Relationships are an integral part of our lives and have a huge impact on our wellbeing. They can boost our confidence and self-esteem, give us a sense of belonging and add meaning to our lives. They can also be challenging and make you grow in ways that you never thought possible. But they can also be damaging to our health, happiness and even our careers if not managed well. It’s therefore important to understand the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship, so that you can make informed decisions and protect your wellbeing.
Getting close to another person has many benefits, but it’s vital that you don’t become dependent on the relationship for your sense of identity or fulfillment. Your partner can help you achieve your goals and dreams by supporting you emotionally and financially, as well as being a source of inspiration. You may even have a ‘ride or die’ partner who cheers you on when the going gets tough, and who can pick you up when you fall.
Some people stay in unhealthy relationships because they’ve been told that relationships take work and should be difficult. Here at Love Is Respect, we believe that relationships do require work, but that the work shouldn’t be hard or exhausting – it should be rewarding and enjoyable. Think of it like working on a hobby that you’re really into, or an assignment that you got really psyched about at school – it takes time and effort, but you enjoy it.
In a healthy relationship, the partners have an emotional connection that makes them feel loved and supported, and they have a mutual respect for one another. This means that they don’t talk down to each other or use derogatory language. They’re also not afraid to have (respectful) disagreements and don’t avoid conflict or avoid bringing up important issues.
It’s also important that the couples have some space and interests outside the relationship, which they can pursue individually or with other friends. This can be as simple as watching a movie or playing a game of poker on a Friday night with friends. Having some time to yourself keeps you fresh for your partner.
Psychologists have long established that positive relationships can have a powerful influence on mental and physical health, for better or worse. And recent research is showing that strong, supportive relationships actually improve our biology – they decrease stress hormones and increase our immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems, so they reduce the wear and tear on the body.
A relationship can have an enormous impact on different aspects of your life, from increasing your tolerance and patience to giving you a sense of belonging and increased responsibility. It can boost your self esteem and confidence, it can provide a safety net when you’re feeling low and even the sex and romance can reduce stress levels. But a relationship can also have a detrimental effect if it isn’t managed properly, or if you don’t treat your partner with respect.