Why Healthy Relationships REALLY DO Matter!
Updated: May 6, 2019
For those of us who are comfortable with doing life solo, and take great pleasure and even pride in our over developed sense of autonomy; being in relationships can be challenging. Relationships at times can feel demanding, overwhelming, and even exhausting. Sometimes it may simply feel easier to be alone, instead of spending time with others. This is especially true for those of us who hang out on the introversion side of the spectrum. Introverts often find being with people emotionally depleting and require quiet time to renew our emotional energy.
Relationships can also be a bit challenging and even emotionally triggering for those who were hurt physically or emotionally in the past. Experiences of relationship hurt can create a type of hyper-vigilance that can make closeness in relationships threatening and cause one to avoid others.
Research continues to support that relationships and connectedness are good for our brains. Healthy relationships trigger the release of necessary neural chemicals, such as Oxytocin, Dopamine, and others, lighting up pleasure centers of the brain and triggering positive physiological responses in our bodies!
You know….that glorious floaty feeling we get when we fall in love? It’s really a THING ya’ll….and let me tell you….. it is powerful! Those darn chemicals will have you walking around in the daytime with a flashlight.
Additionally, as humans, we are beautifully wired for connection and relationship. Our brains development after birth is greatly shaped by the quality of care and attention we receive from our caregivers.
Our adult brains continue to benefit and crave connection though out our lives. We continue to benefit from the care and attention of a close, secure, caring relationship. This can include our partners and spouses, our children, our BFF’s and anyone who is a member of our “tribe”. I suspect this is a evolutionary adaptation that keeps us seeking connection and affiliation.
So, you too are wired for connection.
HEALTHY relationships REALLY matter for you. They can contribute to greater feelings of happiness and joy, less stress, decreased anxiety, improved physical health, and possibly a longer life.
Depending on your experiences and the story you now tell yourself about relationships and connection, maintaining relationships may not always be easy. Even if you are married or in a committed loving relationship, it can still be challenging.
Here are three reasons why being in HEALTHY relationships REALLY matter and why I am encouraging you to take the time and energy to build and nurture your important relationships:
1. Being in relationships with healthy others allows us to have a mirror of ourselves.
It is through the eyes, responses, emotions, and behaviors of others that we can see ourselves most accurately. Believe it or not….our perceptions of ourselves are somewhat skewed, so we can benefit from the honest, loving responses of others in our lives.
It’s kind of like having something in your nose. When you are alone, you might not see it…..but if you have a real friend, they’re going to say, “Uh….girl…you got something hanging out of your nose….here’s a tissue…get it together!”
Our loved ones should help up see our blind spots and encourage us to be our best selves. They should motivate our growth and development and reflect our beauty and inherent worth.
2. Healthy relationships provide us a degree of developmental accountability.
As a single empty nester, I sometimes reflect and think “living alone can be detrimental for me…..it allows me to live in my crazy…unchecked”. While married and raising my kiddos, I was generally mindful of how I interacted and communicated, and strived to be my best self as wife and mom (most days..lol).
This type of striving in our relationships can be helpful. It may encourage us to be mindful of others, humble, kind and require us to be our best selves in service to others and the relationship. These striving ideally keeps us growing and developing throughout our lives.
3. Healthy relationships strengthen our minds and bodies.
Yupp…it is true, healthy, loving relationships are good for us! Our minds and bodies benefit from feeling cared for and connected. Dr. Daniel Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist and leader in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, states that the sense of “feeling felt” in relationships is important to our brain’s development and function. He also asserts that loving relationships alter the brain most significantly.
Do you hear me….loving relationships change our brains….boom….mind blown!
I can certainly appreciate both the benefits and challenges of existing in relationships. Sometimes it really does seem easier to fly solo, unchecked, untethered, and unbothered. However, living in a state of isolation and loneliness is simply not good for us.
The key for many of us is to find balance. To make sure we have a “village” or a “tribe” that looks out for us and loves on us and gently tells us….”you are acting a wee bit odd”. Simultaneously it’s important to nurture a healthy balance of alone time to rest and renew ourselves.
One of my primary goals as a relationship therapist is to help my clients understand the importance of and develop healthy relationships. So, I’m encouraging you to be uber intentional and nurture those healthy relationships. If you are someone who doesn’t feel as if you have quality relationships currently, it’s time to get intentional in developing them.
Now, just a small side note, it’s important to know what makes for a healthy relationship. Be on the look out….I will be talking about that soon.
If you are having some difficulties in any of your significant relationships and need some assistance, let me know if I can be of service to you. Visit www.myfriscounselor.com or call (214) 872-4334 to get more information.