In Practice

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10 Ways Relationships Help Individuals Grow

Is your relationship helping you grow as a person?

In happy relationships, people typically have a sense that they're growing as a person due to being in the relationship. Here are 10 ways your relationship might be helping you flourish.

In Love by Josefina Herrera.

1. Your partner sees you more positively than you see yourself.

Over time, you incorporate these more positive perceptions into your self view. You get an expanded sense of your positive attributes or talents.

For example, your partner thinks you're smarter or nicer than you believe you are, and eventually you come to believe they're right. This leads to you behaving more confidently, which in turn has rewards for you.

Or, you've always been insecure about your big bum and covered it with loose clothing, but your partner helps you realize that even though it's big, it's very attractive.

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2. Your partner introduces you to things you like. You get new opportunities for pleasure experiences and an expanded sense of self.

For example, your partner enjoys bicycle camping. You never would have tried this if it wasn't for your partner's influence.

Or, you never would have considered watching Battlestar Galactica but your partner loves it, so you try watching it. You realize you like genre TV that previously you wouldn't have considered, and this opens up new pleasure experiences and an expanded sense of self.

3. Your partner's good habits rub off on you. Health, finance, lifestyle, or psychological habits.

For example, health-related habits. Anything from flossing to jogging to taking medication appropriately when you have pain rather than just putting up with it.

Or, finance-related habits like your partner has a retirement savings plan so you get one. Or, lifestyle habits, like taking weekends off. Or psychological habits, like not personalizing things that may not be personal.

4. Your partner encourages you to be yourself.

For example, you love singing. You sing all the time at home and your partner encourages you to sing in a concert.

Or, you're a very fun person. You love to joke. Your partner also loves to joke, or just likes your joking and sense of fun and supports you expressing this positive aspect of yourself.

5. Your relationship provides practical support that allows you to pursue your personal goals.

For example, you can start a business because you can rely on your partner's income while you're getting your business going. 

6. Your relationship provides emotional support that helps you persist with hard things.

For example, while you're at graduate school, looking for a job, or starting a business. On days when you're feeling disappointed or demoralized, you can come home to a hug.

7. Your relationship helps you learn to trust that another person will be dependable and emotionally available to you.

For example, you start out being very worried your partner is going to abandon you, but over time you realize this doesn't happen.

8. You relationship helps you learn to trust that you're an emotionally dependable person.

You might doubt your own capacity to be a reliable support to another person, but over time you realize you're emotionally dependable. You grow because you learn you have the capacity to emotionally support your partner.

9. Your relationship helps you with self acceptance.

You learn to take emotional risks with your partner. You tell them about things you're anxious or ashamed about. They still love you and this helps with self acceptance. For people who worry that they're unlovable, a good relationship can prove this wrong.

10. Your partner doesn't tolerate your negative patterns and so you change in positive ways.

For example, your partner doesn't tolerate you being excessively dramatic. You learn there is no benefit to this. You stop for the sake of the relationship but it also helps you.   

Or, your partner doesn't tolerate racist or homophobic statements. They call you on these things and you change for the better.

Self-Reflection

If you enjoy self-reflection, try writing an example from your own relationship that fits into each of the above ten categories.

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Photo: 

In Love by Josefina Herrera. License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stylishjo/170739189/

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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