You can build healthy and safe relationships, even though you may not feel it is possible because of the abuse you have suffered. With time and effort, you can experience fulfillment and joy in your interactions with others.
Building Healthy Relationships
Building relationships is similar to planting and growing seeds. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that a relationship “is like a flower, and, like the body, it needs constant feeding” (“Marriage and Divorce” [Brigham Young University devotional, Sept. 7, 1976], 6, speeches.byu.edu). Neglecting or mistreating a relationship causes it to wither and possibly die, similar to how a lack of nurture and care causes a plant to die. Both parties in a relationship need to give continual effort to build a safe and meaningful connection. Every relationship requires effort to build, maintain, or even repair that connection.
Healthy relationships include characteristics such as the following:
- Respect for each other’s agency and autonomy
- Compromising to meet each other’s needs
- Open communication of thoughts and feelings
- Honoring differences and strengths
- Mutual support
- Responsibility and accountability
- Clear, established boundaries
- Respect for others’ boundaries
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to build relationships with others is to strengthen your relationship with yourself and with God. Begin by learning to see yourself as God sees you—with great eternal potential.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “Take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. … Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 22).
Over time and with help from others, you can begin to see yourself differently and treat yourself with patience, kindness, respect, and forgiveness. You can learn to change your unhealthy beliefs and emotions. If you are struggling in your efforts, you may want to consider professional counseling. You may also need to establish or reestablish a support system.
As you strengthen your relationship with yourself and with God, you will learn how you can apply the same principles in establishing healthy relationships with others. Making the effort to create fulfilling, nurturing, and reciprocal relationships will bring you joy.
Community and Church Resources
(Some of the resources listed below are not created, maintained, or controlled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While these materials are intended to serve as additional resources, the Church does not endorse any content that is not in keeping with its doctrines and teachings.)
- “Boundaries,” A Guide to Psychology and Its Practice
- “Setting Healthy Boundaries with Your Child in Recovery,” Sober College Rehab Redefined
- “Setting Boundaries,” Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse (HAVOCA)
- “Teaching Boundaries,” Children’s Center
- “What Is a Healthy Relationship?” The National Domestic Violence Hotline