How to Tell if Someone is Good for You

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Healthy Relationships

I used to try to figure out my relationships in my head. 

I’d spend countless hours analyzing our interactions, trying to figure out who meant what and what I should or shouldn’t have said and what I should or shouldn’t do next.   

It was not only exhausting, but also confusing.  

I could never really figure out why there was this tension between us, or who was causing what, or if things could change, or what my part was in everything. 

I would keep making myself available for the same draining dynamics that I was trying to free myself from.  It’s like I just couldn’t give myself permission to detach from relationships that depleted me because I used to believe that it was my job to fix myself enough to make any relationship work.  

My people-pleasing tendencies used to demand that I spend time with everyone who expected to spend time with me, no matter the effect that they would have on me.  I even believed that whatever negative effect I was experiencing surely must be my fault and that I had no right to protect myself from them, because I was in fact the problem.  

The upside of all this ruminating and agonizing in my relationships, is that I’ve put myself through endless therapy and self-development programs, both as a client and a practitioner.  I’ve tried everything from psychoanalysis, to psychodynamic therapy, to CBT, to ACT, to DBT, to MBSR, to NVC, to SE, to IFS, to RLT, to MBSG – and the list goes on (Acronyms decoded below). 


Today, the way that I figure out whether or not someone is good for me or welcome in my life is so much simpler – and more effective – than ever.  

The way I decide whether or not someone is good for me today is by simply paying attention to my body (instead of my mind.) 

When I am hanging out with anyone – new or old – I start tracking my nervous system and tune into how it’s reacting.  

Is my nervous system regulated, relaxed and at ease? 

Or is my nervous system activated, alert, on guard or pumping adrenaline? 

Essentially, if someone’s presence is stressing out my nervous system by increasing my stress, fear, anxiety, wariness, guardedness, heaviness in my chest or tension in my shoulders, I simply follow my body’s cues about the impact that this person is having on me, and minimize my contact with them.  

It’s really that simple.   

I don’t have to know why, for me to accept that being around certain people is exhausting, draining and stressful, and to give myself permission to either limit the amount of time that I spend with them, or remove their access to me completely.   

Do I still investigate the layers of what might be going on between us?  Yes.  

Am I still trying to become more conscious of what patterns I might be bringing to the relational fields? Yes. 

Do I still wonder about the relationship dynamics that get kicked up and how to shift them? Absolutely.  

But, I no longer force myself to continue to spend time with people who stress out my nervous system, because I’ve realized that spending time with certain people can send me into a wobble and a swirl that can take me off-center and off-course for days or weeks – and I’d rather spend my energy on more life-affirming things.  

So, the next time you’re wondering whether or not you’d like to see someone again, ask your body:  “Body, how does this feel for me? Does this feel right for me?”  

And, if it doesn’t?  Give yourself full permission to limit your contact or walk away.  Limiting our exposure to those things that drain and deplete us is foundational to our self-care.

Happy self-connecting!  

How do you know if someone is “good for you” or not? And what helps you to set boundaries around relationships that disturb you (not in a good way, lol!)?  I’d love to know; leave a comment below. 


  1. Cady

    I love this! What would you do if your nervous system’s activated or hyper-aroused in a romantic setting? (Or how might you discern healthy attraction from disregulation?)

  2. Linda Lee

    I’ve been struggling with this very problem and have been looking for the answer. Thank you so much for writing this! and thank the Universe for delivering it to me in perfect timing!

  3. Eva Millauer

    This is lovely and clear. Yes, I feel most comfortable with people where I can be totally myself. I can make myslef vulnerbale, I can enquire I can share insiights, People I can learn and grow with. People where having a different opinion at times is not a big deal. Listening to the body is the best Indication for me also.

  4. Leah

    who we choose to spend our time with is the single most important determinant of the actual quality of our live. On our deathbeds all that will have mattered is the richness of our relationships. And it can be very hard in groups to know (and we always know and are incredibley accurate, all of us) who we have aversions to and around whom conversation and safety is so easy and relaxed that it flows like breathing. In America, We are all from different cultural backgrounds and most importantly, we have different interactional styles.

    So even if we want to gaurd our precious time, whether it is a workplace or a group we love, if others want to know us, they can feel rejected and Thier feeling so can have consequences for us (such as behind the scenes badmouthing). So the earlier we know exactly who we are, and what we want,the better off we can be to get to those places where we are accepted and actually adore those around us.

    Alas early childhhood abuse takes away so much of the knowing who we are…and it can take years of being chameleon and/or zelig like until we realize “Ah ha! THAT is who i feel safe around!” or “Ah ha! I love the way this person is so direct because I too have a direct interactional style…” So here is to competent parenting that lets kids be themselves early on so that they know who they are and where they want to go.

  5. Pat Anderson

    What can I do when i have uncomfortable feelings being around someone when it”s a family member? they have controlled the dynamics of our family for years. I know I can’t change them. So how do I figure out what my needs are in relationship to them?


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