Mental Health and Relationships

Relationships are a big part of human life, and they play an important role in your mental health. Having positive relationships can boost your confidence and self-esteem. They also can provide a safety net, helping you to take greater risks and chase after your dreams. Relationships are not easy, but they can be extremely rewarding.

Everyone has a picture in their mind of how a relationship should work. Two people finely balance their responsibilities with each other, spend plenty of quality time together and manage to find some time to themselves. They share engaging and invigorating interests, and help each other do the same. They genuinely listen to each other, they laugh and they cry, and most importantly, they respect each other’s boundaries.

While the need for human connection appears to be innate, our ability to form healthy relationships is learned and often starts in early childhood. Early experiences with caregivers who consistently meet an infant’s basic needs (food, care, warmth, protection, stimulation) set deeply ingrained patterns of relating to each other that may last a lifetime.

The word “relationship” is thrown around so much these days, it’s no wonder that many people don’t have a clear understanding of what it means. Some use the term to mean a romantic connection with someone else in which both individuals agree to be monogamous and exclusive of other partners in a sexual and emotional sense. Others define a relationship as more casual, and can involve dating or regular activities without any formal commitment to each other. The most serious form of a relationship is marriage, which is a socially and legally binding agreement between two people that joins their lives and grants them specific rights and privileges.