10 Habits of Great Relationships

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Practical Psychology

A “relationship” is defined as any bond between two people. You have relationships with your family members, friends, significant other, co-workers, and your neighbors. Not all relationships look and function the same. How do you maintain successful relationships? You learn the habits of people in successful relationships. Check out the following habits and use them as you build bonds with your partner, your family, and everyone you meet. 

Ten Habits for Great Relationships

  • Communication
  • Forgiveness
  • Understanding
  • Understanding The Five Love Languages
  • Respect 
  • Appreciating each other 
  • Focusing on the actual problem, not the conflict 
  • Knowing honesty comes first
  • Making time for each other 
  • Laughing a lot

1) Communication


Good communication is key to avoiding and solving problems in your relationships. Being able to tell another person how you feel and how you think will help both of you to quickly solve problems whenever they come up in your relationship together.  Efficient communication is, hands-down, the best foundation for a great relationship.

People express and understand their thoughts according to their own life experience, which varies from person to person. Talking openly and explaining to another person what you personally took from a given conversation can often lead to a response like “Oh, but that’s not what I meant. Here’s what I was really trying to say...”.

We often get hooked by certain words or phrases and take them out of context, then get upset because that makes us twist the whole meaning of what the other person wanted to say. Talking openly about these things will help you to see where another person is coming from, as well as give you a chance to explain your own perspective before things get out of control. Open communication waters down and even erases many conflicts that might have otherwise appeared in your relationship.

2. Forgiveness


Forgiveness is something that everyone can find in their lives, although many people struggle with it. However hard it may be, forgiveness is an important way to strengthen your bond with another person and lift weights off of your shoulders. If you are a forgiving person, you will be seen as a great friend and ally, and others will be more likely to treat you as you’ve treated them.

If you’re ever in a situation where you’ve made the mistake and you’d like to ask another person for forgiveness, only do so once you really feel it in your heart that you’re not going to make the same mistake again. Asking for forgiveness is not just some obligation… in a healthy relationship, asking for forgiveness is an authentic and genuine promise to another person, and giving that forgiveness is a statement of a rebuilt and strengthened level of trust.

3. Understanding


When you understand another person: how they think, how they feel, and why they act the way that they do… it becomes a lot easier to forgive them and communicate with them. In order to really understand someone, you need to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. You need to be empathetic, which means that you feel the feeling of others.

Most conflicts appear when people just can’t understand another point of view. When people debate, they are often both correct on some level, but their inability to see things from another perspective makes them think that they are entirely correct and the other person is entirely wrong. It takes a big heart and a lot of openness to want to understand someone else, their situation, and how they feel.

The best way to understand someone is to listen to them. And by listening, I don’t mean listening to a few sentences here and there so you can conjure up a counter-argument to what they just said. That works in political debates, but it’s not productive to a relationship between two people. Instead, you should sit down, listen, and assume that their point of view is just as valid, or even more valid, than yours. This will help you to bond with and understand the other person. In time, understanding another person will also make them more likely to be open to understanding you.

4. Understand the five love languages

the 5 love languages

If you've ever read the book “The 5 Love Languages”, you know that loving someone isn't something you can do passively. A relationship has to be fed constantly; you always have to keep working on improving your relationship all the time. You cannot become passive and think that things progress forward as they did early on in your relationship. You can make passive income to your bank account without ever having to think about it, but relationships don’t work that way.

With any relationship, you need to make sure the other person feels loved by you. To do this, you need to understand what it is that makes them feel loved in general. The 5 languages of love are a good starting point for this. The 5 love languages are affirmations (praise), services, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. You might enjoy a mix of those, or just one of them is super important to you. Everyone’s different.

We usually tend to show our love and appreciation toward another person in the way that we would like to be treated; this can be good, but it’s important to look at what the other person in your relationship responds best to. For example, if I feel loved when I receive money or gifts, I’ll be more likely to give those kinds of gifts to my family and friends - because that’s my own language of love.  But some of my family and friends might really value quality time, so if I’m always busy working (to make money in order to give them gifts), they will start to feel rejected and ignored.

Knowing the 5 languages of love can help you bond with others and make sure that both you and your loved ones feel cherished and appreciated. You just have to make sure that you understand where everyone’s priorities are when it comes to the 5 languages of love. If you’d like to learn more about this, I recommend checking out “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman.

5. Respect


Respect is very important for any kind of relationship. Even if you think someone is “below you” in some way - for example, if they have an inferior job - that doesn’t mean they deserve less respect than you do. Respect is the foundation of harmony in relationships. You may not always appreciate everything that someone does; you may despise some of the mistakes a person has made, but that never means that you’re entitled to go out and curse at them or try to make them feel worthless. In these situations, you should always give your feedback in a calm and respectful way, and always intend to look for solutions or, if it’s possible, simply end the relationship.

In the end, respect can be summed up with the golden rule: treat others the way you’d like to be treated. If you or another person cannot follow that golden rule with each other, the relationship is not meant to be.

6. Appreciate each other

appreciate each other

Appreciation goes hand-in-hand with the five love languages. Showing appreciation is essential for relationships because it’s important to make sure your loved ones feel valued and enjoyed. You can show people your appreciation for them every day with small things, such as buying them a coffee or a bag of candy out of the blue, helping them with a chore, or even just stopping every now and then to say, “I really appreciate having you in my life.” Appreciating the other people in your life will make them happier and will strengthen your bonds and relationships.

7. Focus on the actual problem, not at the conflict

focus on the problem

A relationship is a partnership between two people. You are both always on the same side. When an issue appears, people sometimes tend to start blaming and arguing with each other instead of actually solving the problem. Whenever a challenge appears or a mistake has occurred, you and the people in your life should be focused on working together to solve the problem.

Every time you argue about a problem and try to choose someone to place blame onto for it puts a new burden on the relationship. A better way to protect and strengthen your relationships is to tackle problems as the team that you are, no matter whose fault it is.

Attacking each other and hurting each other with mean words will only damage both of you. Worse yet, when you’ve become hurt and damaged, you can’t think properly and your motivation to actually solve the problem drops significantly. This means that fighting actually brings you further away from solving the problem and moving on from it.

All you need to do is to think of every problem as “us versus the problem” instead of “me versus you”. Looking at problems and solving them as a team will not only solve the problem but will also strengthen your relationships in the long run!

8. Honesty comes first

honest comes first

Relationships are built on respect and trust. Both of these things are hard to earn back if you destroy them, and lies are the easiest and quickest way to do just that.

Lies can be a cheap solution to a short-term conflict, but they come with a long-term loss of respect and trust, and relationships are a long-term thing. The more honest you are with the people around you, the more they will trust and admire you. This will make them more willing to understand you and communicate with you, which will further strengthen your relationships. Honesty is the best policy.

Being known and revered as an honest person will also greatly improve your life. When everyone around you trusts you, you gain access to many positive things, such as more privileges. For example, when your significant other trusts you, they will allow you to go out with friends and do things late at night, so long as you remain trustworthy. This gives you a lot of freedom to do things that would make your partner worried and suspicious if you didn’t have such a good track record. If you’re in school, teachers remember and share with each other which students are considered “trouble makers” and which ones are considered “good students”. If you are seen as a good student, you will find that you have new privileges, such as not being stopped in the hallway to check for your hall pass and gaining access to use expensive equipment for projects that other students are not trusted with.

When you are known for your honesty, people will also be more likely to share their secrets and struggles with you, which will further increase your ability to understand and communicate with them!

9. Make time for each other

make time for each other

When people don’t make time for each other, they damage their relationship together. One example of this is spending too much time with your work. Many entrepreneurs struggle with making time for their relationships because they love their work. But being a workaholic is not always good for the other areas of your life.

If you’re out with your spouse or your friends and you find yourself thinking things like, "I could be making $5,000 or $10,000 more dollars a month if I spent this time on the business”, you’re missing out on an important point. You need to try to instead think, "you know, this relationship is a great thing in my life. If I didn't have it, I might not even want to work as hard."

Work and relationships are things that you need to balance carefully. Become self-aware of what percent of your life you want to work and what percent of your life you want to actually live your life. Humans are social creatures. Even the introverts among us. If you spend your life building up a bank account with a billion dollars, but you ignore and destroy your relationships in the progress, you will find yourself to be all alone. Nobody wants that.

This is especially true of long-distance couples who may not be able to see each other physically for months on end. Making time for each other through Zoom or FaceTime is crucial to building a bond.

10. Laugh a lot

laugh a lot

Laughing a lot comes with a ton of psychological benefits. When you spend time with other people, you feel more charismatic. Spending time with people that make you feel like it's okay to laugh and to be yourself is very important. Surrounding yourself with people like that is crucial for forming great relationships.

What Habits Ruin Relationships? 

As important as habit creation is, habit destruction may also be the key to securing and building a successful relationship. This Reddit post contains a list of "bad habits" that may hurt, rather than help, a relationship. Think about how you can replace these bad habits with the good ones that I just listed!

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2019, March). 10 Habits of Great Relationships. Retrieved from https://practicalpie.com/10-habits-of-great-relationships/.

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