You’re never too old to make meaningful and long-lasting connections with people.
This month we have been discussing the importance of growing and maintaining healthy relationships as we age. There are many benefits to keeping these relationships as important parts of our lives. But what does it take to form those healthy relationships? There are a variety of factors that come in to play. No doubt you share this kind of relationship already with some of your closest loved ones, and you can look at how those relationships have strengthened over the years. But when thinking of how to form new healthy relationships, here are some keys things to keep in mind.
Don’t be selfish.
The most important thing to remember is that relationships are not one-way. Regardless of what you’re looking to get out of a new relationship, it will not be able to grow into a healthy one if you’re only concerned with what you are getting from it. Be aware of what you want from this person and try to provide that to them as well. If it’s a struggle, then you’ll know it isn’t a fit, but with most good relationships are about giving and receiving and it should come easy.
Be ready to listen.
One of the most important aspects of a good relationship is solid communication. You have to feel comfortable talking to this person and, like mentioned above, allow them to feel comfortable doing the same. One very easy way to achieve this is by being a good listener. It’s not just a matter of having a conversation – really consider what it is that their saying and how to respond. What problems are they having? What do they want from you? How can you help? Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything, and it’s just about being there to listen.
Form a mutual trust.
Trust is just as important as communication for every relationship. Without a mutual trust between the two of you, how can you possibly hope to form a meaningful relationship? With that said, trust is something that can only be built over time and it takes a bit of risk. You need to be willing to give them a chance to earn your trust or else there is no trust coming from your end. It is not something you have to rush into but it is absolutely necessary for a healthy relationship.
Put in some effort.
While struggling to communicate might be a sign that the relationship isn’t as strong as you’d like, that’s not to say that healthy relationships are a walk in the park. Like anything you want to build up, it takes time and it takes hard work. Don’t get frustrated and quit at every bump in the road or else you’ll be left searching for a healthy relationship forever. Have patience and be willing to try to keep things strong.
Be willing to make sacrifices.
In the same vein of putting in the work to make a relationship work, you must understand that also means making some sacrifices. It means you dedicate time to the relationship and sometimes it must come at the expense of other things. Now, you might not be willing to make those sacrifices and that might mean the relationship isn’t what you thought it was. But is you’re unwilling to make sacrifices of any kind, then the problem most likely lies with you.
Don’t feel the need to adapt too much.
While sacrifices are necessary, changing who you are is certainly not. Yes, you should be open to new things and you should be accommodating, but if you have to change who you are to fit this other person then that is not a healthy relationship and is in fact quite pointless for you. A healthy relationship means being comfortable being you no matter what.
A common misconception about healthy relationships is finding someone who is just like you. You have the same likes, dislikes, interests, etc. While such similarities by no means guarantee a healthy relationship, finding common ground is important. You have to be able to connect on some level, but it does not have to be as trivial as liking the same music or movies. It goes back to communication and finding some who you connect with enough to be comfortable with them.
When all is said and done, all the work is put in and sacrifices made, a healthy relationship should be fun. You should enjoy spending time with this person, be comfortable and have genuine fun. There are countless people you can form these kinds of relationships with and no need to limit yourself. These relationship enrich life and make it all just a little bit more enjoyable.