Our lives are shaped by our relationships – both the ones we have and those we don’t. By the good, the bad, the near, the far, the weird, the difficult, the short, the passionate, the surprising, the ‘I just can’t shake you off’, the informal, the intense, the lifelong, the uncomfortable, the special, and the necessary relationships.
Everybody has relationships, but that doesn’t mean that we all know how best to navigate them. In this guide, OpenUp psychologists Irene Bakker and Mirte Verkuijlen are going to help you on your journey to forming better relationships.
Our relationships make us happy
Relationships are important to us because they make us happy. Study after study shows that our relationships are our primary source of happiness. Additionally, having meaningful relationships is associated with other benefits, such as a stronger immune system, a higher pain threshold, and less likelihood of depression. Happy and healthy people make sure to spend enough time with the people they love.
Simultaneously, our relationships can also make things difficult for us sometimes. We experience all kinds of challenges in our lives and most of them can be traced back to our relationships with others. Friendships, partners, colleagues, family, and neighbors are all sources of happiness, but also sources of struggle. How do you – despite the highs and lows – maintain a lasting relationship with another person?
“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” – John Joseph Powell.
Fun fact: The word relationship comes from the verb ‘to relate’, which means to ‘make or show a connection between’.
6 types of relationships
Any contact you have with another person can be described as a relationship. In general, relationships can be divided into six different types:
- Romantic relationships
- Professional relationships
- Casual or fleeting relationships
- Your relationship with yourself
It’s important to remember that each relationship is different. Each of our relationships give us certain things and no relationship can give us everything we want.
Exercise: Relationship circles
Let’s start by mapping out your various relationships. Draw a dot in the middle of a piece of paper and then draw three increasingly large circles around it, just like in the image below.