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Al Douglas

Why Relationships Matter

Why Relationships Matter


Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. There are many kinds of love, but many people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner (or partners). For these individuals, romantic relationships comprise one of the most meaningful aspects of life and are a source of deep fulfilment.

While the need for human connection appears to be innate, the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is learned. Some evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship starts to form in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, warmth, protection, stimulation, and social contact. Such relationships are not destiny, but they are theorized to establish deeply ingrained patterns of relating to others. The end of a relationship, however, is often a source of great psychological anguish.

To learn more, see Personality and Relationships.


How can people who had rough childhoods build healthy relationships?

It can be hard to establish relationships after a rough childhood, but many find a way, and no one should assume they will never find love. People raised in chaotic homes may be reluctant to speak up for themselves or to demand what they need from a partner. Becoming conscious of why they’re reluctant to advocate for themselves is a crucial step toward overcoming those tendencies and finding a connection.

How to Build a Healthy Relationship

Maintaining a strong relationship requires constant care and communication, and certain traits have been shown to be especially important for fostering healthy relationships. Each individual should, for starters, feel confident that their partner is willing to devote time and attention to the other. They must both also be committed to accommodating their differences, even as those change over time.

In the 21st century, good relationships are generally marked by emotional and physical fairness, particularly in the distribution of chores necessary to maintain a household. Partners in strong relationships also feel grateful for one another, openly provide and receive affection, and engage in honest discussions about sex.

In good relationships, partners try to afford their partner the benefit of the doubt, which creates a sense of being on the same team. This feeling, maintained over the long term, can help couples overcome the challenges they will inevitably face together.

To learn more, see Maintaining a Relationship and Love and Sex.


Does your personality type predict your relationship success?
Your personality predicts your romantic life but some traits are more strongly linked to success than others. Someone who is especially high in neuroticism, for example, may struggle to maintain relationships, and take longer to recover after a breakup, while being high in consciousness and agreeableness tends to predict more relationship success. Extroversion is generally tied to positive long-term relationships, but being adventurous is not.


How to Find Love

Chalermchai Chamnanyon/ Shutterstock

Finding a partner with whom to share a life is a wonderful but frequently difficult process. Whether it’s conducted online or in-person, the search will likely push an individual into unfamiliar settings to encounter potential partners. To be successful, it is often necessary to go outside of one’s comfort zone.

Determining whether a particular person is suitable as a potential mate and whether a connection reflects temporary infatuation or true love, can challenging, but research suggests that there are revealing clues in behaviour.

One possibly counterintuitive indicator of a potential match is one’s sense of self. Someone who would make a good partner may push an individual to discover new activities or beliefs that expand their own self-concept. Another early signifier may be stress: Repeatedly interacting with someone whose impression matters deeply to us can fuel anxiety. Other positive indicators include being highly motivated to see the person and investing a significant amount of time, emotion, and energy into the budding relationship.

To learn more, see How People Find Love.



Can introverts and extroverts maintain a relationship?

Introvert-extrovert couples can thrive if each is willing to accommodate the other’s emotional needs. Extroverts may need to be patient with their partners, and respect their right to quiet or alone time. Introverts, for their part, should not avoid important discussions and understand that their partners are entitled to opportunities to be outgoing and social.

How Relationships Fail

Every relationship represents a leap of faith for at least one partner, and even in the happiest couples, the very traits that once attracted them to each other can eventually become annoyances that drive them apart. Acquiring the skills to make a connection last is hard work, and threats may spring up without notice. In short-term, casual relationships, neither partner may see a truly viable long-term future together, but often only one takes action, in some cases ghosting the other, walking out of their lives with no communication, not even a text.

For some couples, infidelity is both the first and last straw, but a surprising number of relationships survive betrayal, some only to have their connection upended by everyday threats such as a loss of interest in physical intimacy, or a waning of positive feeling in the wake of constant criticism, contempt, or defensiveness. Even staying together for decades is no guarantee that a couple will remain connected: The divorce rate for couples over 50 has doubled since 1990.

Some people can walk away from years of marriage and instantly feel unburdened. For others, the end of a relationship that lasted just a few dates can trigger emotional trauma that lingers for years. However a breakup plays out, it can be a major stressor with an effect on ego and self-esteem that cannot be ignored.


Personality Disorders in Relationships

People living with personality disorders can struggle to manage the give and take of relationships, especially the frequent minor conflicts common to most romantic partnerships. Fearing abandonment, or averse to giving in, they may cling to partners or push them away when they feel their connection is threatened. Working to achieve healthy, secure attachment with a partner and to trust in their support can help make relationships workable.

For more, see Personality Disorders.

Can people with depression maintain long-term relationships?

People with depression rely on their partners to balance their own sadness and feelings of low self-esteem and even to help reverse their dark moods. And in fact, research finds that a healthy, committed relationship, over time, does buffer the symptoms of depression and that having a supportive partner makes treatment for depression more likely to succeed. But a relationship that does not meet those criteria can make symptoms even worse.


How can changes to the brain change a relationship?

Changes to the brain can have a profound effect on one’s relationship. A stroke or other brain trauma can in some cases make someone suddenly much more loving, or in more troubling cases, highly sexually compulsive. Rehabilitation, however, can help to manage symptoms that move people far from their baseline personality.
Author – Psychology Today Staff
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