Meaningful Relationships

We all know that happy people also have meaningful relationships. These relationships can be romantic, between family members, between friends or neighbours, or even between professionals. Happiness is also linked to the number of your daily social interactions, even if most of those interactions are superficial. People who interact with many neighbours, co-workers, retail clerks, or even passers-by on a daily basis are definitely healthier and happier than people who are socially shy and isolated. Close relationships also affect physical health. People who have multiple close relationships live longer and remain healthier and happier than people who have fewer close relationships.

Meaningful relationships also tend to share particular characteristics. These characteristics can be used to identify meaningful relationships or to increase meaning in a relationship. Being mindful of these characteristics of meaningful relationships can also help you maintain a meaningful connection with a given person over time. An important prerequisite for meaningful relationships is time. Relationships become more meaningful when people spend time together in a harmonious manner.

Another important building block of meaningful relationships is emotional self-disclosure. Emotional self-disclosure is sharing balanced personal information about your feelings, perceptions, and memories with another person. Emotional self-disclosure is a powerful way to increase intimacy in a satisfactory relationship.

Two other important characteristics of meaningful relationships are propinquity and similarity. Propinquity refers to being physically close to another person. People who live or work physically close to each other are more often than not likely to develop meaningful relationships than those who do not. This is probably because physical closeness creates many more opportunities for people to interact with each other.

People are also more likely to develop meaningful relationships with people who share their attitudes, interests, and values. Similarity fosters relationships in at least three ways. First, you are more likely to spend time with someone who enjoys the same activities. Second, conversations with someone who share same beliefs and values are more likely to result in moments of agreements. Thirdly, similarity and propinquity work together. People who share attitudes, interests, and values are more likely to be in the same close physical space than those who do not.

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