What Are the Three Most Important Things in a Relationship?
There are two things all relationships have in common: ups and downs. While relationships have their seasons and are bound to have their rough patches, a strong foundation can help you weather the storm and continue to grow and strengthen your bond as time passes.
Fortunately, no one has to take on relationships alone. Establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship is hard, and a therapist can help you navigate difficult times and develop essential relational skills.
At Dana Group, we offer individual therapy and couples therapy. You can get support on your own or attend sessions and work through your relationship with your significant other. We have offices is Needham, Norwell, and Hanover, so you can schedule an appointment with one of our many mental health providers at a time and location that’s convenient for you.
As you evaluate the health of your relationship and consider opportunities to strengthen it, make sure you address the basics first. Here are the three key building blocks of a successful relationship.
You may think of the sexual aspect of relationship when you hear the word intimacy, but this relational building block covers so much more. More broadly, it can be thought of as closeness between people. A relationship with strong intimacy allows both partners to feel emotionally connected to one another, encourages trust and vulnerability, and nurtures a sense of acceptance or shared values.
While romantic relationships normally start out with high levels of affection and attraction, intimacy takes more time to develop. Few people feel comfortable exposing the innermost parts of themselves from the get-go, and how the other person responds to these displays of vulnerability can either build intimacy or extinguish it.
How Can You Grow Intimacy In a Relationship?
Creating a foundation of intimacy in your relationship takes work. Whether you’re new to a relationship or years in, there are a few ways you can build or restore intimacy.
- Spend quality time together: Make spending time together a priority -even amid busy work schedules and children. Engage in an activity you both enjoy, limit distractions, and take time to simply talk and enjoy one another.
- Follow through with your actions: Intimacy and trust are closely related, and both take time and work. Build trust by displaying your faithfulness, following through with what you say you’ll do, and being honest even when it’s hard.
- Practice being vulnerable with yourself: Being vulnerable with your partner starts with yourself. Allow yourself freedom to accept and love who you are, make your own choices despite pressure from others , try new things, and admit when you need help.
- Apologize first and show your appreciation: Saying you’re sorry takes courage, and it can be uncomfortable to admit you’re wrong or try to make up after an argument. And it takes intentionality to acknowledge the big and “small” things your partner does daily that you appreciate.
How Can Intimacy Affect Mental Health?
For someone living with a behavioral health concern, such as depression or anxiety, building intimacy may be more difficult to do but is crucial for developing a healthy relationship. Past experiences starting in childhood and trauma from previous relationships can make it a challenge to be vulnerable with others or develop trust.
Fear of intimacy and emotional vulnerability can lead to unhealthy codependency or, on the adverse side, self-sufficiency. Codependency is a deep emotional reliance on another person, which can lead to anxious behaviors, poor boundaries, low self-esteem, and withholding of emotion. On other hand, while a certain level of self-reliance is healthy, only relying on yourself and your abilities rather than being vulnerable and trusting of your partner can inhibit intimacy in the relationship.