“I know you more, and I don’t love you less”
– Dharius Daniels
It takes work to have healthy thriving relationships. Relationships that work see both good days and bad days. They may experience the fire of conflict but still retain openness, love, mutual respect, authenticity, and trust. Sometimes it may seem easier to just give up and move on when there is conflict, but good relationships are ones where both parties are intentional about growing towards relational health despite misunderstandings.
So, how can you cultivate healthy relationships?
1. Know thyself
Before you can ask anyone to be a good friend, you must be willing to be a good friend. Personal reflection allows you to grow in self-awareness. Knowing yourself may begin with making an inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, blind-spots, triggers, world views etc. Ask yourself how these have played out in your other relationships.
Also, how do you react when there is a conflict? Do you ghost the individual, or do you stay and work through the discomfort brought about by conflict?
2. Put in the work
Knowing yourself is an important step in cultivating a healthy relationship but go a step further by seeking out the necessary tools to help you become emotionally healthy. Emotionally healthy individuals often attract emotionally healthy people.
This is because they know their boundaries, limits, are aware of their blind-spots, and can articulate their needs. Putting in the work may look like recruiting a spiritual advisor, life coach, therapist or learning from other external sources what emotional health looks like.
3. Welcome feedback
On your journey to relational health, be comfortable with receiving feedback from safe friends. Hearing that how you are relating is not serving you or your loved ones may come as a shock to you and it may cause you to be defensive but do not let it discourage you.
On the other hand, your friends may point out to you something commendable. Take all this feedback and work on areas of weakness and build on the areas of strength.
4. Express your needs explicitly
Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. It is ok to let your friends know what you need. Do not be tempted to fall into the trap of assuming that your friends will know what you need even without saying it.
Ever heard the statement “If you do not know what I need by now you just don’t know me?” Well, this assumes that the person you are relating with can perceive your thoughts, and the only person capable of this is God. Find healthy ways to express your needs. For example, instead of saying “you just don’t care” you can instead say, it would mean a lot to me if you could come to my event” Then allow the individual the freedom and space to say yes or no.
5. Allow your friends the freedom to grow and thrive
Being a good steward of your relationships means allowing your friends the freedom to have differing experiences, thoughts, ideas, and other friendships besides you. Be the kind of friend who does not get offended when your loved one spends time with others or does activities that do not include you.
6. Set boundaries
A good boundary allows you to keep bad or harmful things out and let the good in.
What are your values? What would you like to see in your relationships?
Being authentic in your relationships means that you can tell your friends ‘no’ and it does not destroy the relationship. Likewise, be willing to hear no from your friends, without feeling the need to control or manipulate their decisions.
7. Use conflict as a transformational tool
I talk about this in a full blog post here
Of course, there are many points to add to this conversation, and I would like to hear from you.
What are some ways you are cultivating healthy relationships?