Whether with a romantic partner or close friend, relationships require work. But it can be worth the effort. Beyond just making us feel happier, close, healthy relationships bring important benefits:
Practical help. At a basic level, it’s helpful to have people you can rely on to be there with an extra set of hands or some expertise. This is true whether you need someone to help you move a piece of furniture, fix a leaky faucet, or talk through retirement plans.
Social support. People are by nature social beings. So, whether we want to celebrate good news or pour out our distress, we feel supported when we believe someone is truly there to offer a listening ear or some sage advice. Also, having a social network, and especially a partner or inner circle of friends, can greatly increase our sense of well-being.
Feel valued. When you spend time with people who value you, it can help you to feel more positively about yourself.
Help becoming your ideal self. It can be affirming and energizing when your partner or best friend shows that they love you for who you are. When they see you as being like the person you want to be, that can help you to become more like that ideal self.
An opportunity to be caring. When you are in a close relationship, you naturally want the other person to feel good. Over time, you will find many opportunities to show caring by celebrating with them during the good times and helping to comfort them through difficulties. Giving in these ways is actually a gift to yourself because it can calm you and reduce your stress.
Be part of something bigger than yourself. People have always needed to live in communities for survival, so being part of a community is wired into us. When you meet this need – whether through an intimate relationship, a network of friends, or a more formalized group, you will feel a sense of well-being.
Reduced stress. The many benefits of relationships include that they reduce stress. This feels good by itself, but it also reduces your risk for health conditions.
Encourage healthy behaviors. Partners and close friends often encourage us to exercise, eat healthy, and follow up with medical problems. So, when we have that kind of support, we may be less prone to illness and recover better than those who are more isolated.
Longer life. Research has shown that people with strong social connections are much more likely to live longer than people who are loners. Holt-Lunstad, the lead author of one study, explained, “A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”
Fun and fulfillment. Having a close friend or partner to share the good times simply feels wonderful.
While it can be healthy to balance your social life with some alone time, remember these benefits of happy relationships if you ever get too comfortable hiding out from the world.