Relationships are the basis of human existence.  We all crave comfort, contact and love. We partner off, make families, make friends.  Life would be meaningless without relationships.

But sometimes we take our relationships for granted.  Sometimes we aren’t as kind as we should be to the important people in our life.  Sometimes we even grow distant.

Here are tips on having better relationships:

  1. Own your part–If you did something to cause the relationship to fracture, make your amends and own your part.
  2. Be a good listener–Don’t listen to respond.  Really hear the person.  Take a second, compose yourself, then respond.  If your partner is excited to share something with you, pay attention to them.  Engage with them.  The Gottman’s are very well known mental health professionals and specialize in couples therapy.  They say that the way you respond to your partner is the biggest predictor of a relationship lasting or failing.
  3. Ask ‘What can I do for you?’–If someone you know is struggling, this is quite possibly the most helpful question. By asking what we can do for the other person, we validate their suffering and offer our help, even if they decline it.  Maybe they just need to vent, maybe they need some company.  Maybe they will say nothing, but it can be so impactful to just ask.
  4. Tell people you appreciate them and their actions–“Thank you” only goes so far.  A heartfelt, “I appreciate you” is a phrase that is underused, but one of the key ones.  We appreciate the people in our lives.  We keep them in our lives for a reason.  So let them know; tell them how much you appreciate them.  “I appreciate you” can be so powerful. Don’t take people for granted.
  5. Hug it out–A long, strong hug releases chemicals in your body that make you feel that “lovey dovey” feeling and decreases anxiety.  It creates intimacy, and when you match up it up with deep breaths, it can ease even the worst of fights.  I know it sounds like a long time, but try to do it for 30 seconds for the maximum effect.
  6. Treat others the way you want to be treated–I don’t care if you are religious or not, but this is truly The Golden Rule.  If you want to be the kind of person that people want to be around and interact with, then you need to be treating them with kindness and respect.  In return, they will treat you with kindness and respect. (And if they don’t, that’s not the kind of person you want in your life.)

These are some small things we can do to improve the quality of our relationships.  Some of them seem very obvious, but we often forget and need a gentle reminder because they are so obvious.

For those of use who have suffered trauma or have some kind of disease or disability, or really just without rhyme or reason, relationships are always hard.  There are good times and bad times.

If you find someone you can weather the storm with, someone who loves you at worst and doesn’t try to change you, then you have found love.

For the rest of us, we must learn to love ourselves and then give love to others. As we grow to love ourselves, our relationships will fall into place.

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