In Focus: Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships
Positive human connection plays an important role in maintaining our emotional-physical health, well-being, and growth. Whether it be with friends, your peers, or a significant other, relationships often allow us to forge deep and meaningful bonds that can result in a sense of purpose, great joy, and satisfaction. This is primarily because of the support that comes from a healthy relationship. In the face of adversity, healthy relationships and the positive support they offer, not only buffer us from the harms of stress but allow us to flourish despite these harms.
How do I know if my relationships are healthy?
Healthy relationships bring out the best in us and make us feel good about ourselves. Here are some qualities and behaviors of a healthy relationship:
- Imperfectly perfect– Relationships are never perfect. They are always a work in progress. A relationship needs constant maintenance and sometimes a bit of patience. Even when we make great strides in one area, life will change– your BFF moves to another city/state or your partner lands a new job– and the relationship is challenged to adapt. Approach your relationships with curiosity and without any expectations.
- Learn to repair– Because perfection is not possible and relationships are like a challenging problem set (just more enjoyable), mistakes will happen. Thus, one indispensable skill is the ability to initiate repair. That is, practice apologizing.
- Living with differences– Times when we “click” with another person(s), and think– “We have so much in common”– are fun and convenient, but they are not the point of relationships. Relationships are complex and integrated with many parts. Think of an orchestra– it is a system made up of many parts that do very different things which are linked together, or synchronized, in harmony. So enjoy your commonalities, but also celebrate your differences. Approach them with patience, curiosity, and as an opportunity to grow and learn from one another.
- Valuing the other’s growth as we do our own– Each person should care deeply about the growth (personal, professional, etc.) of the other. Say they get a huge career opportunity that requires them to move away? They join a club or organization that requires them to devote their time elsewhere? Their interests change? Be supportive of them and their decisions.
A healthy relationship does not mean a “perfect” relationship, and no one is healthy 100% of the time, but by striving for these characteristics, we can move towards relationships that keep us safe and happy.
Written by: Donnovan Somera Yisrael, ‘89, Well-Being at Stanford
- An important part of a healthy relationship is loving yourself. Before you begin fostering relationships with others, it can be helpful to spend time getting to know yourself. Consider taking a WELLNESS, LIFE, or LEAD course, or engage in an experience that carves out time for you to go inward with curiosity and vulnerability.
- Well-Being Coaching. A well-being coach can help you learn skills for healthy relationships. Book a session today!
- A Relationship Is Like a Garden In Focus, The Flourish: February 2022
- Relationships Vaden Health Services
10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship One Love Foundation