Tips for Managing Challenging Relationship Dynamics

By Hannah Aslin – MAC

verified by Psychology Today

It goes without saying, but interpersonal relationships can be difficult to maintain and keep a strong grasp on. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, but a lot of it has to do with dynamics in relationships hitting a rough spot or running into conflict in the relationship.

Whether it be relationships within the family or with a significant other, we are all bound to stumble at some point in our lives. The key is to learn from mistakes and equip ourselves with the necessary tools to manage the ever-changing and sometimes very challenging dynamics within our relationships.

I’m going to share some helpful tips and tricks on how to manage challenging relationship dynamics that will hopefully help you get through the lows and reach the highs.

Romantic Relationships

In my opinion, romantic relationships can be the trickiest of them all, but that doesn’t mean that getting through tough times in your romantic relationships is an impossible feat.

The first tip at managing the challenges within your romantic relationship is to communicate. You’ve probably heard it numerous times: communication is the key to a healthy and sustainable relationship. This couldn’t be truer in these types of situations. When there are struggles within the relationship and the dynamic shifts to maybe a less positive dynamic, communicating how you feel to your partner could be the most important first step in managing the challenges within your relationship. Letting your partner know your thoughts and feelings could open up a conversation that would allow you both to work through the issues together.

The second tip is to respect your differences. No two people are exactly the same, nor should they be. And sometimes these differences are what make romantic relationships work. But when these differences exacerbate the challenging dynamic, accepting them can be difficult. It is important to keep in mind that instead of ignoring or blaming these differences, it could be extremely beneficial to strive to understand and embrace them.

Finally, take a break. I know this seems like the opposite of the last two tips, but if managing these challenges turns into a broken record and repeating the same ineffective methods, it might be a good idea to take a step back and spend time apart. This break would allow you to reevaluate what you are aiming to achieve in managing these challenging dynamics and also give you a clearer picture of what you want and need from the relationship.

Family Relationships

Family dynamics are always tricky to manage, so challenging dynamics are on a whole different level. First and foremost, one of the biggest tips is to set healthy boundaries. When experiencing challenging family dynamics, it is very important that you set boundaries that are doable for all parties involved to follow.

Making them clear and concise is crucial in order to keep these boundaries manageable. For example, if you feel as though you are the peacekeeper in your family and everyone turns to you to badmouth other family members, setting the boundary of only speaking to family members for 30 minutes and making other family members off-limits could alleviate added stress and challenging dynamics.

The second tip, similar to an already mentioned tip, is to take some time out. If spending time with family members or family as a whole is too taxing on you (due to conversations or tension within the family), remember that it is acceptable to remove yourself from the situation and regroup.

Finally, practice positive intentions. In order to manage challenging dynamics and possibly repair ruptures within the family unit, it is important to enter into situations revolving around the family with positive intentions. Be sure to remain as positive as possible (don’t get caught up in the negativity) and also encourage the positivity to be present in both the environment as well as all parties involved.


It has been found that there are different types of friends who can bring up some challenging dynamics. The first is a friend who is insecure and takes their insecurities out on you. The best tip in managing this friendship dynamic is don’t take it personally. It is important to remember that this challenging dynamic is brought about by their struggles and that they need an outlet. Stay patient and allow them to work through their problems, but don’t take it to heart.

The second type of friend is the whiner, the ones who complain about how bad their lives are. The tip to managing this difficult dynamic is two-fold: listen and advise, but also steer clear. It is okay to be the sounding board for them to vent, but in these situations, remember that you have the right to be honest and give it to them straight. It is also crucial that after giving advice, you start to steer clear of them and focus on you instead of being consumed with the thought that you are responsible for their happiness.

The final type of friend is the completely toxic one. These friends lie, steal, and talk/gossip about you behind your back. The tip for managing this challenging dynamic is quite simple, dump them completely. Although this is almost always easier said than done, it is important to realize that this person is NOT your friend and they are only bringing you down.

Challenging relationship dynamics have various moving parts and can be hard to manage. Always remember that you have the power to add tools to your toolbox and are more than capable to handle these challenges. The biggest tip though: do what is best for YOU and the rest will work itself out in time.

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