Relationships thrive on affection and mutual companionship, whether these companions are lovers, parents, children, spouses, or ourselves. A great relationship isn’t all about giving or getting physical objects or wants and needs (apart form physical affection) met either. Calm and peaceful relationships with those close to us can and will lead to better sleep, less stress, and an overall feeling of well being and high-self esteem, for all parties involved.
One of the biggest relationship killers is the expectation of reciprocity when giving anything – time, affection, romance, love, food, or other needs. Giving without expecting the other person to do a favor of any kind will boost relationship morale. It makes the other person feel less used and more wanted.
All too often kids and parents use chores, gifts, or favors to get what they want out of each other. While it is good to use chores and money to teach responsibility, doing it with the intent of “I did this, now do something for me” teaches the wrong motivation for interpersonal relationships. Couples fall into this trap, too, expecting cuddles, romance, and affection to lead to favors in return. Instead, offer affection without any expectation of return.
It is too easy to criticize our children, friends, mates, or parents when they do something we do not agree with. Being there for them no matter the outcome, while providing emotional support and guidance only when requested, can build more into the relationship than criticism. Some limits do need to be set for self-preservation and to avoid becoming an enabler of self-destructive behavior. However, under healthy circumstances, unwavering support boosts self-esteem in both individuals, building a healthy relationship.
Make Personal Changes
We frequently expect kids, partners, family and friends to change to fit our preconceived notions of them and the relationship. However, the only person we need to change is ourselves. By changing the way we react, interact, and our attitudes, we can change our perception of the entire relationship.
The Art of Connection
Connecting within relationships is an art form that has to be done with sincerity. For instance, instead of greeting with a short-lived, loose hug, greet “hugger” friends or children with lingering bear hugs. Instead of giving romantic partners a simple peck on the cheek or forehead, lean in and connect by touching their arm or shoulder and let the kiss linger. Show affection with real meaning and emotion. Feel the affection, feel the action, feel the gestures with sincerity and emotional energy.
Remember to never force affection on anyone, and teach children to ask before hugging. Asking permission is a healthy way to show emotional maturity and can go a long way in leading by example and setting boundaries that reach into other areas of life, for all relationships involved.