When the word relationship is used, people usually mean a romantic or sexual relationship that can be monogamous (between two people), polyamorous, casual, formal, or committed. But the term can also be applied to nonromantic relationships, such as friendships, family relations, and work partnerships. Historically, well-defined social norms separated the various types of relationships. This distinction is now less common.

Relationships have an enormous impact on our lives, both psychologically and physically. They can alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression and they help us manage stress. They can even add years to our lifespan. The important thing is to be aware of what a relationship really means and how to maintain healthy ones.

Strong relationships are characterized by natural reciprocity. The people in the relationship do things for one another without keeping score or feeling that they owe it to their partner. They support each other through good times and bad. They encourage those parts of the other person’s personality that may be hidden or in the background to come out more frequently.

They also know how to handle conflict in a healthy way and they understand that no disagreement is a personal attack. They know that the argument will eventually be over, and they can move forward together. The goal is to be able to talk about the issue calmly and with respect, no matter who is right or wrong. In the end, the relationship should be more important than who was right or wrong.

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