Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

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Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

Positive relationships are good for our health. That’s no surprise. We’ve been hearing that for a long time. Happily married people live longer, are healthier and wealthier. In fact, a person’s relationship is the single most important factor in determining mortality. Two researchers, Brooke C. Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University and Nancy L. Collins of the University of California, have discovered some ways that good relationships can also lead to personal growth. The two most important factors are helping use to cope with adversity and helping us to pursue our goals, and other opportunities that cause growth. Good, healthy, strong relationships help those that inhabit them reach their objectives and pursue their dreams. The first person we usually turn to for comfort, and perhaps seek advice from would be our spouse, or significant other. Feeney and Collins liken this process to a home knocked over by a violent storm. The next house erected in its place should be far sturdier. If one person is having a problem establishing themselves for instance their partner may help them to feel more confident. This confidence will help them interact with others, their social networks will become more vibrant and more opportunities will arrive.

Our partner can help us to see what our strengths are. They can help us relieve stress and put things in perspective. Our partner can also help us learn new skills that can help you survive and even thrive at work, school or one’s life passion. Those who are supportive can become a “launching function.” They help their partner pursue their goals. They show them the positive aspects, help them to see opportunities, prepare them to face new challenges, and help them to celebrate victory or to cope with defeat. Feeney and Collins found eight specific ways in which a supportive relationship helps.  Our emotional state improves. Acceptance of one’s self increases and resilience expands. We are better able to perceive and interpret events. Our supportive partners help motivate us toward goals, help us to cope, adapt to new situations and improve our psychological and immune functioning. Positive relationships steer us away from unhealthy lifestyles that may sap our strength, hurt our bodies or minds, not to mention our reputation and mood. Lastly, supportive relationships help people to learn how to trust, feel close to someone and feel loved, positive vibes that carry over in other types of relationships.

So how can you make your relationship more supportive? The best way to do that is to become more supportive yourself. Learn how to listen carefully, be able to accept and understand your partner’s perspective, control your emotions and provide the type of support that will help your partner, and make them feel good. Use your resources. These can be tangible resources like money to say buy your lover a new outfit for an interview. Or they can be intangible ones like compassion, patience and understanding, providing emotional support. Being able to understand your lover’s needs and meet them will motivate them to do the same for you. At the same time, you will want to make sure that you will be able to make your own needs known. Clear communication is pivotal. Reciprocate to show you support them and appreciate the support they give. Then a virtuous cycle can commence, where you both constantly initiate and receive support. Don’t overtax your lover however. If they have many demands at this time, you could be a catalyst in them spreading themselves too thin. You need someone you can rely on. But a strong social network to draw from is important too. To build a supportive relationship, you must first know how to effectively communicate. This is in many cases the hardest skill for couples to develop. If you and your partner need to work on this, pick up a copy of the book, Communication in a Relationship: Top tips on how to improve your communication skills to build a long lasting, loving relationship by Lyn Hunt.

The Kinds of Friends to help you Through a Divorce

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The Kinds of Friends to help you Through a Divorce

When a marriage ends some people want to hole up and never see the light of day again. It’s true that everyone has their own grieving process. But this is a time when you could use the support of family and especially friends. Close friends will validate your feelings, comfort you, make you laugh and give you some insight. They can really help you endure those hard, dark days and aid you in reaching the bright, shining day at the end of this terrible storm that’s settled over your life. Don’t be too shy or too proud to reach out to those close to you. That’s what they’re there for. You’d be surprised how much people want to help if just given the chance. And if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t you be happy to do the same for them? There are different kinds of friends that can help you through a divorce. See if you have any of these in your social circle and be sure to reach out to them in your time of need. A divorce can drive you nuts. What you may need is a friend who’s logical that can show you how things work and tie the loose ends together for you. If you have sudden revenge fantasies, the logical friend will bring up karma. And if you suddenly want to get a face tattoo to celebrate your new singlehood, your logical friend is sure to talk you off of that ledge. This is a good friend to have when the tempests of emotion rock your inner core. Be sure to have one logical friend you can reach out to.

Next, you want the confidant and conspirator. This is the person who will back you up, and throw in a few things when you really need to badmouth your ex. They’ll take you out for a few drinks, maybe even introduce you to some cute singles they happen to know. This is the person you can get loud with, have adventures with, and find reasons to love your life again with. Divorce can feel like part of you was ripped out. It’s important to explore your past and other sides of yourself. That’s why the old friend is a good one to reach out to. You can sit and relax, reminisce with them and get insight into who you were, who you are and who you want to be. The old friend has probably known you a long time and can talk about your other relationships and what patterns emerge, helping you to see what perhaps you brought to the relationship that you should work on to make your next one spectacular. If you met a new friend, why not spend time with them? They can help you develop your new personality, post-divorce. If you have a friend of the opposite sex, don’t steer clear of them. Hang out with them. When you’re ready a little harmless flirting as practice can lift your self-esteem. They can also provide insight from the other gender’s point of view. The fuzzy friend is a great one to have. Dogs and cats know instinctively when we hurt. The gestures that they do and the unconditional love they practice can help heal your heart. Finally there’s the tried and true friend, the one who may be all of these friends combined, the one that’s always at your side. You know they’ll be there when you call. Definitely reach out to that friend. They’ll have you feeling better in no time. For more advice on getting over a divorce, read Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery: 101 Stories about Surviving and Thriving after Divorce by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Patty Hansen.

Signs the Relationship is Right for you

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Signs the Relationship is Right for you

So the relationship is good, you treat each other well and like each other. But how do you know when you met the one or if it is just good for right now? What signs exist to let you know that a relationship is right for you? Here are some indicators. When you have a crisis in your life whether you need to rush the cat to the vet, your way late for work and you get into an accident or you had a bad day and need someone to cheer you up, who do you call? If you call the person you are dating and lean on them when times are hard this is a very good sign that you have a strong bond and a deep relationship. You don’t need them there. You are perfectly confident to move forward on your own. Of course everyone needs a little help now and again. But this is the person you want there when you are having a hard time. Next, what are your insecurities? What about your partner? When one person is shy and another an extrovert this is a good combination. If you are both introverts it may be difficult to get things done, but you can at least support one another. But if you are both vying for the spotlight things will be difficult. If one is messy and the other OCD perhaps moving in together is not right for you. Of course, there are always exceptions. But generally speaking you need to be able to get along with someone, not have the same fights creeping up all the time.

Can you guys have fun anywhere? If you need to have a fancy restaurant or a high stakes poker night in front of you to have fun and excitement, you may need to rekindle the spark. But if you two laugh and are silly on a regular Wednesday night at home, you have a good relationship and you should feel comfortable and confident in it. Do you two find ways to become closer to one another? If you have your own little rituals, routines or sweet things that you do for one another just because you care for one another, hold on and don’t let go. How’s the humor level? Great couples usually share a sense of humor and laugh a lot. Are you two usually positive or negative around one another? Positive couples definitely last, negative couples not so much. One psychologist suggests to do the one to three ratio, saying three nice things about your partner for every negative one. Does your lover make you feel ashamed of the little pleasures you feel you shouldn’t feel guilty about? If not, this person may be for you. If you two can tolerate, even encourage each other’s little quirks, habits, hobbies and interests, then you support and respect one another. What’s better for a relationship than that? Remember that every relationship has its ups and downs, hills and valleys. But it’s important to look at it overall to see where things are really at. For more on this topic read, Is This The One?: Insightful Dates for Finding the Love of Your Life by Stephen Arterburn.

How to Know if He’s Perfect for You

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Love is hard. There is no formula to happiness and each person is different for who they are and who their perfect match may be. Oftentimes we have a checklist of things we want in a mate and then, we meet someone who knocks us for a loop, and tosses that list right out the window. Of course, chemistry is important. But for a relationship to have staying power it needs so much more. No one is perfect. You’ll have to decide what shortcomings you can live with, even come to understand, and those that put your lover in the past affections category of your love story. It can be hard to tell when you’ve found the person that’s right for you. But if he has these qualities he’s sure to be the type of guy you should spend your time with. How do you know when he’s perfect for you? Here’s some relationship advice you can count on. It’s better to fix a relationship by knowing you’re in one with the right person to begin with. Here’s how to know if he’s perfect for you. First, does he see the real you? Does he accept you? If he loves and appreciates you for who you really are, this guy’s a keeper. Whether you like dancing to your favorite song and acting silly while cooking in the kitchen or reading under the covers late at night, he doesn’t try to change you, or even criticize you. In fact, he thinks the silly things you do are pretty great. When this guy says he’ll do something, does he keep his word? If he is always making excuses as to why he can’t make it last minute, give him the axe. But if he always keeps his promises then you should hang on to him.

When you make choices he doesn’t exactly agree with, does he stand by you or sell you out? When you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to help you change a tire in the rain, or someone to give you a critique on your upcoming presentation to the board, can you depend on him or does he disappoint you? If he is there for you and helps out, if he’s supportive and he stands by you, he’s a good one. Is he clingy, always around and smothering you? Or does he give you space? It’s important that each person have their own friends, their own interests and their own lives in a relationship. If he has that and so do you then you are in a good relationship. Is he the jealous type? Does he make things uncomfortable for your platonic male friends or male coworkers? Or does he trust you? Trust is one of the most important qualities in a relationship and if you don’t have it you won’t have a relationship for long. Does he get along with your friends and family or does he cause static? For a good, long-term relationship to work he’ll at least have to be able to play nice. But if there are some qualities your friends and family are warning you about him, perhaps you should listen. How do you two argue? If you are at each other’s throats rather than talking things out in a clear, mature manner than this may not be the guy for you.

Do you find him interesting? Do you two marvel in adventures and long conversations together? Or is the same old stuff all the time for you? Most women want a guy who is supportive but also challenges them, takes them on adventures and expresses love and romance. How does he treat you? Are you treated like a princess or someone who isn’t exactly that important? You should be treated like a princess as you should treat him like your prince. Does he make you feel beautiful, special and loved? If so, hold on tight and treat him right. Is he honest? If he makes little white lies to save your feelings it may not be ideal. If you catch him flat out lying to you, push the ejector button on this relationship. Is he a control freak, OCD or very anal, or can he let things go? A guy who can’t can drive you up a wall. Who wants that? Lastly, does he try to make you the best you that you can be? Certainly there are a lot of nuances that no relationship advice blog can intimately cover. Dating and relationship advice are just an arrow and a list of guidelines to point you in the right direction. But most women know deep in their heart whether or not this is the right man for them. All you have to do is quiet all the other voices and listen carefully and she will tell you. For more, pick up a copy of Are You the One for Me?: Knowing Who’s Right and Avoiding Who’s Wrong by Barbara De Angelis.

Don’t Get into a Relationship with the Emotionally Unavailable

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Are you in a relationship with someone that is emotionally unavailable, or you’re thinking about doing so? Few people have the talent and gusto to tear down another person’s walls. Usually you just end up emotionally drained and frustrated. Without building a deep emotional bond the relationship flounders and you feel hurt and angry, wondering why you put so much effort in and got little or nothing in return. Don’t get into a relationship with the emotionally unavailable. But how do you know who is and who isn’t? What are the warning signs? When someone is inconsistent with their time, or physically unavailable, then he or she is probably emotionally unavailable as well. If you talk for a week straight but don’t hear from him or her for a few weeks after, even a month, this person isn’t just busy. If you were important they’d make time for you. They are instead emotionally unavailable. Is the person you’re dating reliable? If your date says they’ll be somewhere but they never show up, this person’s walls may be too big to scale. When you agree to meet somewhere, or your love interest says that he or she will give you a ride, pick you up, even help you move, but is a no show, that is a telltale sign that this relationship isn’t going anywhere. Don’t expect a long term, healthy, happy relationship with this person. They aren’t at that point in their lives.

Does the person you’re dating share things from their past? If they are tight lipped about their parents, siblings, friends, where they came from and so on, this person isn’t ready for a relationship. What about talking about their feelings? With men especially, this may be hard to do. But if you’ve been dating for half a year and you still don’t know how this person feels inside, you are dating someone who isn’t available emotionally.  Do you guys discuss your relationship together? Are there plans for the future? If not, be warned. With men who are emotionally unavailable, they often pursue women very strongly right in the beginning. But once the woman shows she’s interested, he stops pursuing. In a week or two he’s ready to pull out. If you’ve noticed or experienced this phenomenon in the guy you are dating, steer clear and keep an eye on him. Someone who is emotionally unavailable won’t want to meet your family or friends. He or she may make up excuses on why they can’t. But if you start to notice a pattern, it’s time to probe further. You can do some research online to learn more about emotional unavailability or read one of the many books available on the topic, such as Emotional Unavailability: Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap by Bryn Collins. If the person you are dating says explicitly that they aren’t ready for a relationship, believe them and be ready to move on.