The relationships that we have with others are a large part of what makes up our social support network, which is critical for our mental and physical health. In fact, people who feel a strong sense of belonging to a supportive community tend to live longer and be more resilient to stress.
Relationships can be a positive part of our lives, but they can also be challenging. It’s important to understand how different kinds of relationships work, so that we can make the best choice about which ones are right for us.
There are many types of relationships, from casual acquaintances to intimate friendships. Some relationships are more stable and long-term, such as marriage. Marriage is a legal union between two people that provides specific rights and privileges. Civil unions are similar to marriage but do not provide the same benefits and protections.
In a good relationship, the opposite characteristics of each partner balance each other out and better the whole. For example, if one partner is very shy and quiet, the other might be more outgoing and adventurous. In this way, a loving partnership can be a healing and therapeutic experience. However, it’s important to be disciplined about not using a significant other as an emotional crutch. It’s easy to let our worst selves show when we’re close to someone, but that’s not healthy. It’s a good idea to be your most authentic self around the people you love the most and encourage those parts of their personality that may be hidden in the background to come out more often.