Whether you’re single or in a committed relationship, your relationships shape many aspects of your life. A good relationship can boost your self-esteem and confidence, provide support when you need it and offer a sense of belonging. However, a bad relationship can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. It’s important to understand that not all relationships are created equal.
Generally, there are four types of relationships: family, friendships, acquaintanceships and romantic relationships. Some of these categories overlap and coincide with one another, for example, people can be both friends and acquaintances. Other more nuanced relationships include work relationships and community or group relationships.
Relationships are a fundamental part of human existence. Theories suggest that the need for social attachment is innate, and that healthy relationships are essential to survival. People who have strong family and intimate friendships are happier, less stressed and healthier than those with weaker ties to others. Several studies have shown that married people live longer than their unmarried counterparts, and those in strong marriages report greater levels of happiness, satisfaction with life and contentment.
A healthy relationship is marked by natural reciprocity. This means that you give and receive affection, attention, trust, energy and love in a proportion that feels balanced to you. When conflicts arise, you can resolve them by communicating effectively and listening to your partner. It is important to double check that you have understood what the other person is saying so that misunderstandings do not occur.
When you’re in a committed relationship, the goal is to ride the waves of life together. People lose jobs, family members die, careers change and couples move around a lot. The key is to remain true to your commitment, because the real love is not in the destination, but in the journey.
Loving relationships can take many forms and will be classified differently by each person’s needs, desires and lived experience. These relationships may be platonic or romantic, and can involve or exclude sex or intimacy. They can also be long or short-distance.
Some relationships are codependent. A codependent relationship is a cyclical, recursive pattern of behavior in which two or more people attempt to meet their needs by sacrificing themselves for the other. The resentment and narcissism that often develop in these relationships can be toxic to both parties. Codependent relationships are often difficult to break, and can be very difficult for loved ones of the people involved to observe or admit to.
Other relationships are stable dyads, in which the two individuals share a close bond and mutually benefit from the relationship. In this type of relationship, people learn how to manage conflict and compromise in order to meet their shared goals and needs. They may also learn how to make and keep promises, respect each other’s views and values and act as a team. This type of relationship is considered to be more mature than a casual dyad and can help individuals reach their full potential.