Healthy relationships can bring a lot of joy and contentment into your life. Healthy relationships become a cornerstone, a place where you can be yourself and know you’ll be fully supported and respected no matter what life throws your way.
On the other hand, unhealthy relationships are toxic and damaging to your emotional well-being. Unhealthy relationships are stressful and leave you feeling insecure, attacked, and doubting yourself.
Is there a secret to developing healthy relationships? Well, it all starts with you and how you relate to yourself, as well as your attitude to relationships, and to other people. Let’s take a look at how you can develop healthy relationships in your life.
1. First get to know yourself
It’s a cliché, but it’s also true: You can’t have good relationships with other people until you have a good relationship with yourself. Healthy relationships start with you. When you know who you are and what you want out of life and relationships, you can start looking for relationships that fit those needs.
It’s also important to get to know your insecurities, frustrations, the things that make you angry or make you lash out, and how you respond to stress. Knowing these things makes it easier to manage potential conflicts and handle situations with grace.
2. Be comfortable alone
Being comfortable alone is important if you want to be comfortable in a relationship with another person. If you’re comfortable alone, you’ll discover the joy of self-sufficiency and self-validation.
When you’re comfortable and whole within yourself, you can enter relationships from an open, grounded and honest place. You won’t look to relationships to fix you or fill a gap in your life, because you know you’ve already found wholeness. Instead, you can enjoy each relationship for what it brings to your life, without relying on it.
3. Take responsibility
Taking responsibility for your feelings, actions and reactions is vital for any relationship. We all get irritated by other people sometimes – we’re only human after all – but we can manage our own reactions and accept responsibility for them.
Only you are responsible for what you accept in a relationship, and how you treat the other person. Taking responsibility for your life and your relationships makes you feel stronger and reminds you that you’re the captain of your own ship.
4. Accept others as they are
Many a relationship has broken down because one party really wanted the other to be different. However, you can’t force other people to change and be more like you want them to be. All you can do is accept them as they are now.
If you enter a relationship with open eyes and acceptance of your partner’s quirks, foibles, and traits, your expectations will be realistic and your relationship will be based on mutual respect, not manipulation.
5. Be realistic about relationships
Fairytale syndrome is a certified relationship killer. Every relationship has a honeymoon phase, and it’s a lot of fun, but it’s not the basis for a long-term relationship.
Get real about what your relationship entails. There are going to be ups and downs, bills to pay, and perhaps in the future the demands of kids, promotions, or even illness. Your partner is human and definitely has some irritating habits (and so do you).
Prepare yourself for a real-world relationship instead of a fairytale and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be ready for a fulfilling relationship that embraces the everyday instead of rejecting it.
6. Be loyal and respectful
Loyalty and respect make for a great relationship foundation. Being loyal to your partner and making them your priority builds trust and reminds them that they matter to you. Loyalty makes it easier for you to trust each other and build a relationship together.
Respect means listening to your partner’s needs, concerns, hopes and dreams openly and with care. It means learning to talk about even painful things without being cruel to each other, and it means putting the health of your relationship above winning or scoring points off each other.
Talk to your partner the way you’d want them to talk to you. Focus on your feelings and needs, not on trying to punish them or make them act a certain way.
7. Nurture the good
If you want a beautiful garden, you tend and water the flowers, not the weeds. Developing healthy relationships is just the same. Nurture and grow the good in each other and in your relationship.
Look for all the ways in which your relationship works, and focus on those. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
That counts for your partner, too. Look for what you love and appreciate about them, and focus on that. Tell them about it.
Of course issues will come up sometimes and need to be dealt with, but on the everyday level good relationships are built on being positive and nurturing, not nagging or finding fault.
Healthy relationships are a possibility for anyone willing to work on themselves and learn the skills of being in a healthy relationship. Practice honesty and kindness with yourself so you can relate better to others and build relationships that are made to last.