Reach out to Us

Human beings have been social animals since time immemorial. The inter-dependence between humans can be seen in the context of inter-personal relationships. Such relationships have been developed and nurtured by humans over several centuries. Inter-personal relationship can be defined as the bond or association between two or more people. These relationships can be of different kinds—family relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, and acquaintanceships.

Human relationships have played a key role in all cultures and civilizations. The basic unit of society, the family, is also a network of relationships. All relationships that humans are born with or create during their lifetime determine the course of their life. The age-old adage “man is known by the company he keeps” also points to human relationships and the manner in which they impact our lives. Relationships are the most important aspect of our lives as they impact us in myriad ways and can make or break our lives. It is because of this that the concept of “relationship” has been at the centre of several academic debates as well as public discourse for many decades.

It is perhaps true that no human being can survive in isolation, without relationships, and yet relationships have been the most controversial aspect of human life. We humans have not been able to crack the “relationship code” as yet, and though we all desire to have meaningful relationships, we haven’t been able to decipher a solution which can significantly improve our ties with fellow humans. How can we sort out our differences, how can we reach the optimum level of happiness in our relationships, how can we learn from our relationships, how can we make the foundation of our relationships strong? Perhaps there are no simplistic answers to these questions, but there are a few things that we can keep in mind for making our relationships more meaningful, satisfying, and valuable.

1. The Pillar of Love:

love in healthy relationships

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free”.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

The basic foundation of any relationship is love. Again, there is no single and simplistic definition of love. It can at best be defined as an emotion or a feeling of deep affection. Lord Krishna spoke about the unwavering power of love in the Bhagavad Gita in which he stated that “The only way you can conquer me is through love, and there I am gladly conquered”.

The Buddhists believe that there are four different kinds of love. The first kind of love can be taken as the one that was identified by Lord Buddha as Metta or Maitri, which essentially means ‘loving benevolence’. This kind of love is a ‘giving love’ which seeks nothing in return, it is only meant to nourish the giver as well as the receiver. There is no reward and punishment in this form of love. However, this kind of love is not to be found in most human relationships, take for example, a couple. Most of the couples keep a score of what they have done for their better halves and what their better halves have or have not been able to do for them. This certainly has a component of give and take, and also a tendency to establish one-upmanship. Such a relationship is not based on love as love does not require any reward or repayment.

The third kind of love is Mudita, which simply means the ability to be delighted for others or the pleasure that comes from being happy for other’s well-being. This holds true for all relationships. If we actually love someone or value our relationships, we will definitely be happy for the success of those we hold dear. The fourth kind of love is Upeksha or equanimity which aims at freeing relationships from discrimination, prejudices, and boundaries.

The second kind of love is Karuna or compassion. Karuna is based on understanding and empathy. This kind of love is free of judgement, it is only based on developing a true understanding of the situation. Listening, empathizing, and supporting are a few important components of Karuna. An example of this can be the way in which we react to the suffering of our family or friends. In many cases, we cannot fix the problem or hand out a perfect solution, but we can sit with them, talk to them, try to understand their situation.

2. The Pillar of Truth:

truth in healthy relationships

All relationships must be based on truth. A relationship cannot be based on lies and deceit. Such a relationship will never be able to stand the test of time and is sure to crumble soon. It is good to be truthful in relationships, be it with your parents, partners or friends. A mature person will always try to understand the other person’s side of the story without judgement, and will try to find solutions, rather than pulling the person down. Therefore, it is good to speak the truth. If your truth is too much for others, then they are not your people. Being truthful also helps us to sieve through relationships not meant for us. Lying just for the sake of being more acceptable to people is extremely harmful, not only for the relationship but also for our own well-being. Lies are often accompanied by excuses and it is a vicious cycle from which one can never withdraw. Only immature, egoistic people shy away from their own truth and that of others. They blame others and become defensive because of their fragile egos. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re dealing with is mature or immature, speaking the truth and abstaining from lies is perhaps one of the best mantras for a healthy relationship.

3. The Pillar of Responsibility:

responsibility in healthy relationships themindline

Taking responsibility for our actions in the most appropriate ways is a guarantee for keeping our relationships on track. For example, if we have said harsh words to someone, it is good to admit our mistake and apologize. Young couples are prone to judging the actions of their partners and condemning the actions that do not match with their idea of perfection.In such cases, confrontation is inevitable. First, we need to do away with the idea of perfection.Second, we must try to assess the situation from the other person’s point of view rather than passing a judgement on their actions based on our point of view.

As we mature, we are supposed to take more responsibility for our actions. We are supposed to be less judgmental and create a space for dialogue instead of confrontation. Responding to a situation thoughtfully instead of reacting to it is the best way to avoid confrontation. If we have done something wrong, the only way to set it right is to engage in mindful self-reflection. Taking responsibility is not restricted to accepting one’s mistake, it also involves looking at the larger picture and rising above petty concerns.

4. The Pillar of Faith:

faith in healthy relationships themindline

“Honesty is the key to trust; trust is the door to healthy relationships”.

-J.R. Incer, Mastering Success: The Key to Self-Empowerment and Higher Consciousness

Healthy Relationships are based on the principles of faith and commitment. We enter into relationships with people we trust and we begin to have immense faith in them. Faith can move mountains but in case of betrayal, it can take years for a person to trust someone else. Faith once destroyed may take years to build. For example, in a romantic relationship, people tend to give their all, which means that people repose all their faith in one person, and if that person breaks their faith, it not only leads to a broken relationship but also a life-changing experience from which one takes a long time to recover. Therefore, faith is extremely important in fostering healthy relationships, and it must not be comprised with.

5. The Pillar of Self-Control:

self-control in healthy relationships themindline

How calm we are and how well we manage our thoughts can go a long way in determining our relationships, and so it is very important to become a master of your thoughts and emotions. Practicing self-control is essential for maintaining healthy relationships. Reacting to every feeling and emotion without control can make any situation confrontational. We might also end up hurting those we love. The best way to avoid such situations is to practice self-control. As humans, we might not be able to control our emotions in many situations, we might get angry and reactive at the drop of a hat. At first, controlling our thoughts may seem to be a humongous task, but adult human beings can definitely work towards it, and slowly and gradually we can become the masters of our thoughts and emotions. By controlling our emotions, we can successfully avoid many problems. Self-control helps in building trust among individuals. If one wants to make their relationships flourish, one must practice self-control.

6. The Pillar of Honour:

The idea of honour has been misunderstood to the extent that killing and genocide is associated with the word honour. However, the true meaning of honour is very different, it simply means to respect and hold something or someone in great esteem. Honour plays a vital role in relationships. We attract and maintain what we honour and we dispel what we dishonour. Likewise, we maintain the relationships we honour and want to keep.

In a relationship, it is also important to honour the commitment of the partner, for example, a spouse who does not honour the commitment of their partner will most certainly not respect their partner enough. This may lead to strains in their relationship. Honouring the word of our parents or friends is also critical for maintaining these healthy relationships. How much we value our relationships depends on how much we honour those we love.

7. The Pillar of Vision:

vision in relationships themindline

“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend”.

Albert Camus

Healthy relationships are impossible without a vision. In romantic relationships, when two people come together, they must have a shared vision. Even if their likes and dislikes are dissimilar, they must be able to have a common ground, a vision for the future, how they see themselves growing together in the next twenty-thirty-forty years. Remarkable things can be achieved if couples have a shared vision for the future. They can enrich each other’s lives in a way that is mutually beneficial. Having a shared vision also encourages mutual accountability.

In family relationships too, with our parents or siblings, we must have a vision—how we see ourselves as a family in the years to come, what do we want to achieve as a family, are we helping each other grow or are we limiting ourselves because of our short-sightedness? All healthy relationships must be based on a vision, the ultimate aim of which must be mutual gratification.