The Relationship Green Thumb - Growing Healthy Relationships

Happy RelationshipIt’s that time of year when we are eager to get out and do new things, meet new people and strike up new relationships.  Every now and then we meet someone with which we would like more than a fleeting acquaintance. What are the tips for creating a long and lasting relationship?

First off, and maybe most importantly, don’t expect someone else to make you happy.  We are all working to find our own joy and happiness in life, so don’t set the bar so high that no one will ever meet your expectations.  Enjoy people for what they contribute to your life.

Everybody is different.  Understand early in the relationship what the major differences are and whether you can accommodate them in your life.  They may like cherry pie and you like apple. That’s probably a difference you can live with.  But if you are an atheist and they are a fundamental Christian, there could be some challenges ahead.

Having said that, differences can give you some new life experiences so don’t immediately discount the other person and their friendship!

Be open to different points of view.  If you always need to be right, you will find it difficult to establish friendships. Because other people think they’re right, too! We all experience life differently, form our own opinions and have our own beliefs. No doubt there will be topics on which you two disagree.  You may not come to a mutual understanding about the topic. That’s OK! Learn from the experience and be curious about how people can see the same thing and yet have different opinions.

While we’re talking about learning, see every relationship as a way to learn something about yourself as well as about people in general.  You can learn from every person you meet, no matter how long the relationship lasts. Once you see people and relationships as a learning opportunity, you’ll be more interested in engaging with people.

Trust continues to be the basis for a long-lasting relationship. Sometimes it can be painful to be truthful, but that will never exceed the pain of being “found out”.  Trust is shattered and that’s a hard thing to build back up. From the smallest of relationships to full-blown true love, the amount of trust in the relationship will dictate the outcome.

Learn and practice forgiveness. There are many ways that we can “fail” each other in a relationship just because we are human.  How we deal with these times can be key to the relationship’s success.  Forgive your friend, partner or lover because you will need that generosity yourself one day. Forgiveness is a way of saying “I know there was a tough lesson here”.  Give your relationship some space to recover and move on. 

Know what your expectations are for the relationship and if appropriate, communicate those to the other person.  Let the other person know what expectations are non-negotiable (“No smoking in my new car”) and which ones are (“I like to eat dinner before 8:00pm”). We all have preferences and it is helpful to know which ones you just can’t budge on. 

Make time for each other.  Set aside some time, even if it’s for just a casual friend.  When we constantly deal with people by trying to “fit them in” to our schedule, we send the message that they are not quite important enough to have their own time slot in our schedule.

One final tool for a successful relationship is to support each other. An important reason for having relationships is so we don’t have to walk through this life entirely alone.  The path you’re on will be much more pleasant if you have company!

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