Relationships are associations or connections between people, whether they are intimate, platonic, positive or negative. Typically, when people talk about being in a relationship they are talking about a romantic and long-term commitment that involves both emotional and physical intimacy, and some level of ongoing support.
Healthy relationships are mutually satisfying and based on mutual respect, trust, honesty, and good communication. They allow each person to be themselves and to respect the boundaries of the other, and they are not afraid of respectful (and sometimes passionate) disagreements. Both people continue to see their friends and enjoy their own pursuits, and both are supportive of each other pursuing new activities or making new friends. They are also not afraid of resolving conflict without degradation, humiliation, or insisting on being right.
In addition to being a good stress-reliever, a loving partner can help you build self-esteem by recognizing your achievements and encouraging you to try new things. They can also be a good sounding board when you need someone to listen and offer constructive criticism. Finally, physical contact with a loved one—holding hands, hugs, and kisses—is important for brain health as it releases the bonding hormone oxytocin.
Relationships can be a huge part of your life, and they make up the social support network that is pivotal to both your physical and mental well-being. Studies show that those who feel a strong sense of belonging tend to be more resilient to stress and can live longer than those who are isolated.