A deep, loving relationship once was thought to be a dream. However, I assure you that we now have enough information about love to help any couple create a positive and love-filled relationship that has both of you feeling special and important.
Understanding what it takes to establish a loving relationship with your partner can make you feel stronger individually. You will have a relationship that will have others envious of your strong bond. This knowledge can be applied to any relationship in need of a stronger, deeper connection.
Close, Loving Relationships — Why Do We Need Them?
Despite what fairy tales taught us when we were children, what the media continues to show us about love and what ideals we've created as we've grown up, no relationship is perfect.
Every couple, no matter how long they have been together, experiences difficult times. It's just in our nature: as humans, we can't always see eye-to-eye. We can't always remember the joy a specific person can bring to our lives. The so-called honeymoon phase has that name for a reason.
We've all watched pairs of people fall out of deep love but still stay together. They don't seem to be excited about each other, but..... isn't this just normal? Isn't this what most of us must settle for eventually? We hear others tell us, and more sadly we tell ourselves in long term relationships, we must settle for mediocrity.
And yet, we all know couples who just seem to have everything figured out. They continue to radiate love for each other, no matter what they go through. Were they just lucky? Did the stars align for them? Was it some sort of natural event? Or is that kind of love a skill — something we can actually learn?
Relationships with other people are what makes so many of our lives worth living. They help us feel more successful. They improve our mental health. They make us feel better physically. We need love and support from others in order to be the best we can be. We are social beings — there is no denying that relationships are vital.
The Benefits of Being in a Loving Relationship: Mike and Joanne
When I think of how important loving relationships are to our lives, one couple I know always comes to mind: Mike and Joanne.
Mike was in his early thirties and worked in sales. He was a good guy. He was a little shy, not the best public speaker and not the most outgoing. But, he met his quotas and liked his job well enough, though he wasn't quite the go-getter he once thought he'd be.
He wasn't unhappy, but he never seemed too excited about life, either. Sometimes it seemed like he was just along for the ride, never taking a lot of risks or really putting himself out there........until he met Joanne.
They had been introduced by some friends, and Mike was head-over-heels for her pretty quickly. Any guy would have been — Joanne was beautiful and intelligent. She had one of those laughs that excited a whole room. In Mike's eyes, she was pretty perfect.
As the two of them began to see more of each other, Mike had a big realization: Joanne was a reason for Mike to really take hold of his life. He wanted to be someone she could be proud of, someone she could show off and someone she could brag about to her girlfriends.
It wasn't that Mike was uninterested in improving his life for himself. It's just easier to be content when you're on your own. You don't have anyone you really have to impress. You don't have a ton of motivation to really push yourself when you only have to worry about you. This is normal. This is okay. But it can feel pretty amazing when you do find someone else who motivates you to become the best you can be.
Eventually, Mike started joining clubs to practice his public speaking skills. He began individual counseling to find a better connection with himself. He signed up for management classes. He pushed hard at his self-improvement and eventually became the manager of the sales department.
I believe if Mike had not met Joanne, he might never have been motivated to really take charge of his career. Without her support, he might not have ever become the successful person he is.
Mike and Joanne ended up getting married. Their bond was one of the most positive forces in Mike's life. It helped him reach his full potential both professionally and personally. More importantly, Mike became so proud of himself and the changes he made.
That's what a loving bond can do for you. It can give you a reason to really find and become your best self. When you feel loved and supported, you can better believe in yourself. When you feel confident and happy with who you are, you can better share that positive outlook with the rest of the world.
There is no shame in looking to love for motivation. Loving bonds are a driving force from the very beginning of our lives. Didn't we want to have our parents proud of us? It's not that different. It's ok to want our partners to be proud of us and to make changes because of that.
Attachment Theory: How Do We Connect to Others?
Indeed, Joanne and Mike's story is not the only example of the importance of connection. Numerous studies have shown that the need for close bonds is present from the time we are infants.
John Bowlby, a British psychologist working throughout the 20th century, pioneered research on attachment theories. These help us understand how and why children might become connected (or not) to their primary caregiver. These attachment styles were also applicable to interactions between adults. He explained these styles of attachment in three categories:
1. Secure Attachment
2. Avoidant Attachment
3. Ambivalent Attachment
Each form of attachment is characterized by certain behaviors.
• Are able to be away from their parents
• Look to their parents for comfort when frightened
• Are pleased when their parents return after separation
• Prefer their parents to strangers