Relationships are the bedrock of our life on earth. From the time we are born, we inherit relationships with people who play important roles in our growth and nurture. Each human interaction is a relationship:- it can bloom into an important one or lose significance and be forgotten altogether. Our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, lovers, spouses, and children- all represent the vital relationships that we encounter during our lifetime. The way we connect with the people around us defines who we are as people. Healthy relationships can groom us into well-rounded individuals while unhealthy ones can disturb our mental and emotional well-being. The distinction between the two, however, is not black and white. Hence, an important part of being a well-functioning individual is nourishing healthy relationships while isolating those that are harmful. In fact, Wysa has certain self-help tools such as a “relationship” and a “positivity” pack that can contribute to your relationships. In this blog, we will explore different ways to do this.
A review of 148 studies concluded that “the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity” and that “physicians, health professionals, educators, and the media should take social relationships as seriously as other risk factors that affect mortality.”
What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship is a mutually beneficial exchange of words, thoughts, and emotions that bring out the best of both individuals involved. Simply put, a healthy relationship is a stairway to growth. It can exist between a parent and child, two friends, lovers, even acquaintances. Any relationship that helps us express ourselves without inhibition and introspect our actions without judgment is a healthy relationship. It is based on the foundation of trust and mutual respect where two people can be seen as they truly are and seek nurturing advice and feedback on their respective life decisions.
Signs of a healthy relationship
A healthy relationship carries the ingredients of a fulfilling life that can help us strive for happiness and become the best version of ourselves. Here are some signs that you are in a healthy relationship
No relationship can survive for long without trust. A healthy relationship fosters trust between the two individuals involved. All of us need somebody to rely on and confide in; a healthy relationship provides a safe space for our innate self-expression.
You may not always agree with another person, but as long as you can put your point forward, be heard and be respected for your opinion, your relationship will survive the test of time. People in healthy relationships support your ambitions and cheer you on when you’re down. In any circumstance of disagreement, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and envision matters from their point of view.
Healthy relationships are honest and straight-forward. In any mature kinship between two people, being able to express their opinion openly without fear of judgement or of offending the other person. People we love deserve the truth, and it’s up to us to deliver it in a considerate, palatable way.
Nobody likes to feel like they put in all the effort in a relationship or go out of the way for the other all the time. These gestures need to be reciprocated. A healthy relationship is an equal one; it demands understanding and compromises on both sides.
Healthy relationships are those where both parties exercise control. It can range from being about trivial matters such as food or movie choices right up to decision-making criteria such as where to live and whom to marry. You must understand and respect the fact that you can’t participate in every aspect of someone’s life and act accordingly.
All relationships have ups and downs, where they go through periods of unpleasantness. However, even in difficult times, you have to take stock of your words and actions. It’s important to take responsibility for an unpleasant exchange in a relationship, no matter how hard it seems to be. It builds character.
Natural and Fluid
A healthy relationship has to be natural, fun and easy-going. It cannot be forced upon the other person. Two people have to genuinely like spending time with each other pursuing activities of shared interest. Healthy relationships provide an outlet for self-expression and a means for both individuals to let loose and relax.
Tips for a healthy relationship
- Healthy relationships develop over time. So in case, you’re trying to improve your relationship with someone, make sure you spend quality time with them.
- You have to keep the lines for communication open. You don’t want people to walk on egg-shells around you. This is especially true for professional relationships where the scope of feedback is required to improve the quality of work. Be open to healthy criticism and respectful disagreement.
- Give the other person some space to breathe. It’s not healthy to spend all your time with just one person; in fact, this can stifle the relationship in the long run. Whether it’s your partner, best friend or teenage child, give the other person time and space to explore new interests and forge new relationships independent of you.
- Be a good listener. From time to time, we all need someone to fall back on, to share our deepest fears and sorrows with. Be that safe space for those you care about.
- Be willing to forgive. Over the course of your relationship, you will commit mistakes and fall short of expectations. So will the people around you. Be accommodating of occasional slip-ups and move on.
- Be respectful even during disagreements and clashes. Name-calling and humiliation in a fit of fury is a big no-no.
Understanding unhealthy relationships and toxicity
Unhealthy relationships antagonize our life and growth. Unlike healthy relationships, these connections exist for the sole purpose of pulling us down and feeding on our insecurities. You can be in an unhealthy relationship for a very long time and still not realize the mental harm they bring about. Here are some signs:
- An unhealthy relationship is not a two-way street. There is always one giver and one taker. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you will find that you’re constantly putting in the effort, pulling out all stops and bending over backward to make the other person happy, while they rarely make an effort to do so.
- There is no mutual trust and respect in an unhealthy relationship. If your counterpart is constantly doubting your intentions and making you second guess every decision you make for your well-being, you are in an unhealthy relationship.
- Selfish people are toxic and they constantly drain you of your energy. Your relationship with them will never seem natural and easygoing; instead, you will end up spending most of your waking hours making them happy.
- An unhealthy relationship lacks the support system extended in a happy, healthy relationship. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you will find yourself at the receiving end of constant unwarranted criticism and complete isolation in achieving your goals and dreams.
- Unhealthy relationships lack reliability. You will find that you cannot count on your partner to be there for you in your time of need. Their availability in your life is fickle since you are not their priority.
- Toxic people crave control of relationships. They will try to manipulate you in situations to get you to do what they want and you may not even realize this. Gaslighting in a relationship is a big sign of toxicity.
- Unhealthy relationships throw up a pattern of neglect and betrayal. You’ll find yourself bemoaning repeated occurrences of feeling unworthy and not important enough. Toxic relationships will test your self-worth.
Tips to stay away from unhealthy relationships
When it comes to toxic relationships, telling someone to stay out of them is like stating the obvious fact in the world. However, another fact is that when you’re in them, things aren’t always so black and white. And even if they are, it’s not always easy to get up and leave. However, as painful as it might seem, it’s important to cut cords from a toxic relationship in one way or another. Here are some tips that can help you:
Own the narrative
Most toxic relationships arise out of a dependency, whether it’s real or notional. Evaluate whether you really need this person in your life, whether it’s for personal or professional reasons. If it’s a personal relationship, try to understand the source of your dependency, whether it’s emotional or physical. Try to phase it out one way, try to take a few steps back in the relationship over a period of time. As your dependency decreases, your relationship will also begin to phase out, even retreating to a not so painful space. If it’s a professional relationship, take the time to understand what it would take to make a switch. If it can’t be immediate, then set a time limit for yourself and abide by it.
Change the power dynamic
The people who enslave us in a toxic relationship recognize that they exercise a certain control over our thoughts and actions. Try to break the cycle of toxicity by voicing your opinions instead of cowering down to their beliefs. Stand up for things you believe in and muster up the courage to speak your mind from time to time. It’s not easy, but try to zero-in on one small gesture individuality and follow it up with bigger actions.
Revise your schedule
Increased exposure to toxic relationships can drain our energy and sap our positivity. Make a list of people who invigorate you and make a conscious effort to spend more time with them. Focus on all the things about these positive interactions that fill you up with joy and try to emulate them in all spheres of your life. Seek out more people that make feel good both in your extended family, friend circle, relationships and office.
Take a trip
Taking a vacation can help you gain perspective in life. Plan a trip out of your city and venture out into new and unexplored places. Meet new people, experience new food and revive your senses. Being away from your current predicament can help you see things more clearly and approach your life situations in a lucid manner.
All individuals have certain expectations from their significant other when they get into a relationship. Some express these wishes explicitly while others hope it’s something their partner figures out over time. In fact, some people get into relationships really young, when they themselves are not aware of what they’re looking for. However, for couples to set goals in their relationships such as when they wish to be engaged and married, buying a home, moving cities, having a child et cetera, both partners have to be on the same page. Couples who communicate their desires and ambitions from their life more openly are able to set goals for their life together.
Marriage is an institution of companionship between two people who promise to love and support each other for life. Marriage marks the beginning of a family; it binds the two individuals as well as their close relationships together. The goals of marriage are to provide a strong and secure relationship for two people which helps them grow together as individuals.
A couple should have an honest conversation amongst themselves about what their individual priorities are and how they would like their lives to play out. Giving in to each one of your partner’s wishes is unhealthy, as is refuting all their wants. Instead, a couple should address the core values that lie at the heart of each other’s life plan and see how well they match. Open communication and mutual respect are at the heart of a bright future as a twosome.
There is no perfect definition of perfect relationship goals. In fact, such a premise does not exist. Goals that satisfy the unique intrinsic need for love and validation for the couple are the only ones worth pursuing.
If your relationship is going through a bad phase or has reached breaking point, you need to spend time introspecting what went wrong before you can go about fixing it. Spend time listening to your partner and be attentive to their needs. Show up and put in the effort required to show them that you care. Tell them how much they mean to you and make them feel special. Regaining your partner’s trust is the only way to save your relationship.
The sad truth of relationships is that not all of them are meant to last forever. When there is a complete breakdown of communication and trust in a relationship, it is safe to say that the relationship is over.
Spending time apart as a couple is a healthy activity. Most individuals need some time alone to introspect their lives and circumstance to approach things from their own unique viewpoint and seek solutions. This process is sometimes lost in a relationship when the couple spends too much time with each other. Time apart can really help people take stock of their feelings and gain perspective.
A happy and healthy relationship is built on the following ideals:
1. Mutual respect
Two people can be in a long-lasting healthy relationship only if they respect each other. They may not always agree on everything, but as long as two people see their partner in a loving light and trust for each other, they will be happy.
In order to have a healthy relationship, decision making should be a two-way street. Couples should discuss all-important goals and have a basic agreement on how they approach landmark moments in their life such as marriage, children and financial planning.
3. Sharing responsibilities
The best relationships are equal. Partners who share the responsibilities in a relationship be it parenting or house-work stay together in the long haul, since no single person feels pressure to do all the heavy lifting.