Types of Relationships
Everyone reading or listening to this can say they have been in a relationship. Some may argue “I’ve never had a partner before.” My response to them is have you ever had a friend? Maybe a neighbor? Parents or someone you viewed as a caregiver? Have you had a pet or a teacher? Relationships are not limited to romantic partnerships. You can have a relationship with anyone from your mother, friend, supervisor, your terrible ex, the stray cat that keeps coming over for food, and most importantly with yourself. This is a subject that comes up almost daily in mental health treatment.
The Lessons of Relationships
The relationship you have with others and yourself is very relative and important. A need for connection appears to be innate as well as learned. Some research shows that the ability to form this connection (relationship) comes from infancy, in that the caregiver reliably meets the infant’s basic psychological needs (food, shelter, etc). As they get older, they engage in relationships that essentially shape who they are. Who agrees that we learn something from everyone we meet? This could be lessons after heartbreak, trust/distrust, a new music artist, or that the parent that was supposed to show us the way didn’t.
The Core Values of Relationships
There are core values in any relationship you are in. These core values are respect, communication, trust, commitment, and companionship. When we break down each value, we see that each one is complex in and of itself. Respect can encompass being kind, polite, thankful, affirming, listening, and respecting boundaries. Additionally, communication is expressing your emotions, paying attention, learning to manage your emotions, and being intentional. Looking at trust, we learn that it also means being open, honest, acknowledging your partner’s feelings, and giving your trust that they have good intentions. We see commitment broken down to showing the person having loyalty, expressing appreciation, working as a team, agreeing to disagree, and showing love. Lastly, with companionship, we simply know we enjoy being around this individual, have common interests, and learn/grow from one another.
A Working Example of Core Values
Let’s look at this theme specifically with that stray kitten. This kitten has been hanging out around the back porch. At first, you might be wary thinking they might have a family or fleas. The next day we look at this kitten a little closer, they don’t have a collar and seem thin for their size. You think, maybe I’ll pick up some food for that kitten. That night you leave out some food on the back porch and watch as the kitten slowly walks forward and slowly/cautiously eats the food. As winter approaches, you start opening the door for them to come in. At first, the kitten gets scared and runs away. You start worrying about them but keep leaving the door open until one day the kitten comes in and the rest is history. Do we see the core values in this story?
It’s Never Too Late
Now you must be reevaluating every relationship you’ve been in and thinking “Do I even have a relationship with myself?” The answer is it is never too late to create a relationship with yourself or grow the one you already have (or leave a relationship that is not healthy or serving you). One of the main parts is self-love (which will be covered next week) and practicing the core values we previously discussed. Below is a list of things you can do to build a relationship within yourself (or even others).
- Create your own core values and don’t steer from them (unless you learn a new one you like).
- Sit with yourself, learn who you are when you’re not around someone else.
- When you are trying to solve something, ask yourself first. The answers are within you.
- Get to know yourself. What are your likes and dislikes at this point in your life and what makes you smile? What do you like doing for fun?
- Set your boundaries with yourself and others.
- Decrease the judgment you have towards yourself and others.
- Show compassion and gratitude towards yourself.