The quality of our relationships affects our happiness and the quality of our lives.
Unfortunately, most of us were not taught in school how best to manage and grow relationships. Many of us didn’t grow up in families that gave us positive examples of healthy and successful relationships.
However, it’s an important skill to develop.
And, for many of us who may have learned some of them, it’s easy to forget, too.
Keys for Healthier Relationships
Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, here are some helpful ways to enjoy healthy and meaningful relationships.
1. Avoid establishing relationships to address a challenge
Too often, relationships are founded on a problem. The issue might be loneliness, a lack of intimacy, the need for support, or the lack of children. When a relationship is based mainly on resolving a difficulty, there will be troubles in the relationship or friendship.
Start a relationship because you’re enjoy the other person and love the idea of spending more time together. Have something that you want to share, rather than starting a relationship because of what you can get or to solve problems in your life.
2. Realize that no one can read your mind
It’s not reasonable to expect anyone else to accurately guess your needs or opinions.
If you don’t make your desires known, you should expect to not have them met. Take responsibility for taking the first step in satisfying your wants and needs by sharing them clearly.
Address concerns before you invest too much emotion in them. A brief, undistracted heart to heart talk each day can avoid drama in the future.
3. Learn to fight cleanly
If you’re going to argue, do so in a way that doesn’t create additional challenges.
You’ll have better results and everyone will be happier, if you address behaviors instead of attacking the other person or focusing your complaints on their character.
For example, saying, “Why are you such a slob,” is not helpful or productive. It is not likely to result in something that helps you feel better.
Instead, name the specific problem behavior and share why it’s a concern.
For example, you might say, “I don’t like it when you leave your wet towel on the bathroom floor. Someone could trip on it, and the towel gets a moldy smell. It can’t dry if it’s on the floor. Please hang it on the towel rack instead.”
A wet towel may seem trivial, but sometimes relationships are ruined by the way small disagreements are handled.
4. Avoid making assumptions
People who struggle with friendships and romantic relationships often make too many assumptions. Sometimes people do and say things that have nothing to do with you.
The other person might be having a bad day, feel under the weather, or might be having challenges at home or work.
When you assume that everything is about you, you invite unhappiness. The relationship will suffer.
Seek clarification rather than making assumptions. Assume there’s a harmless explanation until you specifically know otherwise.
5. Accept that everyone is doing the best they can at that moment
We all have a lot of potential, but that potential varies from moment to moment.
No one can give you their best every minute of every day.
Some days you will get more than others, just as there will be times in your life that can’t give as much.
When you believe the best about others they are more encouraged and motivated to do their best.
6. Understand that no relationship can fulfill all your needs.
No one can provide everything you need. It’s up to you, not them, to take responsibility for your needs. Have a realistic viewpoint and be grateful for what your friend, date or partner can give you.
After all, there are billions of other people, and yourself, who can help with the needs the other person can’t help you meet.
Relationships can make life joyful or miserable. Relationships can be challenging, since people have different needs, expectations, and ways of viewing the world. Positive relationships, however, are well-worth the effort.
Healthy relationships are worth the effort
Make sure that you’re beginning any relationship for positive reasons. If you enter a relationship to solve a problem in your life, you’re both likely to end up disappointed.
Look at relationships as an opportunity to give, to grow and to share experiences so your journey together is joyful and fulfilling.