Relationships are an integral part of a person’s life. Whether they are intimate or platonic, positive or negative, relationships help make up our social support network, which is essential to our mental health. Moreover, they can also provide a source of comfort and self-worth.
There are many types of relationships, some that are short-term, like a summer fling, while others are long-term, such as a roommate or a spouse. However, most people tend to associate the word “relationship” with romantic relationships that entail emotional and/or physical intimacy and monogamy.
Healthy relationship are marked by mutual respect, empathy, and a sense of obligation to nurture the bond. They encourage personal growth and offer a safe space for conflict resolution. They are characterized by natural reciprocity, where both partners genuinely want to do things for each other. They also avoid personal attacks and instead remain respectful, empathetic, and agnostic as they discuss differences and work toward a solution.
In a supportive relationship, we feel encouraged to take risks and pursue our dreams. This is because we know that our partner will cheer us on, no matter what the outcome. They will help keep us grounded and on track when we lose sight of our goals.
Although the need for human connection appears innate, the ability to form stable relationships seems to be learned, perhaps in infancy when infants develop attachments with caregivers who reliably meet their needs for care, love, affection, food, warmth, security, and stimulation. These early attachments have lasting effects, as adults we develop deep ingrained patterns of relating to other people.