Alyssa Woodard

Relationships are vital to our day to day life. Whether they be romantic or platonic, we all need other people. Oftentimes we may need them so much to the point of being willing to sacrifice our own happiness for the sake of keeping these people around.

We may compromise our happiness, money and even other relationships to stay connected to the relationships that we prioritize most. While we may be more than willing to do these things on a case-by-case basis, constantly doing these things often become tiring, and some of the people we’re in relationships with might take advantage of these benefits.

To all the people who take advantage of the kindness of others' hearts:

I am not your punching bag.

It’s easy to find ourselves in a place where we feel like we’re being manipulated and taken advantage of. However, I think that pointing out these habits in our relationships doesn’t have to mean that we should abandon these friendships or romantic relationships. These are amazing opportunities to improve our conflict resolution skills as well as to encourage our friends to grow.

Conflict often can be a test for how strong the foundation for a relationship truly is. I believe that it’s all about the rebuilding process when healing previously painful relationships.

While it would be easy to focus on the negative aspects of relationships with people who may take advantage of your kindness, it’s important to take into account that sometimes people don't realize that they’re causing us harm.

“I’ve definitely been in situations where I’ve been the friend whose been taken advantage of, but I’ve also been the friend who’s unknowingly taken advantage of,” Donterrio Tate, a second-year student at UT, said. “Relationships are so tricky in the fact that without proper communication, we can truly hurt the people that we really love.”

Donterrio was spot on in his observation that without proper communication, no relationship can survive without someone being hurt. While it may be hard to have confrontational conversations, sometimes they need to be had.

Tate continues,” The best advice I could give to someone who's experiencing this is to make sure to keep yourself in mind. While it may seem selfish to be thinking of yourself while trying to fix a relationship. It’s important that you remain happy.”

It’s very easy to put ourselves on the back burner and forget how much we hurt ourselves while trying not to hurt others. I’d like to give everyone the task of choosing to put yourself first this week. Spend time making sure that your mental state is in a place where you can be a good friend to others. You never want to find yourself becoming a friend who only benefits from a relationship and never being the giver.

Remember, relationships are important, so make sure you’re fit to maintain positive ones.

Alyssa Woodard is a freshman in exploratory studies. She can be reached at alydwood@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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