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How to Have a Healthy Relationship

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Relationships!  They can be tricky. There is the business of maintaining a sense of self and sharing space and time with another.  It doesn’t matter if the relationship is with a friend, co-worker, or intimate partner; making sure things stay healthy takes work.  Below are seven tips on how to have healthy connections with friends and partners.

Take your time!  When we first meet someone, he/she wants to make a good impression.  So they do everything they can to look and act their best.  Once some time has passed, the “true self” will show up.  Not only will they burp in front of you, they will show more of what they really like or dislike.  Take time to get to know your partner/friend, to gauge how much to reveal about yourself.  This is also called having healthy boundaries, more on that later.

Also, take time away from your partner to develop other relationships in your life.  Stay in touch with friends and family that are supportive and positive.  The relationship with your partner may not last forever, but the ones with family members will!  No dating partner or friend will meet your every need. 

Ask questions!  Before an employer hires new employees, they will conduct at least one interview.  He/She asks lots of questions to help determine if the applicant will be a good fit for their company.  Potential partners/friends are applying for the position of being in your life.  Ask open-ended questions to determine if they will be a good relationship fit.  Remember, you’re not obligated to “hire” everyone you interview. 

Actions speak louder than words!  So, he/she has all of the right answers; but do their actions match up with what they say?  They tell you they are “laid-back,” and don’t like drama, but you’ve seen them overreact or provoke others to anger on more than one occasion.  She/He says they can be trusted, but have you caught them in several lies?  Don’t just hear their words, watch their actions!

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.  Maya Angelou 

Keep good boundaries!  Good boundaries act like good fences.  They not only keep out intruders, but also help maintain the respect and value of the property they surround.  You are valuable and you deserve respect.  Having healthy boundaries is one way of letting people know what you will and will not put up with in a relationship.  It is important to remember that healthy boundaries include one partner/friend knowing where they end and the other person begins.  Healthy boundaries keep in mind that in a relationship there is space for: You, the Partner/Friend, and The Relationship.

Disagreements don’t have to lead to dissolution!  Relationships are between two people and no two people are alike.  So, it is unrealistic to think that two people will always agree and get along.  Just because you and your partner/friend disagree, it doesn’t mean the relationship or friendship has to come to an end.  Depending on what the disagreement is about, conflict can actually lead to growth and positive change.

Unpack the baggage!  Most of us have had the experience of a bad break-up or betrayal.  But in most cases, we move on to the next relationship without taking the time to heal from the fallout.  If our relationship goal is only to alleviate loneliness, we may not take time to identify our real expectations for a friendship before seeking out a new friend.  This can lead to us taking “baggage” from one encounter into the next new relationship/friendship.

Just like we do when returning from a long trip, we need to clear out the old stuff in our luggage.  This includes asking questions: Are there habits I need to “clean up?”  Do I ignore “red flags?”  What are common themes/patterns that appear in my relationships?

You are the common denominator!  If it seems that you are only meeting the controlling, jealous, or unhealthy type, take a long hard look at yourself.  (Hope that wasn’t too harsh.)  Attracting the “wrong” person is a pattern; and patterns can be broken and changed.  First, determine the type of relationship you want.  Are your standards realistic?  If so, then don’t settle for anything or anyone that does not meet your standards.  Seek activities that help you develop your likes and passions.  Get to know and like you!  You deserve to have people in your life that support you and who allow you to experience personal growth!

For more, please take a look at this video!

(Post created 8/2014 – Revised 12/2018)

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