Relationships happen every time we interact with people and so they impact almost all parts of our lives. We are in relationships with romantic partners, but we also have relationships with friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances.
Time and effort spent improving one’s important relationships is a great investment. Many philosophers, writers, and academics have written about human relationships as the primary source of meaning in life. Caring relationships with friends, family or a significant other, offer closeness, warmth, and love. Such relationships are capable of improving our lives, enhancing our awareness (of ourselves and others) and creating new or deeper understandings of each other and the world.
Therapy can be a useful tool for understanding past relationships and identifying harmful relationship patterns, as well as learning about how one’s history can impact present life. Many people come to therapy because of current or ongoing relationship issues in their family, work, social, or intimate lives. Therapy can enhance an already strong relationship and provide additional tools, or be used to address difficulties. Some people seek counselling because of a sense of loneliness or dissatisfaction with their relationship(s), while others have specific concerns such as communication, parenting, substance use, infidelity, or sexuality.
Establishing a lasting sense of closeness with another person – beyond surface or superficial levels – requires safety and trust. To develop meaningful relationships involves dedicating time, energy, and resources. People are complex, with many layers of experiences and personality, and to express one’s deepest feelings to another person is to make oneself vulnerable to that person. Many people have been hurt by those closest to them and have learned to protect themselves from this sense of vulnerability by guarding their true selves. But protecting ourselves can also contribute to loneliness. In general, therapy can enhance insight and relationship skills, deepening one’s ability to create lasting, meaningful relationships.