Relationships are a central part of living a full life and offer many benefits to our mental health, wellbeing and overall health. From building social connections to improving our ability to handle stress, relationships are a key factor in the happiness equation. In fact, having healthy and supportive relationships has been shown to add years to our life.
Relationships may be casual or more serious in nature but are typically characterized by some level of interdependence, whether emotional, physical, or both. They can also vary in length, from a few dates to lifelong commitments. In either case, they require active participation from both people to be successful and thrive.
Healthy relationships help us feel at peace, confident and self-assured. They provide a solid base of support when we’re feeling down and can serve as a catalyst for taking greater risks or pursuing our dreams. When we’re in a positive relationship, it’s easier to see the value of others and to treat them with respect.
Having a good relationship can also make bad days or annoying coworkers tolerable because you have someone who can cheer you up and share your burdens. In contrast, a toxic or unhealthy relationship can be very draining and can pull your energy away from other areas of your life. It can also be hard to make headway in your career if you have a trail of damaged relationships behind you.
In addition to the obvious benefits of having a supportive relationship, there are other less-understood and equally important reasons to invest in one. For instance, having a partner can help you develop and master new skills. Learning how to communicate more effectively, defuse conflict and navigate a variety of other issues that may come up can be invaluable in your personal and professional lives. In addition, the act of learning and mastering these skills can be very fulfilling and help you grow as a person.
Another reason to invest in a relationship is that it can improve your social connections and build your network. If you are an introvert, having a close relationship can increase your chances of making friends in the future. Likewise, if you are an extrovert and want to be more social, having a close relationship can help you become more comfortable in social situations.
A third reason to have a healthy relationship is that it can help you live longer. Research has shown that people who have a strong support system are more resilient to stress and other negative life events. They are also more likely to live a long and healthy life.
The best way to build a healthy relationship is by communicating openly and honestly with each other. This includes discussing all topics, even those that are sensitive or personal. Be open about your past and your dreams, and try to understand the other person’s perspective. It’s also important to create couple rituals and activities that heighten your connection, such as a weekly dinner date, going on a hike together or reading a book on a subject you both enjoy.