We need to work to build good relationships and keep them that way. Key ingredients to healthy relationships include respecting and supporting others and having open and honest conversations.
Being able to speak openly about the way you are feeling and, in turn, listening to your partner, friend or family member can strengthen relationships, reduce relationship anxiety, and help to protect your mental wellbeing.
Healthy ways to communicate in relationships
Try to be an “active listener”, which means repeating back to the person what they’ve said to you, or asking for more details if it’s not clear.
Active listening can help you to check you understand what someone is saying to you.
Making an effort to check in regularly can make it easier to manage challenges as they arise, rather than letting them build up.
Perhaps set aside a regular time to talk, or write down how you feel in a message or letter if it feels difficult to say out loud.
A Relationships circle
A Relationships circle can be drawn and developed to help you to map which people are in your life, what their relationship is, and what would be appropriate or inappropriate behaviours with each person.
What it does– It captures who a person knows, how they know them, who else in their circle knows them and how these networks and relationships can help a person to live the life they choose.
How it helps?– It is a way of identifying who is important to a person, and to explore any important issues around those relationships. It feeds into support planning because it highlights those people who should be involved in planning and helps to discover which relationships can be strengthened or supported.
You may feel that a relationship with a friend is closer than family. There are no rules on who goes where, it is about how comfortable you are with reach relationships and where you see them fitting.
Qualities of a healthy relationship
All relationships are different, but there are some qualities that should be present in all healthy relationships:
Communication. You are both able to talk about how you are feeling and express your emotions. You also really listen to how your partner is feeling.
Respect. You respect your partner and they respect you. This includes respecting the right to each have your own thoughts, feelings and interests.
Best interests. You are able to act in line with what is in both your own and your partner’s best interests.
Trust. You trust your partner and they trust you. You can rely on each other.
Equality. What you need and want is just as important as what your partner needs and wants. Both of you are equally valued in the relationship.
These qualities are important in all relationships, not just romantic ones.
How to make new friends as an adult
When it comes to making friends as an adult, it’s important to be positive and proactive. If you go into the process thinking that you are never going to make friends, you probably won’t. And if you leave your social life up to chance, you probably won’t see results either.
Don’t overthink the process of making friends. Instead of worrying about being rejected, or dwelling on the fact that you might not be fun enough, channel your inner child. Be open to meeting new people and having new experiences.
We all want friendships, but it’s hard to take the first step and talk to people for many. Maybe you’ve just moved into a new town, where no one knows your name, and you don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you do have friends, but you want to meet individuals outside of your friend’s circle. Maybe you want to meet someone and hope it blossoms into something more.
In theory, this should be quite easy. You can go outside and talk to someone. However, most of us do not want to bug a stranger, and besides, how do we know they have anything in common with us? There may be an icebreaker in some cases, but there is nothing to work within other cases.
Here are some ways you can meet new individuals, offline and online.
Find Pet Lovers– One way to break the ice with a person is if they’re a pet owner. Everyone loves talking about their animals. If you have a dog, you can go walking or go to the dog park and meet other pup owners. If you’re a cat lover, you can go to a pet store or shelter and talk about cats. Even if you don’t own a dog, you can usually approach someone who has a dog, and they’ll be willing to let you pet it and strike up a conversation.
Join A Book Club– If reading is your thing, then look for local book clubs. Not only can you discover new books, but you’ll have a community where you can discuss the books you read. If you meet individuals who have the same opinions as you, these can be some blossoming friendships.
Religion- One obvious one is to find a local place of worship such as a church, synagogue, mosque, or gurdwara, and meet individuals there. These are typically more than just places to practice your religion; they are places of community. Some people may not even be religious, but still, like the sense of community offered. There is no shame in practicing your faith at home, but it can be better to have people who believe in the same beliefs as you do.
Political Events– Speaking of beliefs, if you align with a political event, look for meetups and events of like-minded people there. Even if you have the same general beliefs, everyone has nuanced opinions that can open to discussion. Just make sure to keep the political debates civil!
Your Neighbours– Your neighbours can end up being great friends of yours. Some people feel like they’re bothering their neighbours, but you have nothing to worry about as long as you are polite.
Volunteer– If you’ve ever considered volunteering, now is a good time to do so. Not only can you do good for your community, get some needed job experience, and get your hands busy, but you can meet people who want to be a part of your community as well, and you can strike up some conversations with them.
In Line– If you’re ever waiting in a line, try talking to the other person. If they’re not doing anything, you may be able to have a conversation with them while you are waiting. What’s even better is being in a line at an event that the two of you have an interest in, such as a convention.
Go To A Concert– Even if you live in a small town, there is probably some concert that pops up. Explore your local music scene while meeting new individuals. It can be a fun experience, and you may find other music enthusiasts too.
Take The Fitness Route– If you love working out or are interested in fitness, you are in luck. There are many ways to meet people if you’re into fitness, including:
- Go to the gym. The gym is usually a community of many of the same people, and by talking to some of the attendees, you can form a bond. Everyone wants to talk about their techniques and tips on how to shed those pounds and get fit.
- Try to go on a hike. Hiking is not only an awesome way to explore nature, but it’s a way you can find other hikers and find new places to hike. Everyone knows a cool hiking place, and they’re often willing to talk about it.
- If you’re into running, you can probably find other runners around. Ask about their routes or how they handle themselves during a run.
- If you travel by bike, you can likely find bikers interested in having partners to bike with them.
Sports- One thing that unites people are sports. You can go to any sports bar and find people interested in the same teams as you, or you can go to a sports game if the bar scene isn’t your thing. Many people are interested in sports, and the competition means that there are diverse groups you can join. Alternatively, you can participate in sports yourself. Go to a basketball court or a tennis court if that’s your thing and play some games with some people.
The Bar/Pub -A few drinks can open many people up to conversation. You can meet some interesting people at the bar, and they often can have stories to tell. If you are over the age to do so, sit down, have a drink, and chat with some people. You may come out with a new friend.
Gaming– If you love to play video games, you may want to look for other gamers. One way to do so is to find local gaming tournaments in your area or go to a video game shop and chat with some people. Many gamers are indoors, but plenty of them are out and about as you are. For board games, go to a comic book shop. You may find tabletop games being set up there all the time.
The Coffee Shop– If you’re a creative type of person, the coffee shop is a good place to meet new individuals and have discussions. You can sit around with a cup of coffee and watch the people come in. Talk to someone who you find interesting or who you have a bond with.
Bring The People To You– Why not try to bring the people to you by hosting an event? You can host a party, a meetup of people who have similar interests, or anything else. Find a place where you can host the event, as most strangers may not want to go to someone else’s house. For example, if you’re into tabletop, host a Dungeons and Dragons event at a comic book shop if they so allow you to.
Online- It’s often easier to meet individuals online, but it may be harder in some situations, especially if you’re looking for local people. There are so many choices to pick from that it’s a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack situation. You could try going to a social media site such as Facebook or Instagram and looking for friends there. Alternatively, you can use apps and dating sites to find local people. Some dating sites are more than just for romance; you can meet new, exciting friends on them as well. You can also look for forums and websites devoted to your town and discuss with people there. Use hashtags related to your area and find new individuals. Another great site to use is meetup.com, where people post events related to a hobby, they may be interested in. It’s not only a good way to find out about your town’s culture but meet individuals who have the same interests as you do. Again, similar interests are the best way to break the ice.
Maintain Your Friendships
After you have established a few connections, it’s important to stay in contact. Friendships are like plants. If you don’t water them regularly, they will die.
So make sure you are regularly reaching out to your new friends. Call or text consistently just to see how they are doing. Ask about their lives. Show an interest in the things that are important to them. A good friend doesn’t make the friendship all about their needs; but also takes an active interest in the other person.
Friendships can enrich your life in many ways. Good friends teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. They encourage you to keep going when times get tough and celebrate your successes with you.
But friends do a lot more than give you a shoulder to cry on; they also have a positive impact on your health. Some research even says friendships are just as important to your well-being as eating right and exercising.
For more information about friendships please see the “Friendship” button – Friendship and Young People section
Communicating with others
Family can be there for you through the good and bad times. You might love spending time with them and have great memories of growing up. They can also be a huge support for your mental health. Family can be there to listen when you need to talk, help you understand your thoughts and what support you need, or spend time with you so that you don’t feel alone.
But we know that every family is different. Things with you and your family may not always be easy or straightforward. And not getting along with them can make life tough.
Friends can be there for you and be an important source of mental health support. But sometimes, you might find that you aren’t getting along, or you no longer feel comfortable in your friendship group.
Relationships, including the one you have with yourself, are vital to our mental wellbeing. People with healthy, positive and supportive relationships are more likely to be happier and healthier.
Creating and maintaining good connections with others can also help to combat loneliness and improve mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety.
Tips on managing stress and anxiety in relationships
Life’s challenges can affect our relationships, as difficult emotions build up sometimes and we get irritable, snappy or withdrawn.
If you are facing a challenging time, being open and honest can help you and everyone around you feel supported.
If you know someone who is going through a tough time, it can be hard or upsetting for you too – so it’s important for you to support them in ways that also protect your mental wellbeing.
Here are 3 little things you can do to make sure you’re taking care of yourself in your relationships.
Set boundaries- Think about what you feel able to help with. Try to stick with this – whether it’s listening or offering practical help like doing the shopping.
Talk to someone you trust– Finding someone outside the relationship that you trust enough to confide in can really help
Take time for yourself- Find time to do something just for yourself. Try to focus on your own hobbies and interests.
Dealing with relationship conflicts
Disagreements are normal, but it can affect your mental wellbeing if an argument is not resolved.
If it’s difficult to talk through an issue calmly, take time out and talk again when everyone involved is feeling calmer.
Questions to help manage conflict
Sometimes, we have strong feelings about something, think we know what someone else thinks, or let our past affect what is happening in the present. It can help to take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:
- What meaning have I given this situation?
- Is there a difference between the facts and my opinion of this situation?
- What advice would I give to somebody else in this position?
- Is there another way to look at the argument?
Working through these questions with those involved might help everyone to understand each other better and explore ways to say or do things differently.
Leaving an unhealthy relationship
It’s OK to leave a relationship that does not feel right, or is having a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
There are organisations that offer advice and support on dealing with the practical and financial issues of a break-up or separation, such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau, if you need it.
If you are experiencing any kind of abuse in a relationship, there is support if you need help.
NHS: Getting help for domestic violence and abuse
If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community you may feel this affects the type of relationship challenges you experience, whether that’s your relationship with yourself or with somebody else.
LGBT HERO has plenty of help, advice and further support for common relationship challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
Communicating in a Romantic Relationship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgrPx0vzAUM
Grooming is when someone builds your trust and makes a connection with you to get you to do something sexual or illegal. Grooming can happen to anyone, and it is never your fault.
Someone could be groomed by someone they know, by a stranger or by a person they met online. That person could be older, the same age, or even someone who’s in a position of authority over you, like a teacher or sports coach.
Because grooming involves using trust against people, it can be hard to recognise when it’s happening. If you’re worried about someone’s behaviour or something that’s happened to you please find someone to talk to.
There are lots of different reasons someone might groom another person. They might try to:
- have sexual conversations or share sexual messages
- get someone to send nudes or sexual images or videos
- take part in live streams or video chats that become sexual
- pressure or threaten someone into selling drugs, hurting other people or doing something illegal
- blackmail someone into giving money, sharing images or giving out personal information
- meet up in person, or travel somewhere new.
Experiencing grooming or being pressured into doing something isn’t your fault. And you don’t have to cope with it alone. Even if something doesn’t involve grooming, it’s okay to get support if you’ve been hurt or made to feel uncomfortable.
Sexting is when you send a sexual message, photo or video to someone else. It could be a picture of you, but sometimes people send pictures and videos of other people.
Messages could be to a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone online.
- being partly or completely naked, or in your underwear
- posing in a sexual position
- sending ‘nudes’ or ‘dick pics’
- talking about sexual things you’re doing or want to do
- doing sexual things on a live stream
If you’ve sent a nude and you’re worried about what might happen, there are things you can do:
- Ask for the message to be deleted- Explain that you’re not comfortable with them keeping the picture and ask them to delete it.
- Don’t reply to threats- Don’t reply to someone trying to threaten or blackmail you, and don’t send more photos. It can be scary, but it can help you to keep in control
- Talk to someone you trust- Talking can be scary, especially if you’re being threatened. But it can also help you get support and stay in control. Find out more about asking an adult for help.
- Use Report Remove to get it removed from the internet- If you’re under 18 and a nude image or video has been shared online, we can help you get it removed from the internet. Find out how to remove a nude image shared online.
- Report what’s happened- If you’re under 18 and you’re worried or being threatened you can make a report to CEOP. Making a report isn’t confidential but it does mean that they can help to stop what’s happening.
- Get help with how you’re feeling- Having a nude shared by other people or being threatened isn’t your fault. If you’re struggling to cope or you don’t know what to do, talk to us.
Getting support when you are over 18
If you’re over 18 and someone’s shared a naked or sexual picture of you without your consent, they’re breaking the law.
Lots of social media sites can take images of you down if you report it, but this may not always happen. If someone is threatening you, or has posted a picture of you online, there’s a special Revenge Pornography Helpline to help people who are over 18.
You can also get support from The Mix.
One reason why you may have trouble meeting new friends is that of social awkwardness. Everyone is a little bit awkward when they first meet, but people with more severe social difficulties may have difficulty taking the first step to meet someone, or they may mess up their words and ruin their chances of meeting new individuals.
Talking to a therapist can help you if you feel like your social skills need improvement. A therapist can look at your hobbies and interests and point you to the right places you can visit. They can teach you how to approach someone and strike up a conversation without coming across as weird. And above all, they can teach you how to be more likable.