Mandy Kloppers

How to Develop Healthy Relationships

Human beings are social creatures.  Even the biggest introverts amongst us don’t always want to be alone.  Forming a social circle and cultivating our relationships with those we call dear is important for all of us.

What are the benefits of these bonds, though, and how can we create them?  It’s not as simple as saying a basic hello to someone each day.  Rather, we need to put work into our friendships and connections with people to maintain them and make them stronger.  If you do want to learn more about how this works and why you should invest your time into this, continue on!

Why They’re Important

There are many benefits to having strong connections to the people we care about.  We’ll start out on a purely practical level, though.  When you have people that you can lean on, they’ll be there for you in the toughest times.  Think about the last time you had a leaky faucet or a were moving.

Who did you call upon?  Possibly your parents or your friends.  Anyone who might have that knowledge that’s in your circle.  Just remember that you should do the same for them – while relationships are not strictly transactional, we should still employ the idea of give and take.

Additionally, there are studies out there that show that we live longer when we have a solid system around us.  The love and support that comes from those around us can make a huge difference in our lives.  If you want to read more about the science behind that, feel free to look at this article:

Shifting gears, there are plenty of other positives as well.  Social support is a big one.  Going through a tough breakup?  Having a shoulder to cry on can ease that pain.

It doesn’t all have to be negative, either.  When we get good news, its only natural that we want to share it!  Find friends who will be happy for you and celebrate your accomplishments with you.  Those who stick with us through thick and thin give us a better overall sense of well-being, too.

What Loneliness Can Do

I know it might seem like something we can just ignore and let go but being lonely can have a surprisingly negative effect on our health both internally and externally.  Those with anxiety or other mental illnesses such as depression are more likely to feel loneliness.  Unfortunately, their other symptoms tend to worsen as they do.

Something hit hard are sleep patterns.  You might find yourself getting little to no sleep or wanting to rest way too often, for example.  Both are unhealthy, so it’s a good idea to find the underlying reason for them occurring.

Elevated blood pressure and a compromised immune system are other side effects of loneliness.  Sure, it’s not the only reason these conditions form, but it’s still worth keeping in mind.  Certain age groups are disproportionately impacted, as well.

Those who are older might have higher chances of developing dementia if they don’t remain connected with others, for example.  They might also require more support in their homes from nurses or need a long-term facility.  Meanwhile, isolated youths develop obesity more often and are at risk of serious mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

The Types of Connections

As you consider how to build healthy relationships, you should be considering that they vary in nature.  Not all of them will be the same, so there are different approaches to each.  Let me explain.

Intimate Connections

This is the bonds we form with a romantic partner.  They are characterized by emotional and/or physical intimacy.  Usually with a partner, it is both, though that is not always applicable.  Those who are uninterested in physical relationships, for example, often form romantic attachments still.

They are one of the most important bonds that humans can form because they are so central in our lives.  Marriage, of course, is a huge facet of it.  When we marry someone, we are tying our lives together almost inextricably.  It’s a show of trust and love.

Relational Connections

These have become ever critical in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.  They involve finding people who you share interests and hobbies with.  They’re a bit more surface-level than the above, but that doesn’t discount their role.  Some common examples are coworkers or people we play video games with for a guild or other club.

They’re still long-term and should be cultivated, despite the seeming shallowness.  Sometimes, those we have a relational bond with can form a more intimate bond with us in the future!

Collective Connections

These are the last that I will cover, and they’re again more general than the previous two.  They are relationships that we have with people in our organizations.  A common example is those we go to church with, or on a broader scale, anyone with the same faith.

How to Cultivate Them

Now that you know what they are and why they’re valuable, I’ll discuss how we can create lasting and worthwhile bonds with people.  At the center of all good relationships is communication.  Hash out what your preferred style is and see who that is compatible with.

Compromises are going to be necessary, inevitably.  Sometimes we have to communicate to certain friends and loved ones differently than others.  An example of this is having a sensitive soul as a friend if you’re very blunt – chances are, you’ll soften your words for them.  This isn’t a bad thing, but rather, meeting in the middle to continue that relationship rather than cutting ties!

It’s still a good idea to stick to your own core values, though.  If you find that you’re disagreeing with someone around you on core opinions or values that you hold, they might just not be the right fit for your life.  Don’t be afraid to cut off toxic people or end conversations that you aren’t comfortable with.  You’re in control of your own interactions in this way.