Relationships cover a wide area and we have different relationships with different people depending on the context.
Family; parents, step parents, children, siblings, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins
Friends; close / best friends, aquaintances, hobby / club friends, work friends
Colleagues; boss, manager, co workers, agencies, business clients
Partner; boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, civil partner
Relationships are important to us as humans. In general, we love socialising with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
Having good friends and close family members helps us to get us through tough times. We can vent to them, relax and unwind with them, laugh with them, share funny or shocking stories about our daily experiences and they understand us.
This kind of interaction helps to improve our sense of worth, increases our happiness, reduces stress and improves our mental and physical health.
In return we listen to them, support them, enjoy spending time with them, and them with us.
However, there are times when other responsibilities can be detrimental to our relationships. As we get older we take on more responsibilities. Marriage, living together, children, jobs, bills, tiredness… When there is so much already going on in our lives we sometimes negelect these important relationships.
Our social life dwindles as we spend more time in work, looking after children, do the weekly shop and feel overwhelmed by everything.
It is important at this time that we harness our relationships and spend time with the people we cherish. We forget that all this ‘stuff’ is tiring us out, leaving us stressed and exhausted and this is exactly when we need to share our worries, relax and unwind with friends and family, have fun and laugh.
You may not feel like it but making the effort to see friends and family and spend quality time with them is whats needed for you and for them. They are probably feeling stressed after work too, or they could be feeling lonely and isolated and need to talk and laugh with you.
Make contact, arrange a catch up, stick to it and enjoy yourself.
*At the time of writing, we are in the midst of a Global Pandemic and practising social distancing. Keep in touch via, phone, messenger and Skype to keep your spirits up. Send a card or a letter to show you are thinking of others either by post or via a site like https://www.funkypigeon.com/
Increasing Your Social Circle
Not everyone has a close network of friends or family they are close to, whether that’s living far apart or you just don’t get on.
So how do you find the people who share your interests and your view on life? How do you create a social life?
Join a local club – what do you enjoy doing? You could join an art class, a book club, walking group, volunteer at a community project or charity. Look online, shop notice boards, printed publications to find groups near you. Take a family member or friend with you, make it a time to do something you enjoy with someone you enjoy spending time with.
Talk to people and keep in contact – friends, family, colleagues, neighbours. Its easy to get in the habit of being too busy to talk. The more you talk, the more you find out about others and may come across someone with similar interests that you didn’t know about.
Accept invites – to social gatherings, to group activities, go for that drink, to the gym or for a run with friends.
Re-connect – get in touch with people you havent seen for a while, ask how they are, what they’ve been up to, invite them out.
Online chat groups – although not as effective as real contact, they can help to cheer you up. Find a group you are interested in and search for forums, chat rooms.
*It is important never to reveal too much about yourself online and remember these interactions are just for fun.
Attend advertised events and meet ups locally. https://www.meetup.com has a range of local activities you can search for in your area (UK).
A lack of confidence could make you feel uncomfortable doing this, but it can help if you push through your comfort zone and try new activities. You never know you might just enjoy yourself.
Valued Relationships. Which relationships should you focus on?
The best relationships are ones of mutual respect, care and loyalty.
Not all relationships are easy to maintain and not all are worth pursuing.
You will know the people of worth in your life and the ones who appreciate you. Nuture your valued relationships. Take the time to check in to show you care. Little things go a long way.
Little things you can do for your partner, friend, Mum, sister, brother, Dad, colleague…
- Invite them out for dinner or cook for them
- Buy them flowers
- Return a favour
- Do the dishes at their house
- Take their dog for a walk
- Pick up some shopping on your way over
Quality relationships are the ones where you listen to each other. Listening is a difficult skill for some people, they just want to tell you all about themselves, their opinions and talk over you. If you can’t get a word in, they don’t care about your day or you can’t communicate with them that you find this lack of listening upsetting, this may not be the valued relationship you thought it was.
Mutual interests. Discussions about things that fire you both up is energising, that’s where listening and respect are shown and friendships deepen.
Can you share secrets, personal information with others? Trust is a big issue and you should be able to trust people you are closet to not to share everything you tell them with others.
Helping each other when in need. Having dependable friends and family members gives us reassurance that we are not alone and can ask for help when we need it.
Compromising on activites. Being able to come to an agreement without arguing or one person getting their own way all the time shows real friendship and respect.
Being able to forgive each other and move on is a must for people you value, let go of grudges. If the falling out is so bad, just leave them to it and move on.
Cristicism, sarcasm, put downs. People who do this continually probably have low self esteem but its not something you should ever put up with.
Communication. As with all relationships, communication is important – avoid assumptions and negative internal chatter. If somethings bothering you be honest and talk about it. Keep calm and avoid blaming the person. Focus on their behaviour and explain why it upset you.
Relationships are complex but we can make things easier by being respectful, caring, non-judgemental, forgiving, considerate and kind. And in return value the people who show us the same.
See article – How to deal with difficult people