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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Reaffirming Friendships and Meaningful Relationships

As everyone knows, interpersonal relationships are important factors in our lives, for mental, spiritual and physical health. The quality of them can affect the overall quality of our lives. Psychologists, doctors and spiritual practitioners, have all agreed that meaningful relationships are closely correlated with our overall health. It’s kind of like a domino affect, because those relationships can affect how we view and experience relationships with all of the other people in our lives.

The patterns of most of our relationships and their meanings will most likely change over the course of our life. When we are young, relationships with cohorts, tend to be the most significant, while other more “serious” relationships with colleagues and family, will most likely feature more prominently later on, especially as sources of emotional and practical support.


Throughout our lifetime, the individuals we develop relationships with can have an immensely impactful, if not profound, effect on our character and well being. The elements of positive relationships usually seem to be that they are based on trust and our own determination – as opposed to an obligation – and are ultimately supportive, understanding, consistent, reciprocal and mutually beneficial. In contrast, negatively perceived relationships seem to have characteristics of less than adequate communication, criticism or emotional detachment.

As we develop intimate involvements, outside of our family and social circle, it is quite possible, that some of those relationships will not meld well with everyone that exists within our social circle. Sometimes it is due to personality clashes, while other times, certain people, on either side, may have an agenda or security issue within themselves, that sees other close friendships, as a threat. Again, this is usually due to that particular person’s own self-esteem issues, which show up, often through neurotic attempts at controlling, by demonstrating unwarranted behavior towards people who simply have done nothing wrong.

If you find that someone close to you is preoccupied with either judging someone within your circle’s behavior, or seeks to undermine your friendships and other associations, it may be a good idea to take a good look at where that motivation is coming from. But to try to “please everyone,” as it were, by making excuses for people’s behavior, or allowing an unhealthy situation where someone is targeting someone for no apparent reason, is futile. It is far more constructive, to instead, confront what you feel the issue truly is, and handle it in a more logical fashion. If you find that this is not possible, then it really is time to re-evaluate the situation – keeping true to your gut feelings and instincts. Dealing with the facts is far more beneficial, than with rumors or ideas that people manufacture on their own.

Much has been written in therapy-based literature, about the importance of developing positive relationships, particularly with clients, as to therapeutic development. It is, therefore, even more important that relationships of mutual support be maintained, for personal empowerment in general.

The importance of close confiding relationships as a protective factor, both for good mental and spiritual health, as well as for those at risk, have been demonstrated as early as in childhood, when young infants and children often develop strong attachment relationships.

In addition, there is no denying the importance of these relationships in times of ill health. Isolation has almost never served to foster healing in those cases.

Relationships for an individual’s recovery can include a very diverse range of social contacts over the course of a lifetime. Relationships, friendships and social networks, have always had a great impact on life in general, as well as the recovery process. As a result, many factors can positively or negatively influence an individual’s recovery.

There are many types of connectedness in life, from mental, emotional, to social, that serve to emphasize the desire of humanity, to establish and maintain connectedness throughout life.

Many individuals have described the role that friends, families, partners, peers, the community, religious communities and work colleagues have on their lives as to the general quality of it, and also in the recovery process.

The ways that people can choose to stay connected to the important individuals in their lives, are many, from staying in general contact, to maintaining a small, inner circle of friends that may be looked upon to express themselves with, to talk with regularly, freely, intimately and emotionally. Often identified as the types of friends who would regularly sense when behavior had changed due to an illness or some other life situation, these friends are usually people who can serve to reassure them and assist in handling problems before they get out of proportion.

Recognized as people who do not judge them, and who believe in them, these are the types of friendships that are often based on long-term relationships, common histories, and similar value systems. The maintenance of these relationships usually proves invaluable to people over the course of their lives.

There are many ways to stay connected to the important people in our lives. Traditional ways, through regular phone calls, visits, outings and correspondence – can all have the same types of effect.

Just as personal relationships and social networks can be important sources of positive support, some people also recognize that they can also have a negative impact, particularly when connected to bad habits or exploitation. In contrast to the desire to maintain and nurture old relationships, some people realize that it is equally important to ferret out those relationships that are not positive, and develop the strength to walk away from those relationships. Knowing just when to disengage with negative relationships and social networks, is every bit as important as knowing which ones to maintain.

Friends and family who are consistent and constant, who are not judgmental, are accepting, embracing, and actively try to be inclusive, while allowing for an exchange to take place, in terms of reciprocity, also do not underestimate the capacity to give (as well as take). Those who do not expect conformity or participate, but still included them, usually prove to be even more valuable as to sense of self-worth and identity. In addition, these relationships can prove to be mutually beneficial in that regard.

However, while the role of family and friends in maintaining well being, who offer emotional and instrumental support, as well as practical support and reassurance, cannot be underestimated, it is also just as important, to maintain your own boundaries when it comes to these relationships. To the extent that they are conditional, they are most likely, not what you may think they are. In other words, sometimes, those people around you, whether in friendship or family, do not always have your best interests at heart. This is why it is so important to choose your inner circle carefully. Listen to your mind, heart and spirit. More than likely, those instruments will guide you to decide what kinds of decisions to make in terms of whom to stay connected to, and whom to bid farewell to.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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