Counselling and career development

Manage relationships

Often we find ourselves with challenges relating to our relationships with others. Examples of these relationships include parent and child, supervisor and employee, student and lecturer or husband and wife.

Relationships can be both a building block and a stumbling block in the student experience:

  • Our well-being is linked to the quality of our relationships at home, at work, at university, and in our community.
  • Life can easily get out of balance in terms of relationships and self-care.
  • When challenges arise in our relationships with others, we might call this a “conflict situation”.
  • These situations lead to emotional discomfort and impact our relationships with others. 

Stumbling blocks

  • Students who have to balance their studies with family life often feel they choose to study and therefore "neglect" family and friends. If they choose to socialise they are neglecting their studies – either way, they constantly are feeling inadequate.
  • To the partner, child, parent or friend of the student it may seem as if studies have replaced them, and they feel neglected and unappreciated, especially when they take on more of the student’s responsibilities as their own.
  • If you and your partner are both students, you might be in a better position to understand the demands of academic life, but struggle to find time for each other. 

Sources of friction

  • Time – not enough time to get to everything; too much time wasted on what’s not urgent or not important
  • Responsibility/Priorities – too many responsibilities to attend to; the clash between what’s your responsibility and what’s your priority
  • Unclear Boundaries – uncertainty about what you can or cannot afford to do in your different roles; exceeding expectations from the various spheres of living
  • Role Reversal/Adjustment – an unequal division of household tasks; struggling to cope with new demands
  • Finances – where does the financing come from; what do you use it for
  • Crisis – unexpected events that make even more demands on your time and energy

Communicate and negotiate

  • Communicate your motivations
  • Negotiate your responsibilities with your family
  • Communicate your needs


  1. Learn more about maintaining effective relationships with others.
  2. Use this conversation sheet to reflect on what happened and then have a further conversation with a counsellor.

Need to talk to someone?

Learn more about the support services offered by the Unisa Directorate for Counselling and Career Development and how to contact a counsellor to have a conversation.

Last modified: 2023/08/10