Graphic created by Evan Brooks using Wix.
The relationships we hold and create throughout our lives will not only shape ourselves but everyone we interact with. The importance of understanding how to build healthy relationships on all levels is a life skill just as much as it is a social one. Some relationships we are born into, others we attract and most are by chance. How we start and then continue to grow a relationship will mold you as a person and determine many aspects of your life.
Now, as a disclaimer, I do not claim to be an expert in relationships, but I have had enough experience that I believe I can pass on a few important pieces of wisdom. The most important of that wisdom — and the most talked about — are communication, honesty and trust.
It is almost certain that those three characteristics of a model relationship are known to you, but what do they really mean and entail? Communication doesn’t just mean being able to talk to each other when you are angry, but to be able to ask certain questions when things are going good and before the fighting starts, such as how do you fight: when you get angry, do you need a second to be alone, or do you need to talk it out immediately, and what are lines that should not be crossed?
By having important and proactive conversations like those, your relationships will grow from arguments instead of shatter. Arguments will happen; fighting is a part of every relationship, and if the fighting terms are not previously dictated by both parties, then they will be destabilizing to the foundation of the relationship.
In terms of honesty, it begins and ends with you. If you cannot be honest with yourself on anything and everything, then you cannot expect to be able to be honest to another individual. Invest the time in yourself so that in any situation that may occur, you can be honest with how you feel, what is going on and what you need to do.
Trust often goes along with honesty; if you can’t trust in who you are and what you are capable of, then how is another person supposed to believe in you? It takes owning up to past mistakes, not to feel guilty, but to be responsible for your actions and to accept the steps needed to make it right. Trust is a cornerstone in all relationships; do not take it lightly, because once broken it is nearly impossible to retain.
Evaluate all three aspects — communication, honesty and trust — when looking at your current relationships. By evaluation, the health of your relationships can be assessed and dealt with appropriately. In an article published by the Amherst College Counseling Center, it is stated that “healthy relationships have been shown to increase our happiness, improve health and reduce stress.”
Being in a relationship of any kind that is more of a detriment to your own wellbeing when compared to the good it provides should be vacated. Some tips for ensuring all of your relationships are healthy can be found in the Amherst article. To see how healthy or unhealthy your relationship may be, it often takes an outside look at it, whether it is you taking a step back to see or a friend or family member looking at it from an unbiased perspective.
Relationships can be as complicated as you want to make it, but all forms of them take time, energy and the willingness to grow alongside the other person.
Evan Brooks is a third-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civil & Professional Leadership. EB916132@wcupa.edu.