How to Build Positive, Healthy Relationships: 6 Helpful Tips

Sitting in my car crying, feeling somewhat hopeless, a thought hit me. I did not have positive, healthy relationships in my life.

My relationships were shallow and a little self-serving.

Realizing you need more positive relationships is hard to accept, but at 22 with the excitement of life in front of me, it was an epiphany and a reality check.

Despite having a good job, a car, a nice apartment, friends, and a boyfriend, I was lonely.

In my zest to surround myself with friends, I did not focus on how to build positive, healthy relationships.

Taylor Swift sings in her song “22”, “we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”

I don’t think feelings of confusion and loneliness end on your 23rd birthday. If you don’t learn how to build healthy relationships, they may never develop and you will feel ‘confused and lonely’ regardless of your age.

Positive relationships don’t suddenly appear and thrive. Positive relationships take a lot of work.

At that stage of my young life, I had not planted deep seeds in others’ lives and didn’t have many people investing in my life either.

On that sad day, I started the slow process of redirecting my life and relationships.

I became aware of needed personal changes and decided to find people who wanted to join me in my quest to learn how to build positive, healthy relationships.

friends on bikes-how to build healthy relationships

Jesus Built Positive, Healthy Relationships

Studying the life of Jesus helps you understand the importance of positive relationships.

The son of God born sinless and without fault sought out and embraced many different relationships in His life.

When Jesus began His ministry one of His important assignments was to find and call disciples to join Him.

Jesus built positive relationships to have others beside Him to fulfill His great call.

“He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve and designated them, apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word”

Mark 3:16-19 MSG

How exciting it must have been to be selected by Jesus and have the opportunity to walk beside Him and be part of His tribe for three years!

Although we were not part of that long-ago mission, Jesus showed us the importance of positive relationships.

We can be excited about the tribe we are assigned to. We can also be assured that Jesus calls us to our mission and walks beside us. We just need to find our people.

A study on the benefits of relationships by Northwestern Medicine summarizes why building positive relationships is important:

“As humans, the relationships we form with other people are vital to our mental and emotional wellbeing, and really, our survival. Humans have an inherent desire to be close to other people.

To connect and build relationships. While a man stranded on an island, talking to a volleyball (you remember the movie!) isn’t necessarily “healthy,” his compulsion for company is.

That’s because the fact of the matter is, healthy relationships (romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships — they all count!) can help make for a healthier overall life.

But what exactly does a healthy relationship look like? A positive relationship can be shared between any two people who love, support, encourage, and help each other practically as well as emotionally.”

There are as many types of relationships as there are people; simple, complex, temporary, long-lasting, hard, and easy.

However, like our own lives, relationships are a journey and are either growing and healthy, sick and in need of care, or dying and needing to be removed.

Positive relationships rooted in and supported by personal growth through Jesus are stronger and can endure more heartache and struggle.

scripture with flowers-how to build healthy relationships

Why Positive Relationships Are Important

I discovered when I was 22, that not all relationships are created equal.

Whether you are pursuing a friendship, romance, or with family there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Building positive relationships begins with two people who are pursuing and nurturing personal growth.

Healthy does not mean perfect. It just means the relationships where you spend most of your time offer mutual value are authentic and operate from a place of love and respect.

Why is building positive, healthy relationships important? Because people are either adding and multiplying or subtracting and dividing from your life. It is best to spend as much time and resources on those people who add and multiply.

Positive relationships help you grow and contribute happiness and contentment to your life. They make life better.

Unfortunately, unhealthy relationships exist and cannot be eliminated.

But you can learn to identify the importance of building positive relationships, place boundaries around negative relationships, and grow through relationship failures, struggles and discouragement.

When you invest time with healthy, positive people, you have more support and emotional margin to manage the people that subtract from your life,

“By yourself, you’re unprotected. With a friend, you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 MSG

How to Build Healthy Relationships

Learning how to build healthy relationships takes time.

I am an extrovert and enjoy meeting new people and building relationships. They just weren’t all healthy or positive. Quantity does not lead to quality.

Introverts need healthy relationships too. Regardless of our personality, we crave deep, meaningful positive relationships.

We initially learn to build relationships with our parents and siblings. We then move to build relationships with friends, romantic interests, and our children.

Making relationships whole and positive is where the work comes in. You have to decide to invest in your people and learn how to build healthy relationships with your family and others.

We learn how to build healthy relationships through our faith, studying the Bible and other resources.

The most important factor in our ability to have healthy relationships is our relationship with Christ. Our faith gives us a new identity and new desire to be more like Jesus which impacts how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. Jesus helps us grow emotionally and spiritually.

Positive relationships are important but don’t develop using a certain formula.

Building healthy relationships takes flexibility, learning about others, giving people room to grow, personal growth, understanding the type of relationship we are in, and trust that God is weaving through each relationship.

If we take another look at Jesus’ relationship with his disciples, we learn how to build healthy relationships.

Jesus spent time with His disciples. He used opportunities to talk to them, mentor them, and listen to them. He loved them unconditionally and included them in His journey. He helped His disciples feel what we all seek…to belong, be relevant, beloved, and be valued.

The hardest part of building positive relationships is being intentional with your time instead of just letting people occupy space. Once we find our people, we need to invest in them.

Life is better when you work together building positive relationships with the people you love.

people jumping-how to build healthy relationships

6 Tips for Positive, Healthy Relationships

Through the test of time and the highs and lows of relationships, I’ve learned tips for building positive relationships.

Since that pivotal moment when I took relationship inventory, these are my thoughts on the 6 most important things in positive relationships.

1. Choose Relationships Wisely

Building positive relationships starts with who you choose to let into your life. We don’t get to choose certain relationships such as neighbors, coworkers, and family.

But you do get to choose the relationships to which you devote most of your time and energy (excluding your children, they are completely yours, at least until they become adults!)

Once you embark on a new friendship or romantic interest, you can learn to choose relationships wisely and pull back if they become unhealthy or toxic.

Building positive relationships is difficult if both people are not healthy individually. When you are spiritually and emotionally whole, you choose better.

If you are at the starting line of a new relationship and red flags are flying, you can take a step back, pray, and find clarity on whether to proceed. You can stop and ask yourself if you are encouraged and challenged to grow through this relationship or just drained.

If you are already in a relationship that is unhealthy, you can start working to make it healthier with the aspects you can control. Learning how to build positive relationships never stops!

2. The Importance of Communication in Positive Relationships

Honest, encouraging communication is vital when learning how to build healthy relationships.

Communication in positive relationships is a complex issue that is beyond two people talking. It involves tone, timing, and knowing when you talk too much or too little.

The importance of communication in a positive relationship is crucial. Positive communication is the foundation for how two people connect.

Body language and your ability to listen are two important parts of communication in any relationship.

When you say the right thing but your expression or posture disagrees, it is negative communication. The key to communication in a relationship starts with the condition of your heart.

When you see others through the eyes of Christ and are secure in His acceptance and love, you become a better listener and communicator.

3. The Importance of Forgiveness in Healthy Relationships

Forgiveness is a choice. Building positive relationships requires us to understand the benefits of forgiveness.

At 22, I would have argued this point, but now embrace the importance of forgiveness in healthy relationships.

Understanding the benefits of forgiveness makes practicing forgiving a bit easier.

When building positive relationships, you will have many opportunities to practice forgiveness despite how much you love the person.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus responded to Peter’s question, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

To forgive ‘seventy times seven’ sounds like an exaggeration, but being a good forgiver brings freedom and is a cornerstone to building positive relationships.

The more you forgive, the better you get at forgiveness. The better you get at forgiveness the more you avoid bitterness and resentment taking residence in your heart and soul so that you love freely in your relationships.

friends-healthy relationships

4. Healthy Relationship Boundaries

To build healthy relationships, you need healthy boundaries. When you have healthy relationship boundaries, they are the backbone of truly enjoying other people.

Without boundaries, there is frustration with others and you can also lose yourself.

Having healthy relationship boundaries helps you understand what you need to protect and function freely with others.

Boundaries are not restrictions but quite the opposite; a clear line is drawn between what is yours and what is not.

It is impossible to build positive relationships without healthy boundaries.

5. Keep Expectations in Check 

Building positive relationships requires that you keep expectations in check. Your expectations are a strong belief that something will happen how you envision it.

When we don’t keep expectations in check they tend to take over our emotions and deposit resentment and disappointment.

This was a problem for me that I didn’t realize until I began building positive relationships.

My biggest expectations were a result of my lack of spiritual identity and my search to feel wholly known and loved.

Because I was not whole and complete in Christ, I struggled to keep expectations in check. I expected others to fill my empty spots or complete me.

No one but Jesus can complete us, so the unrealistic expectation to be completed by anyone leads to disappointment.

There are many types of expectations. Some expectations are healthy, but unrealistic expectations destroy healthy relationships and leave you feeling empty.

6. Practice How to Love Unconditionally

In healthy relationships, you practice how to love unconditionally often. Practicing how to love unconditionally is a lifelong process and is only possible through the lens of Jesus.

It is easy to love some people unconditionally but some relationships are hard. When building positive relationships you get a lot of practice in loving unconditionally!

Your relationship with Christ is how you transform your thoughts and spirit and become more like Him. He is the greatest model for true, pure everlasting love.

Loving unconditionally helps you live in and model healthy relationships.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

I am honored and humbled to enjoy more healthy, positive relationships than I did as a young adult. Understanding and learning the important things in a relationship has not been easy. There has been pain, discomfort, mistakes, and loss, but relationships are worth it.

Building positive relationships is ongoing and an important part of a thriving life.

Although I wish it were possible to tell my 22-year-old self it would be ok, the struggles I have experienced have helped me grow closer to God.

The journey has taught me how to build healthy relationships and fully enjoy the people I am fortunate to be connected with and call friends.

Before you go…What have you learned about how to build healthy relationships? How have you invested in building positive relationships in your life?

Author

Mary Rooney Armand

Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing is featured on multiple websites. She is the author of “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I Am in Christ”  and “Life Changing Stories“—a collaboration with 34 authors available on Amazon.

quote-healthy relationships

 

Mary Rooney Armand

Mary Rooney Armand is an Author, Speaker, and Creator of the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. She helps others grow in their intimacy with Christ and thrive in their relationships. Her work is featured on multiple websites including Woman of Noble Character, Pray with Confidence, and The Brave Women Series. Mary is the author of, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I Am in Christ” and, “Life Changing Stories” a collaboration with 34 authors sharing stories of God’s faithfulness. Besides writing, Mary leads small groups and speaks at retreats. She directed Kids Hope USA, a mentoring program for children, worked in marketing and sales, and has led mission trips to Honduras. Mary is a life coach with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and an MBA. She and her wonderful husband Cory live in New Orleans and are the parents of four children, a new daughter-in-law, and two dogs! Connect with Mary on Instagram or Facebook.

50 Comments

  1. […] for decades and perhaps a lifetime; especially in terms of how it shapes a child’s worldview, relationships, eventual parenthood, and […]

  2. Lisa Blair on January 22, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    You have some great insights, Mary. These are gems, “It is hard to build a healthy relationship if both people are not healthy individually. No one but Jesus can complete us. There are many types of expectations and some expectation is healthy, but unrealistic expectations of others destroy healthy relationships and leave us feeling empty. Practice how to love unconditionally.”

    • Mary Rooney Armand on January 22, 2021 at 7:25 pm

      Lisa, thanks for reading and so glad you found a gem…great honor as a writer!

  3. […] define the line where my business ends and someone else’s starts, and are instrumental to healthy growth in relationships. The expression, “mind your own business” could be changed to ‘mind your own boundaries’ […]

  4. Amber on February 5, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I really appreciated the six tips you share, all of these are so important in any relationship!

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 5, 2021 at 5:18 pm

      Amber, thanks so much for reading!

  5. Samantha on February 5, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Avoiding bitterness is definitely important! This year (well, during the pandemic) I’ve found bitterness in myself and haven’t liked it. I think if you’re truly forgiving people, you don’t have room for bitterness, and unfortunately, that wasn’t me. I’m working on this. Thank you for your insight!

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 6, 2021 at 6:11 pm

      Samantha, thanks for reading and adding some insight! I know with God’s help you will be able to work out the bitterness. Blessings!

  6. Karen OReilly on February 6, 2021 at 5:08 am

    Wow what a valuable resource on healthy relationships! I need more meaningful ones that are Christ centered. God has been teaching me how I need to love more with intention. Just what I need right now??

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 6, 2021 at 6:12 pm

      Karen, thanks for reading! I pray my words provide a little help as you move to be more intentional.

  7. Meghan Villatoro on February 6, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Great tips! Healthy relationships are so important. I have some special Christian friends whose friendships and relationships mean so much to me!

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 6, 2021 at 6:12 pm

      Meghan, thanks for reading and I am so happy you have some good friendships!

  8. Christiana on February 6, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for pointing us to the life of Jesus to learn about relationships. such great lessons. God bless

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 6, 2021 at 6:13 pm

      Christiana, thanks so much for reading! Blessings!

  9. Chavon Barry on February 6, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    “I expected others to fill my empty spots or complete me.”

    I had no idea I was doing this in my friendships and in my marriage until I paused and took a second look too. And now I am so thankful for the healthy relationships I’ve invested in and for the ways I’ve changed my expectations. In so doing, I start to see the unique gifts of those in my life and I am okay if they don’t fit with my empty spots.

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 7, 2021 at 6:43 pm

      Chacon, beautiful testimony! Thanks for reading!

  10. Sheena Radam on February 7, 2021 at 2:51 am

    I always love your content! When it comes to building relationships, I would often remember this word from the Bible, that we shoud live at peace with everyone. Though it isn’t easy we do need God’s help with this, most especially His grace.

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 7, 2021 at 6:42 pm

      Sheena, thank you! And yes, great wisdom to live in peace!

  11. Kari Minter on February 7, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Okay, so I wish I could sit across from you with a cup of coffee and get your wisdom in person! Your posts are always full of some graceful truth and helpful lessons. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and post!

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 7, 2021 at 6:41 pm

      Kari, I would love that too! Thanks for reading and your kind words of encouragement!

  12. Donna Miller on February 7, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Beautiful post Mary. I, too, am honored to have healthy life giving relationships at this point in life. ?

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 9, 2021 at 7:03 pm

      Donna, thank you for reading and it is wonderful that you are surrounded by healthy people!

  13. Mariah on February 7, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    • Mary Rooney Armand on February 9, 2021 at 7:03 pm

      Mariah, thanks for reading!

  14. […] Mistakes in relationships are especially hard because someone can get hurt. If we focus on how to learn from our mistakes in relationships, we will have success maintaining healthy relationships. […]

  15. […] happiness tend to have what we like to call the Right Outlook. They are engulfed in activities and communities that allow them to immerse themselves in a rewarding and gratifying […]

  16. […] lived his life with an insatiable desire to grow closer to God and share that love with others. He experienced contentment in God and did not seek or receive […]

  17. […] Had I been less enamored by his looks, I think I would have seen this sooner, but I was young and didn’t know what was important in relationships. […]

  18. […] in a relationship, it hurts the most and lingers the longest. But if we want to experience healthy relationships we must grieve and move on from the […]

  19. […] group has helped me learn how to increase social connections. It has provided a channel to build relationships with others, to encourage others, and of course to be […]

  20. […] in a relationship with God and loving others out of the abundance of love we have received from […]

  21. […] and don’t commit to walking through the loss. This affects our ability to build and maintain healthy relationships. Our healing, after losing a friend, starts with […]

  22. […] I learned what are the 3 types of friendship, it helped me navigate relationships. My understanding of each type of friendship has expanded over time and through real-life […]

  23. […] Fear of missing out means we feel there may be something better we will miss if we are involved in our current pursuit. This fear sounds frivolous to some, but “FOMO” or fear of missing out can be a real hindrance to experiencing God’s best in the here and now. It can also limit our ability to find Godly contentment and impact our relationships. […]

  24. […] Relationships are life-giving and nourish our souls. They can also cause pain and conflict. But knowing our identity in Christ brings new tools to live peacefully with others and enjoy the benefits of living in healthy relationships. […]

  25. […] fatigue and try to manage and eliminate them as much as possible. It requires us to examine our relationships, habits, and spiritual […]

  26. […] schedules.  And, despite our vast experience, we are still learning to navigate the emotions and relationships that our separate lives bring with them and the elements of a successful […]

  27. […] we found Dave Ramsey’s books, my husband and I learned to better communicate, creating mutual goals for our family, and designing a financial plan to reach those […]

  28. […] moving by realizing you don’t have to completely release neighbors or memories, you can just add more relationships at your new […]

  29. […] moving by realizing you don’t have to completely release neighbors or memories, you can just add more relationships at your new […]

  30. […] of us probably think of faithfulness as it relates to marriage and other relationships. A good relationship requires faithfulness. Our friends, family, children, and spouse teach us the importance of […]

  31. […] No relationship grows if you only repeat the same conversation from the last time and the time before that. […]

  32. […] No relationship grows if you only repeat the same conversation from the last time and the time before that. […]

  33. […] No relationship grows if you only repeat the same conversation from the last time and the time before that. […]

  34. […] The main reason gossip is bad is it is a negative distraction that prevents us from persevering in our Godly purpose and thriving in our relationships. […]

  35. […] An identity rooted in Christ quenches our deepest craving for connection primarily through our relationship with Jesus. We are then able to function healthily in other relationships. […]

  36. […] Fear doesn’t always plague us as dramatically as scuba diving affected me, but it is an unwanted nemesis that alters your thoughts, behavior, and relationships. […]

  37. 3 Easy Steps to Living with No Regrets on August 2, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    […] Harsh words sting our souls causing fractures in our relationships. […]

  38. […] humble heart is quite simply a heart that seeks to follow God’s commands first and put others before ourselves. It’s the opposite of […]

  39. […] Being whole helps you resist the urge to keep going back so you can move on and enjoy healthy relationships. […]

Leave a Comment





Welcome!

Lady smiling-Mary Rooney Armand

Hello, my name is Mary and I am grateful you stopped by. If you would like to join our community, sign up below to receive the latest blog posts & encouragement!

Butterfly

Join us to live better altogether!

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Butterfly

Categories

Butterfly

Recent Posts

Butterfly
Butterfly

Archives

 

Butterfly

Search