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Self-Help: How to create and maintain healthy relationships

They love me, they love me not. Relationships are something we're taught to crave from a young age. But, although childhood romances and friendships seemed simple and carefree, things can become much more complicated when you reach adulthood. Not to worry, here are some simple tips, to consider, to help you build healthy connections, by Rosa Fairfield.

Try not to use the word: toxic
Everyone seems to be throwing around: toxic person. It seems to have become a major part of pop culture. But, I think the main problem with it is: it's a word with such strong connotations that has a very wishy washy meaning. People are using it to describe anything from an abusive relationship, to their friend who can be negative sometimes.

Abuse is a very different thing. It describes a specific type of behaviour and is clearly wrong. But, any relationship can be unhealthy without being abusive. By using the word toxic, so many of us are sifting the blame onto the other person: they were a toxic person so I cut them out of my life. Whereas, unhealthy relationships are often a two way street where all parties act in ways they shouldn't. It's always good to acknowledge and reflect on both sides so we can build healthier relationships, in the future. We're all complex beings with a mix of strengths and faults.

Don't get carried away and rush things
Especially if you're new to relationships or if there's been a long break between your last one, it can be easy to lose your head. One minute you're just casually going on a first date with someone and the next minute they're basically your boyfriend (in your head, at least). This can create problems down the line because too much, too soon can cause the relationship to fizzle out. Pop, gone. It could also cause you to lose sight of: yourself, your own wants and even your feelings about the person you're with.

Let things progress naturally
Relationship that last are often the ones that just happen. Trying to spend time with someone shouldn't feel like hard work. If it does, it probably means that the other person isn't putting in the effort. The natural momentum comes from both sides genuinely wanting to be together and making that time to spend with each other.

Have a life outside of the relationship
At the start of the relationship, you might be so taken with your new partner that you forget: you actually have other people in your life, a job, a family etc. It's important that both you and your partner don't feel isolated in a relationship. People often talk about a partner isolating the person they're with but it can be just as easy to isolate yourself.

Don't constantly look for red flags in someone
Listen to your intuition, if you feel someone might be a danger to you or even if you just get the feeling that they aren't right, walk away. At the same time, don't fixate on it. If it's something you're really focused on, you might end up giving the wrong meaning to things. A person says something that doesn't add up once and you're convinced that you've proven they're a liar. In reality, it could be an unintentional mistake. Also, a person doesn't make a lot of facial expressions isn't always a sociopath that's let the mask slip. That person might be feeling depressed or there's any other reason. It's easy for things to spiral out of control.

People do change but it doesn't happen over night
If someone comes to you and tells you they've changed, don't just scoff and roll your eyes. People do change sometimes. It has to be their decision and they really have to want to change a certain behaviour. Don't expect that person to have done a 180 though, that problem won't be completely fixed, right away, because real change takes time and a lot of work. You may only see a small difference but that's probably something that's incredibly important for that person.

Balance the other person's needs and your own
It's the timeless saying of relationships need give and take. For it to be long-lasting you need to not be too selfish but not selfless either. It also can apply to meeting needs too. It's helpful to make sure you aren't pushing too many of your needs onto your partner. This can happen with basic nagging: stop leaving dirty laundry around. It's like Andy Warhol once said, interactions tend to be a conflict in needs. Neither party is exactly right, but to continue some sort of agreement has to be made.