Relationships are an intrinsic part of our daily lives and contribute to our overall quality of life. Whether the relationship involves romantic partners, children, friends, or coworkers – we want the best for all of them. Defining what “the best” is for each relationship can get tricky, particularly because most of us don’t know how to nurture our relationships while setting and maintaining boundaries.
People are different. Life constantly changes. At any given point, individuals are going through a period of personal growth, turmoil, or self-discovery.
Our relationships need to roll with these changes–good or bad. We can’t expect someone to remain the same person as when the relationship started.
As we navigate the dynamic changes in a relationship, we also need to be aware of our personal boundaries.
After all, some people give too much to a relationship. When it’s not reciprocated, it causes distress, resentment, and animosity.
Nurturing relationships while maintaining personal boundaries creates a bond of mutual respect and admiration.
How Do You Nurture a Relationship?
Tips & Examples
Here are some ways to be more nurturing in a relationship with a partner, family member, child, coworker, or friend. Try these tips and notice how it positively impacts your bonds.
Set Aside Time to Nourish Relationships
Cultivating positive relationships takes time–especially if a relationship went through a difficult period.
Schedule daily or weekly blocks of time where you can be fully present in the relationship you want to nurture. Eliminate distractions as much as possible–how often do we see a couple going out to eat and both are staring at their phones?
Quality time spent talking, enjoying leisurely activities, or working together on a service project strengthens the bond and makes us more attentive to what makes the relationship work.
Don’t be afraid to let the other person know you also want to spend time on your own hobbies, pursuits, or personal development. It’s a great way to set boundaries–after all, you also need to “do you”.
It will make for some great conversations next time you get together.
Address the Current Problem, Don’t Attack the Person
When frustrated in a relationship, it’s easy to get angry.
They are always late…They’re so inconsiderate.
Sure, if you expect someone to be in a certain place at a specific time and they’re always late, it can be frustrating. But is it a reason to lash out?
Actually, it’s more productive to understand the problem, learn why it’s an issue, and work towards solving the problem together.
In the example of being chronically late, what causes this issue? Does the individual have a job where emergency situations pop up? Do they have issues with time management or transportation? Or are they someone that simply lives in their own ‘time zone?”
Setting boundaries requires you to communicate clear expectations. When both partners understand the problem and expectations, they share a common goal of solving the problem.
Next time that individual is late, don’t get angry or passive aggressive. Clearly state what you feel without making it a personal attack.
I waited 20 minutes for you. I feel like you don’t value my time. I understand sometimes you get busy with work. If you are running late, can you call or text me?
And don’t be afraid to set expectations regarding the problem…
I enjoy our time together, but next time I wait 15 minutes for you to call or show up, I will find something else to do.
This shows you want to work towards nurturing the relationship while being mindful of your personal boundaries.
Pause Reactions Until You See the Whole Picture
Do your judgements or biases often lead to jumping to conclusions?
For example, if your coworker doesn’t respond to an email you think is important, do you feel like it is a personal attack or an attempt to undermine you?
Nurturing relationships require understanding and staying open-minded.
Instead of jumping to false conclusions, transform judemements into open communication.
Maybe that individual just got a huge project dropped into her lap. She only has time to check her emails at certain times.
Instead of feeling threatened or hurt, reach out to your coworker.
Once you hear the whole story, you may see your knee-jerk reaction is more of an internal issue than something the other person did.
Show Gratitude and Appreciation…Often
One of the best ways to nurture a relationship is noticing the good in the other person. It doesn’t have to be perfection. It doesn’t even need to be something you think is important.
Just noticing and acknowledging a positive quality or behavior will go a long way in being more nurturing.
For example, you have a friend that is fascinated with fashion. Conversely, you love wearing comfortable clothes everyday.
If you meet your friend and she has an outfit she clearly chose for the occasion–even if it is something you would never wear–compliment her.
Be grateful for every aspect of the relationship–even the things you can’t completely understand. It shows you value the other person’s differences and unique qualities.
Own Your Mistakes Then Talk About Them
Make mistakes? We all do.
Don’t cover them up, blame circumstances, or deny them. OWN THEM!
Nobody is perfect. We all have weak moments. Sometimes our thoughts and emotions get the best of us. Or we simply make the wrong decision.
It’s a part of life…learning…evolving.
When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to admit it. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s actually showing you are open-minded and courageous enough to understand you didn’t make the best choice for a given situation.
Talk to your partner about the mistake. Work together to see how it can be avoided in the future.
And then move on.
Compassion & Forgiveness
Speaking of mistakes…
When someone else makes one, remember–just like you–they aren’t perfect.
Forgive them. Don’t keep nagging about past mistakes.
Forgiveness is powerful. You are releasing the thoughts and emotions associated with feeling like you were wronged. You let go.
You’re reestablishing your boundaries by no longer letting something someone else did invade your headspace.
It’s not always easy to forgive. Once you take that important step, you’ll find it’s incredibly liberating–for yourself and your relationship.
Reboot Relationship Patterns
It’s no secret: we are creatures of habit. We lock into our comfort zones and keep doing the things we’re used to.
But, think about this: How did it feel the last time you visited a new destination with a partner? Exciting, invigorating…maybe even a little uncomfortable?
Different experiences change perspectives. It helps relationships evolve.
Believing relationships will be the same thing day after day is not only unrealistic, it’s suffocating the bond.
Seek out new opportunities and experiences. Say, “Yes!” instead of shooting down an idea.
As long as the new experience aligns with your values and is not invading your personal boundaries, go for it!
Want to Learn More About Setting Boundaries While Nurturing Relationships?
The Shape Your Foundation workshop is an excellent opportunity for creating the emotional and mental space to make conscious choices regarding family, work, and personal relationship dynamics.
Learn more about the Shaping Freedom™ concepts that will build a stronger foundation for your relationship with self and others.
Get access to a supportive community, open discussion, and practical teachings focused on self-healing and igniting inner love, clarity, and enthusiasm for life that comes with finally living your purpose.
Learn more about the program and register here.