identify things you’re doing wrong, and they can help you improve yourself. Your friends are your best bet for happiness and success. Don’t be afraid to show them you care.

The Self-sufficient Friend

Some people are naturally more independent than others. They don’t need to be told what to do or how to act, so their friends often don’t like getting close to them. The most independent people are usually the ones we love the most, because they allow us to be our best self. This can make it really difficult to be around them, as we’re constantly comparing ourselves to who they are.

Independence is a double-edged sword. While it can make us closer to our friends, it can also cause us to keep our feelings to ourselves and not burden our friends with our problems. The more independent we are, the more we might avoid conflict, as we’re rarely at odds with each other. This is why it’s important to be aware of the kind of friends you have, and whether or not they’re going to hinder your growth as an individual. A good friend will push you to be your best, won’t be afraid to tell you when you’re doing something wrong, and won’t try to control your actions. When you find yourself in a healthy, independent relationship, it can be really great. Just remember that some of your friends might not feel comfortable being around someone who isn’t dependent on them.

The Loyal Friend

When you’re in a relationship, you might find yourself more concerned with what your partner thinks about you than with your own opinions. After all, your opinions don’t matter as much, if your partner doesn’t agree with you. This type of friendship can be really damaging to your self-confidence. You’ll start to believe that your partner doesn’t see you as an independent individual, but as a reflection of their own sensibilities.

This type of friendship is probably the least desirable of the three, as it doesn’t promote healthy development. Instead of challenging each other, you end up agreeing with each other most of the time, which makes it really dull. A loyal friend might be the kind who will never admit they’re wrong, even when they question your decisions or values. If you find yourself in a long-term relationship with this type of friend, make sure you’re aware of why this is the case and work on changing it. Don’t be afraid to have disagreements with your partner, as this will make you stronger individuals and, ultimately, better partners. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our opinions aren’t as important as our actions. A loyal friend will remind you of this repeatedly, so you don’t end up becoming too reliant on their approval.

The Resentful Friend

So far, we’ve discussed the damage that complacency and self-sufficiency can cause. But there is also the potential for resentment. Resentment is the opposite of joy; it’s an emotion that stems from a feeling of disharmony or injustice. When we’re resentful of our friends, we can’t experience true bliss or satisfaction. It’s similar to when we’re anxious about our friendships or feel that they’re deteriorating—but in a different way.

There are a few reasons why our friends might cause us to feel resentful. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t feel that we respect them enough. We might not show them enough appreciation, and so we feel a sense of resentment when they don’t get enough attention or respect from us. Sometimes it’s because they don’t give us the advice or help we need when we need it. Or maybe they’re just not there for us when we need them, which can make us feel like they don’t care as much as we think they do.

Resentment is like a cancer. It eats away at our heart, making us feel bad about ourselves. It prevents us from being at peace and blocks the joy that could otherwise come from being with our friends. Resentment can make us want to cut our ties with our friends, or at least, change the way we interact with them. But if we want to keep our friendships, we have to learn to deal with our resentment—as difficult as this might be.

How to Deal With Difficult Friendships

No matter what type of friend you have, it’s important to be aware of the effects of this friendship, so you can deal with it effectively. When we’re not, we can become insensitive to the issues that arise from our relationships, as well as the effect that our behavior has on our friends. This can lead us to make poor choices and hurtful decisions. If you want to preserve the healthy state of your friendships, you need to be proactive about dealing with this issue. This is especially important if you’re in a long-term relationship, as you’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life, together.

One way to approach this is by asking your friends questions about your partnership. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about this issue, try asking other friends, family members, or even complete strangers. Sometimes, this can help us find the root of the problem. Sometimes, they might not even understand why our friendship is problematic—so by getting someone else’s opinion, we can explain better what is going on.

Another way to deal with difficult friendships is by simply being more sensitive. When you’re in a difficult situation, it’s easy to slip into the habit of reacting without thinking. But this will only cause you more pain in the long run. Instead, take a few deep breaths, and try to understand your friends’ perspectives, even if they are different from your own. If we’re always trying to push our opinions on others, we might make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe, even though this was not our intention. Instead of getting angry or defensive, we could try to see things from their point of view. This will help us understand why they act the way they do and give us the chance to correct course, before it’s too late.

Dealing with our friends takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. We should try to keep our friendships as healthy as possible, for the sake of our own growth and development. When we want to change something about ourselves, we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. We need to be mindful of this and work hard to overcome our mistakes. But sometimes problems arise from outside of ourselves. We might not be at the root of the issue, but it’s still important to address, so it doesn’t affect our relationships. When we’re aware of this, we can be more proactive about fixing it. Sometimes, this can mean apologizing and making amends. Other times, it might mean completely cutting ties with this person—even if we still want to be friends.