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Find a friend

education Updated: Feb 04, 2010 13:27 IST
Jitendra Nagpal

Psychosocial research has, increasingly been pointing out that our close relationships, particularly with family and friends, are the foundation for our well- being. Positive relationships help us feel secure and ready to interact with the world. Negative relationships, perhaps a lack of close bonding, can make us insecure, vulnerable, and anxious.

Rapid changes in physical and cognitive development during adolescence are accompanied by major changes in people’s relationships with others – including family members and friends. Family relationships are often reorganised with the onset of puberty – the desire for increased autonomy, and increased emotional distance between teens and their parents. An adolescent’s attention often shifts to a more intense focus on social interactions and friendships expanding from same-sex friends to same sex-groups of friends to heterosexual groups of friends. It is to be noted that sexual maturity marks the need to redefine friendships again, to endorse an increased interest in opposite sex relationships.

The adolescent transition to male-female and intimate relationships is influenced by social and cultural factors and also expectations of caregivers. During adolescence, developmental tasks include struggles to gain control over sexual and aggressive urges, and discovering infinite potential in actual love relationships. One of the developmental tasks of adolescence is to achieve independence from one’s family as one emerges as an independent young adult.

During this period people begin to realise that their parents and others who wield authority do not know everything or have solutions to all types of struggles. It is common and normal for some teenagers to rebel against their parents. As adolescents become more independent and move away from their parents, they are more likely to turn to their peers for advice, more so for their relationships with the opposite sex.

They may idealise a boyfriend or a girlfriend as an attractive person with whom they can relate, and develop a close relationship with him or her. Of course, it is not always as simple as this.

In addition, many young people have difficulties communicating with their parents and do feel convinced that a boyfriend or a girlfriend will fill the void for them. Add to this the fact that teens are dealing with raging hormones, and the desire to be involved in a relationship becomes very strong.

Unfortunately, some teens focus so much on being in a relationship, that it becomes a “no matter what” situation. This can be problematic because in their desperation, they may choose a boyfriend or a girlfriend who could be totally unsuitable for them, or they may fail to take into account that being in a relationship involves hard work and some sacrifice.

It is said that love is simply the most creative use of our own energy, and there are many ways to channel that energy. Eating natural foods, doing aerobic exercises, spending time with nature, praying, meditating and – but most importantly – giving someone undivided attention when you relate to them are all effective ways of expressing love.

It should be a force that helps you improve your life, expand it and explore new dimensions, to inject fresh and dynamic vitality into it.

A healthy relationship is one in which two people encourage each other to reach their respective goals while sharing each other’s hopes and dreams. A relationship should be a source of inspiration and lifelong hope.

What’s the key to building healthy relationships?
Here are some tips:
To help make the task a little less daunting, and to increase the many rewards that are possible in such a marvellous and complex relationship, the people involved need to exercise patience and perseverance. Respect, sharing and trust characterise healthy relationships. Positivity is based on the belief that both partners are equal, that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared. Here are some key factors that determine a successful relationship:

Respect: Listen to one another, value each other’s opinions, and listen in a non-judgmental manner. Respect also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other’s emotions.

Trust and support: Support each other’s goals in life, and respect each other’s right to his/her own feelings, opinions, friends, activities and interests.

Honesty and accountability: Communicate openly and truthfully, admit your mistakes and accept responsibility for one’s negative behaviour.

Shared responsibility: Take decisions together, mutually agree on distribution of work, which is fair to both partners.

Non-threatening behaviors: Talk and act in a way that promote both partners’ feelings of safety in the relationship. Both should feel comfortable and safe in expressing him/herself and in engaging in fruitful activities, which can help their minds expand.

Above all, agreeing to disagree allows love to travel miles…

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at hthorizons@ hindustantimes.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’

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