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Build positive relationships that bring you joy

Positive relationships are important to being able to live life the way we want. They bring us joy, love, connection, empowerment, support and freedom.

How do you nurture your most important relationships? Do you have:

  • A significant other?

  • Children?

  • Another family member or friend who means a lot to you?

Take a moment now to reflect on a particularly important person – what was the last thing you did to help bring them joy?

I have wonderful relationships with my husband and son and amongst my other relationships, I have some very close friendships.

What made this possible?

There are three key factors that have made this possible:

  • I am the real me

  • I accept that some relationships have to end

  • I cherish and nurture my positive relationships

My husband and I were sharing some of the things we love about each other earlier in the week and one of the things he said about me is that I’m a genuinely lovely person. I was delighted that the person I’m closest to, who knows me better than anyone else and who has spent almost every day of the last 10 years with me still sees me as a genuinely lovely person.

Before I go on, I’m going to rewind…

I have been in relationships that didn’t last. I don’t regret any of them, because they all brought me to where I am now – including because of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way and because those relationships ending made it possible for new and better relationships to be made.

What have I learnt?

The short answer is ‘a lot!’. What I would say have been some key lessons that stand out to me from over the years are:

  • Friends matter. However much you enjoy being with the person you’ve met, who may (or may not) be ‘the one’, remember to keep your friendships going. I have been in a position where I went from going out every week and having fun with a friend to not going out with friends at all. That wasn’t great for various reasons, including the fewer friendships you maintain, the more reliant you are on your romantic relationship. In reality, we need different relationships in our life to meet different needs. While you’re in some sort of honeymoon period, that might feel fine, but in the longer term it can become quite lonely and isolating. By the time I met Rich, I knew I wanted someone who had their own friends who they would spend some time with and who would be happy for me to have time to do what I wanted.

  • Clearing up misinterpretations matters (to me). I once dated someone who I noticed each time I saw him would misinterpret something I’d said and for some reason, I didn’t correct him. I don’t think it was important at the time, but I knew when I met Rich that I wanted him to fully understand me, so any time it seemed he was misinterpreting something, I’d clarify. I wanted him to really get to know me and not make assumptions.

  • When it didn’t feel right, it wasn’t right. There are times when I dated people and they were nice and I was being open minded, so I’d agree to another date and possibly another, only to find the feeling I had at the start could have been trusted – we weren’t right for each other.

  • We can have the loving, fulfilling relationships we hope for. I didn’t grow up surrounded by people in loving marriages, so to me, it was just something I knew from books, films and my imagination. It was something I always hoped for and wanted, but wasn’t ever convinced I could have. Until I finally realised that I’d rather be single than settle…then all of a sudden, Richard appeared! This applies to other relationships too. I have some friends who I’m really close to and love them dearly. I don’t see them very often (apart from one lovely friend who now lives closer to me), but when we are together, it’s like we’ve never been apart. I’m there for them anytime and I know they feel the same about me.

  • Being our real selves brings joy. Although being who I really am means I’m not going to please everyone or make everyone want to be in my life, but it does attract more of the type of people I want in my life. Being me also pleased the one person who matters most and him being his real self made him stand out to me too. We’re not cool (and we know that – do people even use the word cool anymore? Perhaps a point in case?!) and we’re not that funny, but we see and appreciate the adventure and comic in each other and both think the other is amazing for many reasons.

Lessons I learnt that were specific to being single or dating included:

  • Make sure someone knows who you’re with and where you’re going – safety is important;