The relationships you build in your life are important to your overall health. Developing and maintaining healthy relationships will ensure you have a healthy circle of friends, co-workers, family, and love life. These aspects all contribute to your social life, which can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
In this article, we’re exploring how to build healthy replationships and why they’re important to your health.
How to Build Healthy Relationships
It is interesting that one of the most basic characteristics of being human can also be one of the most difficult to master. Humans are social creatures, and our dependence on social ties is what has allowed us to progress through our Homosapien timeline for as long as we have. In spite of this track record for getting along with others, modern humans can end up reaching adulthood finding ourselves woefully ill-equipped for the task of forming healthy social ties.
Whether our difficulties in finding and maintaining healthy relationships stem from poorly structured guidance during childhood, specific traumatic events, or ongoing mental health issues, there is always the possibility of growing in social smarts. Learning to build healthy relationships is one of the most important self-care pursuits that we can engage in. Give yourself the gift of healthy connections by applying the following guidelines during your relationship interactions.
Here’s how to build healthy replationships.
The old adage of having to be a friend in order to find a friend is still true. Before we can begin to recognize what types of relationships will be healthy and beneficial, it is important that we take stock of our own relationship offerings. What we bring to the relationship table goes a long way toward defining the types of reciprocity we can expect. For a fun and informative way to become cognitively acquainted with your own personality bends and relationship needs, try the free personality screen available at 16personalities.
Foster Emotional Connection
Not everyone is on the same level when it comes to emotional expression and needs, but the overwhelming majority of humans do have emotions. Our emotions are designed to give us a clue about our sense of belonging and safety in the world. Making sure that our relationships involve pleasant emotions – such as peace, joy, and curiosity – for all parties is an important aspect of sustaining a loving relationship. We need to feel safe to grow and develop our connections.
Make Room for Respectful Disagreements
Life is not always roses, and our relationships can’t be expected to continually produce positive feelings. Believe it or not, successful relationship growth also requires the experience of some uncomfortable feelings. Part of developing and maintaining a healthy relationship involves allowing space for friends and partners to disagree with our mannerisms or perspectives. Working through these types of arguments, using respect and tact, will actually make your relationships stronger.
Focus on Mutual Benefit
There is often an emphasis on compromise when it comes to matters of relationship, but finding that elusive middle ground may not always be the best goal. Rather than seeking a path where each person has to give up something in order to make it work, learn to be creative in finding solutions where the needs of both parties are met. This contrast to compromise is known as a win-win situation, and it is the ideal outcome of relationship conflicts.
Listen With Empathy
It is a common misconception to consider that empathy means feeling sorry for someone else. When it comes to simple feelings, sympathy is what is in play. Empathy, on the other hand, involves cognitively putting ourselves in the shoes of another person. We aren’t imagining what we would feel like if we were another person. We are allowing the others to describe to us how it feels to be them, and then responding in a way that is catered to meeting their expressed needs. Developing the skill of listening with genuine empathy can take some time, so be sure to let your loved one know that you are still a work in progress.
Maintain Individual Interests
It is far too easy to lose balance when it comes to developing relationships. We can begin to think that we need to spend all of our free time with this person, and can begin to view any indications of time spent apart as rejection. While a constructive discussion about the needs of each person in a relationship when it comes to time together and time apart is important to have, needing to spend too much time together is actually a red flag. No matter how wonderful and healthy a relationship is, we are still tasked with developing ourselves as individuals. Failing to do so can end up destroying a relationship.
Spend Quality Time Together
On the flip-side of needing personal space is the need for time together. Life can become very busy, and habits of taking each other for granted can creep in before we know it. Carving time out of your schedule to reconnect in a relationship is a vital part of maintaining it. Without setting aside some devoted time for it, it is very difficult to engage in the empathetic and emotional communication necessary to keep the connection going. Take turns engaging in preferred activities, and use the time to get to know each other on a deeper level.
Learn To Be Forgiving
If there is another aspect that defines humans other than social, it is that we are flawed. Anyone who sets up expectations of perfection in a relationship is doomed to disappointment, and this goes for all parties involved. In order to maintain healthy relationships, we need to learn to develop the skill of extending grace to both our loved ones, and to ourselves. Everyone has a bad day, and everyone experiences the sting of failure. Learn the art of making a sincere apology, and move forward, together.
Know When to Call It Quits
While this isn’t specifically a tip toward building healthy relationships, it is still an important aspect of the overall picture. Part of living healthy is knowing how to recognize what’s unhealthy. Anyone who has been in a dysfunctional relationship can attest to how much of a toll it takes on your energy and ability to remain positive. Removing these types of draining relationships from your social pool will leave you with more energy to devote toward fostering your own self-growth, and toward fostering your healthy, reciprocal, relationships.