Relationships

Establishing a Healthy Relationship Using Positive Psychology

happy couple in a positive healthy relationship
a couple in a happy, healthy relationship

What is a Relationship?

A relationship is the state of being connected to another person, place, or thing. There are relationships amongst almost everything in our environment. The relationship between the sun and the moon. The relationship between the food we digest and our cholesterol levels. The relationship between the United States of America and Syria. 

And then there are the relationships between people. The relationship between a mother and daughter, father and son, brother and sister, schoolmates, co-workers, the list goes on and on. However, a relationship between partners involved in a committed and romantic relationship is one that can impact many aspects of a person’s life; including daily routines, mood, social life, and where we live. It is for these reasons that it is important to establish and maintain a healthy and positive relationship with our partners.  

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates

Healthy Relationships vs. Unhealthy Relationships

There are some key components to a healthy relationship that help to build and sustain a positive lasting relationship. These elements must be shared and established in a mutual setting in which both partners are willing to contribute positive aspects to the relationship. Some of these key elements include, but are not limited to:

  • Open and honest communication
  • Support, physical and emotional
  • Unconditional love
  • Trust and honesty
  • Interest, or at least a willingness to show interest, in one another’s joys and hobbies
  • Understanding
  • Non-judgmental towards one another
  • Lack of jealousy
  • Independence within the relationship

In contrast there are some red flag elements that work to establish unhealthy and negative partnerships. There are many reasons and environments that may warrant an unhealthy relationship. However, unhealthy relationships are generally the product of one or both partners disagreeing on their desires and needs from the relationship. When these aspects of two people do not align, relationships will not last. Amongst the differences, negative and unhealthy habits may arise which ultimately impact the partnership. Some of the elements that define an unhealthy and negative relationship include, but are not limited to:

  • Cheating
  • Lying
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse, name calling
  • Mental abuse
  • Avoiding your partner
  • Lack of communication
  • Wanting too much space and independence from your partner
  • Wanting to spend too much time together creating a dependency
  • Manipulation
  • Constant arguing
  • Controlling behavior 

What is Relationship Positive Psychology?

Obviously, we all want and strive to have healthy, balanced, and positive relationships. And although some relationships may come more naturally than others, they all require hard work. One successful way that partners can work towards building a healthy and lasting bond is through positive psychology. So what is positive psychology all about?

Positive psychology within a relationship is “the scientific study of what makes individuals and communities thrive”, according to Suzie Pawelski and James Pawelski who are the joint authors of “Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts”. They state that there are four necessary habits required to build and maintain a strong and balanced relationships. 

  1. Promoting a healthy, non-obsessive, passion
  2. Cultivating and prioritizing positive emotions
  3. Taking time to mindfully savor experiences together
  4. Seeking out strengths in one another
A couple looking happy and supported

Why is Relationship Positive Psychology Important?

Positive psychology is essentially using positive ways within a relationship to find and maintain a happy balance that promotes support and lasting love. It is important to utilize this method of upholding a relationship for the sake of everybody involved. Of course, the physical and mental health of the individual partners in the relationship is critically affected. In addition, anyone else who may be directly affected by the relationship, such as children of the couple, could suffer the consequences of an unhealthy bond. 

If children are exposed to unhealthy relationships it could impact their future relationships. Children need good sound examples of relationships in order to have the tools to build healthy habits and positive relationships down the road.

The Risks of Not Practicing Positive Psychology

If positive psychology is not utilized in developing and maintaining healthy relationships, both the relationship and the individuals can suffer. Either during or after a break-up, people can endure feelings and emotions that may ultimately impact other aspects of their life, including their future. Some of the issues individuals may find themselves dealing with might include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Insecurities
  • Commitment issues
  • Trust issues
  • Communication issues
  • Not ever wanting to be in a relationship again
  • Picky about future partners to the point of avoidance

The Benefits of Practicing Positive Psychology

Clearly, the use of positive psychology is important to the health of a relationship. However, there are more benefits to applying positive psychology to your relationship.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Confidence about the relationship
  • Self confidence of the individuals involved in the partnership
  • Freedom within the relationship
  • Positively affects other aspects in life:
    • Other friendships
    • Productivity in the workplace
    • Focus
  • Desire to maintain healthy lifestyle
    • Exercise
    • Healthy eating
    • Meditation
A couple having fun using positive psychology

The How To…

Due to the endless benefits of using positive psychology to help create a lasting relationship, it is important to understand how to get started. Try out some of these ways to start incorporating positive psychology into your personal relationship…as a reminder these must be understood and shared ideals amongst both partners in order for this to be a successful tool.

  1. Make a goal to support one another, not to complete one another
  2. Strive to create an understood passion together, not one that is obsessive, overbearing, or overwhelming
  3. Work on turning negative emotions into positive emotions
  4. Do things together that bring both of you joy and happiness
  5. Acknowledge your strengths and use them
  6. Acknowledge your partner’s strengths
  7. Show your appreciation for one another
  8. Spend quality time together in a positive way
  9. In general, focus on the positive 

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