Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Human beings are social beings so it is really no surprise that good relationships can help us thrive. There are also many different categories of relationships that help us thrive in different ways such as intimate, platonic, social, family, friends, work and many others. Thinking of this can also make us realise the differing roles we play in each of these relationships and how we integrate these into our one ‘self’. Whilst they all would have an essence of what we see as our core ‘self’, there are also certain little extras we may add on or take away depending on who we are with and the context we are in.
If we were to look at the definition of ‘relationship’, it asks us to consider not only the way in which two or more people are connected, but also the feelings and behaviours within that connection. So taking into account all the complexities mentioned above, most of us do pretty well in maintaining many different relationships. Through this, we also learn many things about our boundaries, how we affect others and most importantly, the kind of people that enrich our lives. How do you feel when someone makes you laugh? When someone enlightens you with some knowledge? When someone makes you feel upset? When someone makes you feel loved? Do you feel differently depending on the relationship?
There is much we can learn from relationships as well a lot we can contribute. This would also indicate that relationships thrive best when all members are actively participating in its maintenance. So how exactly do we do this?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this but if we are talking about enrichment, thriving and growth, it may be best to look at relationships like caring for plants. There are many different plants that thrive in different environments and conditions. Some need lots of sun, some do not. Some can survive with very little water, others need watering every day. Some need pruning now and then to thrive, some thrive best when they are just left to grow. Sometimes, conditions are just not conducive to growth at this particular time and some just do not grow no matter how much time is spent on maintenance. Different plants need different maintenance, and the environment may be a determining factor in what exactly they need.
In essence, the ways we can successfully maintain a relationship can vary due to many things and may not be a set formula. Relationships can make you feel like you are anywhere on a spectrum from the ‘head of maintenance’ to part of a well-oiled machine.
In any case, it is also crucial to acknowledge that we must find a way to balance our contribution to relationships for the maintenance of our own well-being. We may need to take a little more at some stages whilst giving a little more to support other members when needed. Generally speaking, if all members contribute empathy, honesty, communication, consistency and respect to the relationship, it has a pretty good chance of thriving.
Good relationships contribute a great deal to our well-being by giving us a chance to explore and understand our world, ourselves and others through our bonds and interactions. We may also be able to gather a greater sense of meaning in our lives through relationships which in turn, help us see clearer paths forward.