6 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationships in 2023
Relationships are an essential part of a healthy and fulfilling life, but they can take a lot of work. As 2022 draws to a close, Well looks back at some of the relationship building strategies we’ve covered over the past year to help you deepen your friendships or romantic partnerships in the future.
1. Suppose people like you.
Making friends as an adult takes initiative, and putting yourself forward can be intimidating. Remember that the people you meet are more likely to like you than you think, said Marisa Franco, a psychologist who studies friendship and wrote the 2022 book Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make-and Keep-Friends”. ”
“It’s based on research on the ‘appreciation gap,'” Dr. Franco explained, or the idea that we tend to underestimate how much we are appreciated. There is also a separate but related theory known as “acceptance prophecy”, which says that when people assume others like them, they tend to be friendlier and more open. If you’re looking to make friends, your mindset really matters, Dr. Franco said.
2. Don’t underestimate small acts of kindness.
A study that asked participants to do kind things for others found that participants underestimated how much those gestures were appreciated. This was true whether they did something for someone they knew (like baking cookies for a friend or driving home a classmate) or for a stranger (like buying someone a mug hot chocolate on a freezing day).
“People tend to think what they’re giving away is a little small, maybe it’s relatively inconsequential,” said Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. , and author of the study, published in August. . “But recipients are less likely to think that way. They consider the gesture to be much more meaningful because they also think about the fact that someone did something nice for them.
If you’re not one to cook or just can’t see yourself buying hot drinks for strangers, don’t force it. Instead, consider your skills and talents and ask yourself: How can I turn them into offerings for others?
3. Enjoy the power of casual recording.
According to a 2022 study that included 13 small experiments, calling, texting or emailing a friend just to say “hello” tends to mean more than we realize. In some cases, participants contacted someone they considered a friend; in others, they came into contact with someone they were friends with but considered a weak link. Overall, those who reached out underestimated how much it meant to the person receiving.
To demonstrate how little it takes to lift someone’s spirits, the researchers intentionally kept the bar low for what constituted “getting in touch.” “The simple act of sending a quick message to get in touch with someone — just to say ‘Hi’, that you’re thinking of them, and to ask how they’re doing — can be appreciated more than people realize,” said Peggy Liu, Ben L. Fryrear Chair in Marketing, associate professor of business administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and author of this study.
4. “Turn to” your partner throughout the day.
John and Julie Gottman, who are married psychologists, have spent decades studying what makes marriage work, and in their 2022 book, “The Love Prescription: 7 Days to More Intimacy, Connection and Joy,” they argue that Much of it comes down to “turning to” your spouse.
As the Gottmans, who co-founded the Gottman Institute, point out, the partners make repeated offers to get each other’s attention throughout the day. In response, the other partner may react in several different ways: ignore the approach (turn away); respond negatively (turn against); or acknowledge the offer positively with something as simple as a nod or a touch (turn to).
“Let’s say I say to John, ‘Wow, look at that beautiful bird out the window!’ “explained Julie. “John can totally ignore me. He can say, ‘Do you want to stop trying to interrupt me? I read.’ Or he may say, ‘Wow, yeah!’ In one of the Gottmans’ best-known experiments, they observed couples over the course of a day and found that those who had been married for years “turned” on each other over 80 year. percent of the time. Those who divorced did so only about 30% of the time.
5. Recognize “normal marital hatred” too.
Terrence Real, family therapist and author of the 2022 book “Us: Overcoming You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship,” believes that in most partnerships there are three phases of love: harmony, disharmony and repair. Yet our culture doesn’t equip people to talk about – or deal with – this expected second stage of discord or disillusionment. Simply acknowledging it to yourself and your partner can help.
“I’ve traveled the country for 20 years, talking about what I call ‘normal marital hatred,’ and no one has ever come backstage to ask what I meant by that,” Mr. Real.
6. Cultivate ‘freudenfreude.’
Unlike schadenfreude, when we take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, “freudenfreude” describes the happiness we feel when someone else succeeds – even if it doesn’t involve us. There are benefits to sharing someone else’s joy. It can promote resilience and improve life satisfaction.
A simple way to experience more freudenfreude is to ask friends and loved ones about their small victories or the positives of their day. It makes you a “joy viewer” and gives you the opportunity to see the people around you at their best.