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Published on November 21, 2018

What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One

What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One

You probably think that couples that have a good relationship don’t fight, rarely go to bed angry, spend all their time together and are super romantic. This is the mindset that makes many couples feel defeated in their relationships, especially when they are going through conflict.

Just because you disagree with your partner every once in a while; or probably a little bit more than that, doesn’t mean that you cannot have a great relationship. Even the almost perfect relationship experiences misunderstandings, arguments, and disputes.

Your relationship is one of the most crucial components of your life. Many people put all their effort on the flirting and the dating, and then totally ignore their relationship once they are together. Developing and maintaining the relationship with your partner is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Your relationship affects your stress levels, health, and happiness. No relationship is perfect all the time. However, connecting with your partner emotionally, physically and romantically is such a fantastic thing that it deserves all your effort. Here are some tips for building a healthy relationship:

1. Communicate with patience

Communication is one of the essential qualities of a great relationship. Unfortunately, experts indicate that many couples do not know how to communicate appropriately; or even communicate at all.

Healthy couples vocalize their love for one another. They take time to discuss their feelings, and they don’t leave their partners trying to figure out what’s going on. When partners make assumptions, expectations are set and just as quickly, they are deflated. The unmet expectations then leave partners questioning the viability of the relationship.[1]

Partners in a healthy relationship discuss even the most challenging subjects and agree to disagree. They know that they will not always see eye to eye and that’s ok. They, therefore, respect each other’s opinions and ideas.

They talk about sex openly and honestly. When partners tell each other what they find enjoyable and what they don’t like, they have better sex and, consequently, have a stronger relationship.

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Some couples even go as far as seeing a counseling service. Your insurance may even cover a set amount of sessions per year. So if your paying for them why not use them. Otherwise the cost is anywhere from $5 to $300 per hour,[2] this typically depends on your location and any entitlements/benefits you are eligible for.

2. Compromise

Every relationship will be punctuated by conflict. It is not a conflict that affects your relationship, but how you handle issues. The most crucial element in solving the conflict in your relationship is compromise.[3] You cannot be the one who is right all the time and it shouldn’t be you who always has the answers.

Keep an open mind, and you will be surprised at how a bit of compromise can go a long way.

3. Appreciate often

Many times, couples fall into patterns and take for granted all the things that their partners do for them. Notice all the small things that your partner does for you and thank them.

Appreciation is an excellent motivator to your partner, and it generates positive feelings within the relationship. Also, when you consciously practice appreciation and gratitude, you will focus more on the good instead of fixating on the negatives, and you will be much happier in your relationship.[4]

4. Always respect each other

Your relationship with your partner will thrive if you both feel respected by each other.

Respecting your partner comes in many forms: being mindful of their feelings, beliefs, time, and trust.

Conversely, many things can break down the respect in your relationship:[5]

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  • Name calling
  • Talking negatively about your partner to friends and family
  • Threatening to leave the relationship

5. Allow for personal space

Your relationship will be healthy if you allow room for each other to foster individuality. Allow each other time for friends, family, hobbies and other individual interests. This will help you and your partner to not only maintain separate identities but also nourish a healthy sense of self.

Spending all the time together might not only make you and your partner feel as if you are suffocating in the relationship but will also create an unhealthy co-dependence.

6. Be each other’s rock

Everyone goes through tough times, and when your partner is experiencing a personal challenge, your support can make the world of difference.

Also, no matter how independent you are, teach yourself to lean on your partner for support. Going through hard times together will bring you closer and strengthen your relationship.[6]

7. Be responsible for your happiness

Sometimes, partners expect too much from each other. People who were never happy hope to be happy because they are in a relationship; those who were never confident hope to feel confident; those who never felt they had value expect to feel valued just because they are a couple.

Unfortunately, looking to your partner to provide you with happiness and self-worth will lead to gross disappointment. It is entirely in order to expect your partner to treat you well, but your happiness and self -worth should come from within.

8. Learn more about each other

Who is your partner really? What excites him/her? What are their goals and dreams? You can become consumed by what you think your partner needs as opposed to knowing what truly resonates with them.

Remember, what your partner wants does not have to make sense to you: you just have to understand it.

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9. Learn to validate your partner’s feelings

Validating your partner increases the emotional security of your relationship, which is a crucial component of a healthy relationship. Listen to your partner without the urge to analyze, solve or fix things.

Even when you do not understand your partner’s point of view, you can always say: ‘I hear you!’

Validate your partner’s feelings unconditionally, and you will help them feel that you are a safe ally and that they are not alone. No feelings are invalid.[7]

Here’s why your lover doesn’t want your advice, but your validation.

10. Check in with each other

At the end of a long day, the standard question between couples is: ‘How was your day?’ Generally, the question will yield a superficial answer such as ‘Fine. How was yours?’ This will not in any way improve the connection between you and your partner.

Instead, ask questions like ‘What was the most challenging part of your day? And you will be amazed at how much insight you will gain into your loved one.

Seek to become an expert on your partner, and you will find it much easier to make them happy.[8]

11. Fight appropriately

Disagreeing is perfectly healthy. Just because you are fighting does not mean that you do not love each other or that you are headed for a breakup. You merely have a difference of opinion.

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Remind yourselves that you are on the same team. Negotiate your disagreements successfully by assuring yourselves that ultimately, you want the same outcome: peace and fulfillment in your relationship.

When you have things in the right perspective, you will not attack or intentionally hurt each other during arguments. Instead, you will strive to understand each other and work towards a solution.

12. Sleep on it

If you realize that your argument has hit a dead end, shelf it to another time; the next morning or later in the day. However, experts recommend that do not wait longer than a full day to revisit the issue.

13. Keep things interesting

You will change over and over again in the course of your relationship and so will your partner. Keep things in your relationship interesting by trying new activities and breaking out of your normal routine.

Seek to stay attractive with each other not only physically, but also intellectually. Bring new ideas and perspectives into your relationship and bring up topics that are genuinely engaging to your partner.

Learn from this article how to keep the spark alive in a relationship.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, if you want to build a great relationship, aim to make your partner feel good about themselves. The times your partner spends with you should not make them feel apprehensive but excited and energized.

The secret is to ensure that the good times in your relationship are more than the fights and the arguments. Your relationship should not feel like a second job, but a source of pleasure, fun, and comfort. You should look forward to being together after a long day at work.

Finally, do not compare your relationship with others: their homes, jobs, vacations. Things are seldom what they look like.

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

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Randy Skilton

Randy is an educator in the areas of relationships and self-help.

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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