I once read a quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn that blatantly stated, "You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with." It's an alarming thought -- shouldn't you be your own person, and not the sum of those around you?
However, if you think about it, Rohn's theory kind of makes sense. We're influenced by our environment, which undoubtedly includes the people in it. If one of our "five people" wants to go out on a Saturday night, chances are we will, too. If they have a specific opinion on how to handle a conflict, chances are we share those same thoughts.
But what happens when one of your "five" is someone who just isn't good for you?
"These kind of relationships can be devastating," Harry Reis, Ph.D., a social interaction researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, tells The Huffington Post. "There are just some relationships that can be harmful to our health. They put you in emotional -- and sometimes physical -- distress."
Below are six types of stressful relationships we're likely to encounter at some point in our lives and how they affect our psychological well-being, plus, most importantly, what to do about it.
The Person Who Doesn't Like You
There are more than 7 billion people in the world, which makes it extremely improbable that we're going to get along with every single one. As author Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, points out, not getting along with everyone can actually help you focus on what really matters.
"The more you can come to accept others as who they are, to resist fixing them or changing their opinions, and to listen with patience and compassion, the more you can move forward with your goals regardless if someone likes you or not," she wrote in a Psychology Today blog post.
In order to deal with the people who only find your flaws, Reis recommends focusing on your positives. Keep a journal where you record your values and the ways you're living up to them, he says.
The Person With Whom You've Had A Falling Out
Ending a relationship with a friend can be just as heartbreaking as splitting from a romantic partner. The person who was once your strongest confidant suddenly feels like a stranger. But beware if you find yourself breaking your back trying to repair what's been lost.
It's human nature to hold onto what's comfortable, and that can include the relationships that have been in our lives the longest. The sad truth is, some friendships aren't meant to last -- especially if trying to fix it means sacrificing your emotional well-being. "Seek out other people who are more positive and get better experiences from those people," Reis advises.
That doesn't mean you have to forget the good times you had, but sometimes the memories -- and not the actual person -- should be all that you keep around.
The Person Who Is Constantly Stressed
A little venting is OK, but if you're constantly hashing out stressful topics when you're with this person, your health may be taking a hit. Research shows that stress is contagious. When you're around someone who is constantly strung-out, it can trigger your body's own stress response.
Your friends should help you escape or solve your worries, not create more of them. Next time, try switching the subject and highlighting the bright side. The key is to pay attention to your mood, according to Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship With Stress. "The best way to limit the effects of secondhand stress is to become self-protective of your energy," she told Everyday Health.
The Person Who Always Argues With You
We've all been around that person who is so outspokenly opinionated, it seems like they're purposefully trying to disagree with you. Your view on the economy? Invalid. Your restaurant suggestion? So last year.
No one wants to be in a constant state of turmoil. In fact, research shows that having frequent quarrels with your partner or friends may be harmful to your health, the BBC reported.
"Affirm what's important to you rather than relying exclusively on the feedback of other people," Reis explains. "Reinforce in yourself the things that are good." This means sticking to your beliefs -- no matter what others might say.
The Person Who Uses You
"Someone can't walk all over you unless you let them," Reis says. "If you feel like you're being treated badly, you have the power to improve things."
We don't have room in our lives for people who take advantage of us. Helping each other is one thing (studies even show that it's good for our health!), but if the favors are one-sided, it might be time to address the situation. "Explain in a non-judgmental way what's not working for you," Reis suggests. "Try to engage the other person ... Don't make demands, but point out what's problematic. Then try to find a way that it can be improved without having unrealistic expectations of the other person."
The Person Who Is A Bad Influence
It takes a lot of courage to rid yourself of a bad habit. Reis says that positive relationships keep your best interest at heart, whereas stressful relationships bring out the opposite. "If a relationship is toxic, it's undermining the things that we know are healthy for us," he explains. "People suffer. It could make them unhappy, or the relationship could interfere with the ability to move forward on personal goals."
Don't let these relationships push you down the rabbit hole of negative choices. If they're truly meaningful friends or partners, they'll understand and accept your healthy decisions, Reis says.