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4 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships Today

Two friends dance to music.


As human beings, we are social creatures. It’s no surprise that our happiness and well-being are deeply connected to the quality of our relationships. Now, research proves it.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest-running study on happiness and well-being. Since the 1930s, researchers have tracked the lives of 724 men over a span of 75 years, with the goal of understanding what factors contribute to a fulfilling life.

The study revealed many keys to living a happy life, but none proved as crucial as having close, enduring, positive relationships. 

So, what can we do now to build healthy relationships and enjoy a lifetime of happiness? While each relationship has unique needs to thrive, there are a few relationship habits that can help us build, nurture, and preserve any relationship.

4 Habits that Strengthen Relationships and Boost Your Happiness & Health

It may seem obvious that having good relationships makes life more joyful. But what about your health and well-being? Science confirms that having a strong social network can help reduce stress, boost the immune system, and promote longevity.

Use these practical tips to cultivate meaningful connections with the loved ones in your life—and even make lasting new friendships along the way. 

1. Learn a friend’s love language. 

The concept of love languages, popularized by Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, suggests that we all have different ways of expressing and receiving love. The most common “languages” are acts of service, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts.

Getting to know your friends’ and loved ones’ love languages can help you understand what types of communication make them feel most seen and appreciated. You can then tailor your actions to strengthen each relationship. For example, let’s say you discover that your spouse highly values quality time. Rather than always telling them you care, plan regular outings or dates, or make your downtime at home extra special. 

Understanding any differences between your love and gratitude styles also helps you avoid the miscommunications or feelings of disconnect which erode our relationship bonds.

2. Highlight the strengths of others. 

While not everyone loves to be showered in compliments, we all want to spend time with people who make us feel seen and appreciated. Show your loved ones you not only care about them, but you see the world as a better place because they exist. In essence, be a highlighter—identify the things that make someone uniquely wonderful, and celebrate with them.

By the way, these strengths don’t have to be grandiose. In fact, sometimes being acknowledged for the little things that we think no one notices is even more rewarding. For instance, you might tell a friend that they are a great critical thinker. You explain that they can always deduce the best answer at game night trivia, but that their sharp thinking also makes them your go-to confidante when you need some sound advice. 

3. Be present together.

In a world filled with distractions, it’s easy to let your eyes and ears wander when you’re with a loved one. Unfortunately, these distractions chip away at relationships, leaving the other person feeling rejected, unimportant, or disrespected. Being fully present shows that you value their time and company. Make a personal rule to put away your phone and be attentive when you’re together and you’ll always be considered the friend who cares.

4. Practice self-care. 

Self-care isn’t just about caring for yourself. It’s also about giving your family and friends the best version of yourself—the version that is well-rested, patient, kind, positive, and healthy. By practicing self-care, you also set a healthy example for your loved ones to follow suit. When we take time to care for ourselves, we are better equipped to care for others. 

Building stronger relationships is one of the most fulfilling ways to create a happier life. Even better—by working on your relationships, you not only improve your health and happiness, but you’ll also boost the well-being of your loved ones.

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