2020 was an isolating year for many of us. The COVID-19 pandemic brings enforced periods of social isolation and social distancing. Saving lives, of course, is incredibly important. But many of us found that our personal relationships suffered as a result. While the virus is still spreading in the new year and we need to remain cautious, it’s also a good time to strengthen your relationships.
It’s not surprising that many of us are looking for a fresh start and want to improve our relationships with others. It’s a thoughtful and special new year’s resolution!
Now, the pandemic hasn’t passed and we will still inevitably face obstacles when it comes to socializing. But, as we’re growing used to living in this new way, many of us are beginning not only to manage but thrive.
Here are a few suggestions on how to strengthen your relationships this year!
Keep In Touch
The first thing you really need to focus on to strengthen relationships is to keep in touch with others.
Now, every relationship is different. Some of us have friends who we talk to throughout the day, every day. Some of us have other friends who we chat with once a year. Whatever dynamic works for your relationship is great. There is no right or wrong! What’s really important is that you make an effort to stay connected.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is difficult right now. We can’t catch up over a coffee in a local shop. Nor can we go out to the movies, enjoy a shopping spree at the mall, or visit museums. It’s especially tough for long-distance relationships, as we definitely can’t travel as we have in the past.
Luckily, we live in the age of technology and there are countless ways to reach out to people without having to see one another in person! You can text, make a phone call, or have a video call. You can even hold group video calls to get multiple people together at once.
When we think of love languages, we tend to think of romantic relationships. But we communicate in our love languages with anyone who’s close to us, including family and friends. Understanding love languages will inevitably strengthen your relationships and ensure appreciate others in a way that makes them feel loved.
Here is a quick introduction to the five different love languages.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are encouraging words that show you care. A few examples include:
Telling someone you’re proud of their achievement
Letting someone know what a good friend they are
Telling someone how lucky you feel to have them in your life
Acts of Service
Acts of service are things that you do for someone that you know they will appreciate. This could include:
Making them a hot drink or picking them up a coffee
Replacing the oil in their car
Cooking a meal for them
Thoughtful gifts can truly brighten someone’s day. Gifts, of course, don’t have to be large, extravagant, or expensive. Some ideas of simple, yet thoughtful gifts, include:
Someone whose top love language is quality time values doing activities and hanging out with their loved ones. While we can’t necessarily spend time together face to face basis during the pandemic, there are other things you can do. These include:
Masked, socially distanced outdoor picnic
Hiking or walking through the park
Unfortunately, physical touch is the only love language that can’t be reciprocated in a safe way during the pandemic. People with this at the top of their list appreciate hugs, pats on the shoulder, holding hands, and other forms of physical connection. If your friend has physical touch as their top love language, ask them how you can supplement or substitute in a way that is meaningful to them.
Be Honest and Open
If any of your relationships feel strained, reflect on why. You may find that you have simply outgrown the relationship, or that it wasn’t ever actually that good in the first place. If the relationship revolves around arguing, disagreements, and similar issues, it’s time to reconsider if it’s best for you.
The pandemic has highlighted relationships that largely revolved around having someone to do things with, as opposed to having a genuine connection with that person. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad friend, just perhaps not a lifelong one. It might mean having an open and honest conversation is in order to consider if it’s time to close the door on your relationship.
On the positive side, openness and honesty are key to a strong relationship. Sharing your goals, joys, fears, and feelings is an important component of any friendship.
Learning how to strengthen relationships is an important aspect of personal growth. Hopefully, some of this advice will work in your favor and help you show your loved ones how much you care for them. They’re bound to reciprocate!