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How To Know When To Keep That Relationship

Written by: Kiara Norwood, M.A., Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


In our current culture, we often get much communication on when to end a relationship. Due to so many people and groups being harmed/marginalized, our conversations have shifted to knowing when to “cut people off” and “detach.” This is very necessary for some situations because safety and wellness are important. However, as an alternative wellness therapist, trauma specialist, and coach; I am noticing that people also struggle to know when to maintain a relationship. It can be a difficult decision to discern, especially as we are navigating a healthier era of using boundaries and being protective of ourselves. However, we need healthy relationships to maintain overall health. Healthy communal relationships help us to learn of our heritage and communities, learn ourselves, and help us to heal and grow. Much of our development and growth is done within the context of relationships. Healthy relationships help us to influence our culture and society at large. So, here are 5 ways to know when to maintain a relationship:

photo of three beautiful young women smiling at camera

You feel safe.

We often discuss safety in terms of physical experiences such as no physical harm or physical abuse. However, there is more to safety. Does your body feel safe? When your body feels safe, you feel compelled to stay, sit, and/or be present instead of running or fighting. Additionally, emotional, mental, and spiritual safety are just as important as physical safety. Emotional safety can be described as feeling like you can be vulnerable, share parts of yourself, and know they will not be used to take advantage of or hurt you. Emotional safety is also knowing that you can trust a person not to intentionally harm or hurt you. Mental safety is knowing that your mental needs will be respected and valued. Maybe you battle with certain mental health concerns or know that you must maintain a certain routine to be mentally healthy. Mental safety in a relationship allows space for and encourages your mental wellness, routines, and needs to be prioritized. With mental and emotional safety, you will also feel balanced. Mental and emotional safety feels like equilibrium and a breath of literal fresh air. It feels like embodying a healthy experience and higher vibration. It feels good for your nervous system. Lastly, spiritual safety is knowing that your connection with yourself, your higher purpose, and the experiences/tools you use to achieve and maintain those connections will be valued and respected. Spiritual safety allows you to grow and explore. It allows you to share your findings about yourself, your areas of growth, and your strengths. It gently pushes you to reach your highest self through an awareness that you know yourself better than anybody.

You feel respected.

Respect can be seen as due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others (Oxford Language Dictionary, 2023). Additionally, respect can be described as affirming the humanity of another person. This means respecting their autonomy and rights, not treating them as means to ends, and respecting their choices (Hodson, 1983). So, to feel respected is to feel that you are viewed as a human being with inherent dignity, worth, and unalienable rights; and then to feel that those attributes are regarded, considered, and valued. When you are respected in a relationship, you feel safe because you know your personhood is valued. You are allowed to be you and be loved. Your differences and unique attributes are welcomed and celebrated. Your voice is elevated. Your words and boundaries are treated with care. You know you matter. Your needs are listened to and met with patience and understanding.

You feel like the best version of yourself.

Feeling like the best version of yourself means you feel like you can maintain your holistic health in the relationship. You feel yourself holding onto your healthy relational patterns and positive coping skills, and you feel like you are learning new and healthy ways to be in relationships. Participating in the relationship challenges you to show up and be present with yourself. You may notice yourself being challenged to practice more self-care in the form of boundaries, rest, calmness, stability, etc. You may be encouraged to pursue your quirks and interests. You will feel like you are growing, as opposed to being in a constant state of regression. The progress you have made is honored. Flourishing is encouraged. Being in a relationship reminds you of the person you are and are aspiring to be.

You feel like your efforts are reciprocated.

When your efforts are reciprocated in a relationship, you feel like the other person involved values the relationship as much as you do. They call and you call. You drive and they drive. They share and you share. You apologize and they apologize. They communicate and you communicate. You are respectful and they are respectful, There is a dance you create with one another that allows for trust and knowing you will be seen and cared for. It can be easy to pay attention to the individuals who do not show up, but paying attention when your energy is reciprocated in a relationship is just as important. Energetic reciprocity shows that your time and energy are being valued just as you value theirs.

You are willing to make the effort to maintain the relationship.

Healthy relationships take work. Healthy relational work is not accepting constant pain and drain. Instead, it is the “work” of getting to know another person. You are making the effort to spend time with them and know their likes/dislikes. You are intentionally recognizing the Divine in their being. It is an energetic exchange. You are devoting time, energy, resources, mental and emotional space, etc to this person. Maintaining any form of healthy relationship takes dedication. It is a commitment. Making sure you are willing to mutually commit to the relationship is important. Maintaining a relationship is the conscious decision of all parties involved. Therefore, your willingness to reciprocally honor the commitment demonstrates the relationship is worth maintaining.

Is it worth it?

Overall, a relationship worth maintaining is one in which you feel safe, respected, like the best version of yourself, you experience reciprocity, and feel as if you are willing to pursue the necessary steps for relational maintenance. Please remember, no person or relationship is perfect. The five tools discussed in this piece may not be visible every single moment of every single day in a relationship. That is ok. Ask yourself what the relationship is like 85% of the time. Also, everyone embodies safety, respect, healthiness, and reciprocity differently, so communicating your expectations and ideals around these tenets is important.

Sometimes finding your people feels difficult, but by continuing to grow, progress, and heal yourself, you will begin to attract the people you seek. When you find your tribe or person, be open to experiencing all that the relationship(s) has to offer, happy and messy moments alike. And yes, maintaining a relationship that reciprocates your energy is very worth it. You are deserving of healthy, loving, and reciprocal relationships. Ase’.

The use of the pronoun ‘they’ was intentionally used to be inclusive towards the spectrum of gender identities and was not an oversight on the part of the author or editors.

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Kiara Norwood, M.A., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kiara Norwood, M.A. is an alternative wellness therapist and certified trauma specialist. She is a trailblazer in the practice of alternative wellness and healing for women of color experiencing mind-body-spirit concerns. She is a certified coach, certified level 3 reiki practitioner, and certified holistic herbalist. After working in the mental health field and navigating her wellness journey for several years, she recognized that additional options were needed to help people achieve holistic wellness. She decided to open an alternative wellness practice to help women of color heal holistically and authentically. Her mission is to help women of color live fulfilling lives and holistically heal trauma through the use of ancestral remedies and alternative wellness therapies.





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