Positive and respectful relationships of all kinds are fundamental to physical and mental health and wellbeing. However, the relationships with partners and family members who live with you with can have the most powerful effects. These types of relationships provide a source of companionship, intimacy and social support. They also connect you to a wider social network and reduce financial stress. This can influence health in many ways.
Healthy relationships make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life, improve feelings of security, belonging and self-worth, give confidence and support you to try new things or learn more about yourself, reduce stress levels and suicide risk. These relationships can also influence health behaviours like alcohol and tobacco use, exercise and diet.
Signs of a healthy relationship
For relationships to have a positive effect on your health, it’s important to be aware of the behaviours that create and take away from healthy relationships. A positive and respectful relationship is possible when both people:
• trust and respect each other
• protect and value the relationship
• listen to each other and compromise when needed
• are responsible for their own needs
• speak openly, and share thoughts and feelings
• set boundaries for the relationship.
It’s normal to have ups and downs in a relationship – relationships, and people, change over time. Your relationship is not healthy if one person has more power than the other, or if that person is physically, verbally or emotionally abusive or violent.
Nurturing your relationships
There are lots of ways that you can improve the quality of your relationships in order to build positive and respectful relationships. Nurturing your relationships can include:
• making the relationship a priority
• being affectionate and showing appreciation
• developing shared interests
• making plans for the future
• practising active listening
• saying sorry when you’re wrong
• setting aside time to devote your attention
• trying not to be defensive, judgemental or critical
• trying to find solutions that help both of you
• working on feeling good about yourself