Relationships can mean different things to everyone, and the word covers a vast array of human connections. There are romantic relationships, business partnerships, friendships and family ties, to name a few. It can be easy to overlook the value of these close ties, especially as we struggle with daily stresses. But having a network of supportive people can help boost physical and emotional health, as well as provide a positive sense of purpose.
The need for human connection appears to be innate, and the ability to form healthy relationships may start in infancy when an infant has positive experiences with caregivers who meet the infant’s needs (food, care, warmth, protection). This early relationship forms deeply ingrained patterns that can last throughout life.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship is open communication. You can nurture this by listening carefully to your partner and validating their feelings. It is also helpful to understand your partner’s perspective and point of view so that you can communicate respectfully about disagreements. You can also cultivate a healthy relationship by setting aside regular couple time, such as an hour a day to chat or even just sit together and hold hands.
A healthy relationship can also give you a boost of confidence and self-esteem. It can help you achieve your goals and dreams more easily, as you have someone to cheer you on and support you when the going gets tough. In addition, having a solid support system can reduce stress and increase happiness and longevity.
Having strong interpersonal connections can lead to better mental health, including a reduction in depressive and anxious symptoms. It can also help you manage your stress levels more effectively, as a bond with someone else triggers the release of hormones that can counteract negative effects of stress on your heart, digestive tract, insulin levels and immune system.
People in loving and stable marriages report less depression and anxiety, and are more likely to feel happy overall compared with those who are single, widowed or divorced. It is thought that the social support networks of those in happy marriages can act as a buffer against depression and anxiety.
A good relationship can also help you become a better person by providing opportunities for learning and growth. A loving and supportive friend can push you to be your best, while a partner can encourage you to do things you never thought possible. Both can teach you how to be more empathetic and understanding, and they can help you develop your own voice and take more risks. Regardless of whether your relationship is intimate or casual, it’s always worth investing the time and effort to make it thrive. Just be careful not to overdo it. Rushing into commitments that aren’t ready for can be a recipe for disaster. Take it slow, and you’re bound to reap the rewards. Every day is a new chance to strengthen your relationship, so that you can face the challenges of life together.