Research consistently shows interpersonal relationships can be highly beneficial for both mental and physical health. Social relationships can exert a positive influence on the choices people make about their health, and the support close friends and, in addition, family provide can help people successfully face adverse events. These benefits, along with others, make it very important to pay attention to and nurture relationships you have with friends, family members and others. To strengthen a relationship, both parties need to make that a priority, putting time and effort into cultivate it over time.
Make the Effort to Be Involved
Without active involvement, personal relationships can stagnate. While the two of you might think of yourselves as friends, if you don't make the effort to communicate, relate to one another, and be an active presence in each other's lives, you could potentially lose the connection and understanding you once had, suggest the experts at Helpguide.org in the article "Relationship Help." You may have the misfortune of discovering this during a difficult time, when the support you expected isn't there. Call, talk and see each other on a regular basis.
Take Responsibility for Yourself
In healthy, strong relationships, each person takes responsibility for personal feelings and needs. This is an extremely important part of a solid bond with another person, because it means that instead of expecting that the other person will make you happy or feel loved, you learn to do this for yourself, writes counselor Margaret Paul, Ph.D., in the article "7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship" on Innerbonding.com. Paul recommends treating yourself with kindness and acceptance, the way you would treat a dear friend. Taking responsibility for yourself also means not blaming someone else for things that are upsetting you. According to Paul, blaming is a major source of discord in relationships.
Set Healthy Boundaries
One sign of a strong relationship is the ability to be an individual, while still allowing family, friends and loved ones to connect with you, say psychotherapist Rita DeMaria, Ph.D., and Sari Harrar in their article "8 Ways to Reconnect and Strengthen Your Relationship," for Reader's Digest. As much as it's important to fulfill the wishes of your partner or family members to make them happy, you shouldn't be doing so at the expense of your own wants and needs. Don't be afraid to cultivate your interests outside your social circle, calmly and honestly expressing your desires to others.
View Your Relationship as a Journey
All relationships are works in progress. There's no one thing you can do to suddenly create a strong relationship, says life coach Celestine Chua on her website, Personalexcellence.co. Whether you're looking to make a happy relationship even better, or working on improving a relationship that has been fractured by the past, it's valuable to think of a relationship as a journey that consistently moves forward. Just because you tried something and it didn't work, counsels Chua, doesn't mean you should give up, if the relationship is truly important to you.
- Journal of Health and Social Behavior: Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy
- Help Guide: Relationship Help
- Inner Bonding: 7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship
- Personal Excellence: How To Improve Your Relationship With Your Parents: A Delicate Guide
- Reader's Digest: 8 Ways to Reconnect and Strengthen Your Relationship