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Stronger Bonds

10 Simple ways to cultivate healthy relationships

Martine Foreman
Martine Foreman January, 15, 2020

Book-lover, mom, kickboxer, motivator, dreamer 

There's no question that healthy relationships have a positive impact on your life. However, it takes rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work to develop (and maintain) those connections — and that often stops some people in their tracks. It can seem like a monumental task! We get it.

But, whether you're struggling with a colleague who takes the credit for your work or a mother-in-law who doesn't respect your boundaries, knowing how to have a healthy relationship with others is a skill that can ease even the trickiest situations.

Here are 10 strategies for cultivating healthy relationships with people in every area of your life.

1. Communicate clearly

Good communication lays the groundwork for all other good things in a relationship. Be clear and up front about how you feel, what you need and what you can give. The clearer you are, the better the relationship is likely to be.

2. Carve out quality time

Every time you add a task to an already long to-do list, it's a reminder that you really only have time for things if you make time for them. This is truer of relationships than most things. Yes, life is hectic, but it's still a good idea to carve out small pockets of time to connect with the people who matter to you. Try squeezing in a phone call, a meal or even just a quick text when you're feeling a little disconnected.

Two female friends talking at a coffee shop3. Be present

When you spend time with someone, make sure you're really with them. Enjoying a movie at home with your family is a great way to connect, but if everyone is scrolling through their phones instead of joking around and engaging with the plot, it's not exactly quality time spent together. Being present physically, mentally and emotionally for the people around you can go a long way — and make it more likely that they'll follow suit.

4. Address concerns head-on

When conflict arises with a colleague, friend or partner, your impulse may be to sweep it under the rug or downplay its effect on you. But when unresolved issues fester, resentment often sets in! One of the most important elements in figuring out how to have a healthy relationship is not just taking the initiative to communicate but learning to address issues without sacrificing or minimizing your feelings.

5. Fight fair

When tensions are high, it can be tempting to bring up old grievances and hurt other people's feelings in the heat of the moment. However, doing so doesn't actually fix anything. Remember that in most cases, the person isn't the enemy — the conflict is. Fighting fair is the better way to resolve whatever the problem may be.

6. Practice empathy

Putting yourself in another person's shoes and seeing the world from their perspective can help you understand what might be going through their head. You'll find that there's usually an explanation for why people act the way they do, even if they don't make it immediately clear to you.

7. Set boundaries

Relationships don't work too well without established boundaries. Keep in mind that it's totally fine to say "no" to some things, and you don't need to feel obligated to explain all of your decisions. Simply be kind and feel confident in sharing your limits; creating healthy relationships banks on mutual respect.

8. Let yourself relax

Office parties, neighborhood cookouts, adventures with your family and nights out with your friends are just some of the ways you can let loose and bond with others. Yes, learning how to have a healthy relationship can sometimes be hard work — but for your bonds to strengthen, it helps to savor the good times!

9. Learn to compromise

Some things aren't negotiable, so it's best to learn to pick your battles. In most cases, you should hear the other person out and try to meet in the middle. There's a chance they'll be receptive to your goodwill and follow suit.

10. Have reasonable expectations

Take a moment to think about what you expect from the people in your life. Now ask yourself if those expectations are reasonable. That's not to say that you should let just anything slide, but if you have higher standards for others' behavior than for your own, consider reframing the way you look at things.

You shouldn't settle for an unhealthy relationship simply because it's easy. These principles can help you strengthen your personal bonds in a meaningful way, no matter who they're with!

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