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Principles For Healthy Relationships

5 rules that helped me develop meaningful connections

Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash

We are social animals, connecting with others and feeling understood are some of our basic human needs.

Throughout our life, we encounter various relationship dynamics, be it with friends, colleagues, family members, or romantic partners.

While these connections may come with differing expectations and roles, the foundation for fostering healthy, enduring, and meaningful relationships remains the same.

I am certainly not an expert on this topic, and my journey towards understanding empathy and emotional intelligence is ongoing. However, I can offer insights from my personal experience.

Reflecting on both the successes and shortcomings in my relationships has led me to summarize my learnings into 5 guiding principles.

1. Set and respect healthy boundaries

The closer we come to others, the more we lower our barriers and become willing to share. Nevertheless, this doesn’t also mean giving up on our boundaries and private sphere.

Undoubtedly, there will be certain emotions that we might not feel comfortable sharing. Additionally, we will still have other priorities besides our relationships, and there might be instances where we aren’t willing or able to fulfill every request that comes our way.

That is why, for healthy relationships to thrive, it is crucial to understand our values, needs, and priorities, and to set healthy boundaries accordingly. If we don’t, others will cross over our private sphere, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

People treat us the way we allow them to treat us.

Establishing boundaries shouldn’t make us feel guilty or ashamed. Not everyone will fully comprehend our needs, but it’s not something we should worry about. While we can’t control others’ opinions, we should focus on avoiding actions that may hurt their feelings.

By selflessly caring for others, we will for sure avoid causing any hurt. However, to be able to do so, we need to prioritize our own needs first.

Failing at it might lead us to act kindly solely with the expectation of others meeting our needs in return, which doesn’t form a solid basis for healthy relationships.

To selflessly care for others we need to selfishly take care of ourselves first.

It’s essential to acknowledge, that we all have different individual needs. When others request time and space for themselves, we should not take it personally, but rather understand and be accommodating.

What might seem unnecessary to one person could hold significant importance for another.

2. Share experiences and emotions

The older we get the more barriers we build. Kids are authentic the moment they meet, adults need much more time. For meaningful connections, we need to learn to be more authentic faster.

Authenticity comes by getting to know someone better, to do so it is important to experience meaningful moments together.

Creating good memories, developing common friendships, and sharing thoughts and emotions is the fastest way to break all the barriers we tend to build as adults.

Developing meaningful connections is an art. It’s not only about us sharing our vulnerabilities but also about making others feel comfortable lowering their barriers.

Others will only feel safe to share their thoughts and emotions if they feel understood. To make them feel so, we need to be good listeners.

Our goal should be to understand the others’ point of view, rather than thinking about what to answer. We should shift the focus from us to them.

People want to feel understood first, before hearing someone else’s point of view.

3. See relationships as an investment

As kids and students, we don’t have to put much effort into maintaining relationships. We meet our friends regularly at school or during extracurricular activities, and, if we are lucky, we receive unconditional love and support from our parents.

Once we grow up and start working, maintaining relationships becomes more complicated. We are more busy and need to actively find the time to meet and talk to our dear ones.

Maintaining meaningful relationships requires effort, time and discipline.

We should not associate relationships solely with leisure, expecting to be entertained or supported without reciprocating the effort.

Relationships only work if we are ready to invest time and energy in them without expecting anything in return.

Of course, the time we spend with our dear ones doing things we want is always beautiful, however, we also need at times to do things we don’t necessarily love with or for the people we love.

Is it helping others to move out, listening to their problems, or accompanying them to events we are not interested in, we need to be there because we know it is the right thing to do.

Maintaining a relationship also means reaching out to someone after months of silence, being the first to apologize, or helping someone through a difficult time.

4. Prioritize genuine interest

When prioritizing who to spend our time with, we may evaluate many factors. We may consider physical appearance, shared interests, intelligence, or popularity.

However, when building meaningful relationships, our most important question should be: Does that person genuinely care about us?

Prioritizing more superficial aspects will only lead us to invest time and energy in the wrong people.

Nobody is perfect. We are not and so are not the closest people in our life. They will always have some flaws, being irritating at times, but if they are genuinely interested in us, we can be sure that they will always be there for us.

If people genuinely care for us and want to keep us in their life, so should we before we lose them.

Just like we should prioritize genuine interest when choosing who to surround ourselves with, so should we focus on showing genuine interest in the people we want to keep in our life.

As long as we genuinely care and take the time to understand the other’s point of view, nothing will prevent us from developing meaningful connections.

5. Accept and embrace change

People constantly change through new experiences or by starting a new phase in life. Change is inevitable, and the people close to us don’t necessarily change at the same speed and at the same time we do.

It can be hard and frustrating to see someone we care about changing interests, moving out, or just spending less time with us.

However, this shouldn’t be a reason to stop a relationship. Instead, it should be a great opportunity to expand our horizons.

As long as we remain genuinely interested in others’ developments, change can only strengthen our relationships.

Change is also a growth opportunity. Supporting someone through a period of change, or embarking together on a transformative journey can only help to further connect.

Developing lasting and meaningful connections is not easy and it takes time. The key is to selflessly care for those who deserve it.

Selflessly caring for others means prioritizing their well-being over the benefits we would get from them. We can care for others only if we are capable of letting them go if that is what they need.

All we can do is to be grateful and enjoy the beautiful time we can spend with them.

Life is like driving a bus. We decide where to go, which stops to make, and who to let in. But we can’t force anyone to join or to stay if they don’t want to.

Learning how to drive smoothly and to take care of our passengers though, can help to make them join the ride and stay longer with us.

Emotional Intelligence
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