December 08, 2021

Some tips on maintaining relationships

Relationships can be a great source of stress for college students, especially near finals and the holidays. Relationships with family, friends, partners, academic or professional require time, energy and emotional labor. It is important for us to learn how to keep and maintain relationships as well as how to end relationships.           

Relationship skills require practice. Some tips to remember when approaching others include:

  • Be gentle, people tend to respond to this more than they do to harshness.
  • Be courteous and patient.
  • Be interested in the other person and listen to their point of view without interruptions.
  • People feel better about you if you give them time and space to respond to you.
  • Validate or acknowledge the other person’s feelings, wants, difficulties and opinions. 

Relationships are about balancing your immediate goals with the good of the long-term relationship. Be aware of behaviors that could have short-term payoffs, but damage the relationship. Avoid aggression, attacks and criticism, manipulation and threats, and judgments and guilt-trips. 

Relationships are also about balancing priorities versus demands in life. This is difficult for everyone. Good interpersonal skills are needed to maintain your own priorities and/or negotiate compromises. Sort out what is more and less important, assert your wishes, say no to some of the less important demands and priorities, and offer and ask for alternative solutions to the problem. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff are here to support you and can provide additional strategies to help manage relationships and increase your interpersonal skills. Counselors are available for same-day appointments by calling 618-453-5371, Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from 12:30 p.m.-9 p.m. You can also walk in to any of our offices to meet with our counselor on duty. CAPS is open year-round, except for university closures.