Healthy relationships can bring out the best in people, allowing them to experience personal growth and greater life satisfaction. This is true for intimate relationships, as well as friendships and relationships with family members.
Fostering healthy relationships
The first step to taking care of your relationships is to take an honest look at them.
A healthy relationship has at least five important qualities: safety, honesty, acceptance, respect and enjoyment.
Here are a few ideas to get you started, whether you’re beginning a new relationship or you want to improve an existing relationship.
Strive for meaningful relationships
Developing meaningful relationships can be challenging because it involves sharing our feelings as well as our needs and wants, which can make us feel vulnerable; however, being close with someone may involve sharing these things and taking that kind of emotional risk.
Communication is often listed as one of the most important elements of a healthy relationship. Own your opinions and reactions by using “I-statements” (i.e., “I feel sad because this wasn’t how I expected things to turn out.”). Take time to listen to what someone has to say. Reflect your understanding back to the other person by re-stating what you’ve heard in your own words.
Most relationships will have some conflict. This is normal and means you disagree, not that you don’t like each other. Keep the conversation about behaviour, not about personalities. Stay in the present. Focus on the current conflict and avoid bringing up past difficulties.
Make time to discuss what’s important
If you or the other person is tired or busy, be sure to find a better time to talk about what’s bothering you.
When a relationship ends
It can be challenging, in a number of ways, when a relationship ends, regardless of the type of relationship or how it ended. Here are some important things you can do to take care of yourself:
- Talk to friends, family and other trusted individuals.
- Take care of your health (e.g., exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy food, take time for spiritual reflection).
- Give yourself time to acknowledge the pain you are experiencing. The feelings you are experiencing are completely normal.
- Recognize that grief is a common experience at the end of a relationship.
- Permit yourself to grieve for the loss of the relationship.
If you find that things aren’t getting better, think about talking to a Counsellor in Residence. They can help you work through the emotions that you’re experiencing.