relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.
Chidhood Messages - How our experiences in childhood resurface in our adult lives.
As a child, you receive a variety of unconscious messages which you carry with you into later life.

The first significant relationships we have are usually within our families. By seeing how people relate to you and to each other, you begin to piece together a story of what relationships are all about.

As a child, you receive a variety of unconscious messages which you carry with you into later life. Broadly speaking, these messages fall into the following key areas.

Messages about trust
Are you the jealous type? Do you feel easily rejected? Do you struggle to make a commitment? Many such issues can be traced back to childhood.

If you came from a family in which you felt safe and secure, you'll probably find it easy to trust people as an adult. However, if you felt rejected, or lost someone close to you, you may find it harder to believe that others will love you and treat you well.

The ability to trust is very important in adult relationships. If things have happened in your past that have damaged your trust, you may find you need the understanding support of your partner to rebuild your faith in others.

Messages about communicating
If you find it easy to show your emotions, chances are you were brought up in a home where you were encouraged to be open about how you felt. You probably saw other people arguing - and saw them make up, too.

This taught you that conflict isn't the end of the world and communicating is a way of making life better.

The healthiest relationships are those where individuals can express themselves honestly and appropriately. It can be just as damaging to grow up in a family where disputes are ignored as it is to grow up in an angry hot-house.

Messages about authority and control
When adults grow up finding it difficult to cope with sharing or competition, often the root of the problem is a family where authority and control were badly managed.

If you learnt as a child that sharing was fun, you'll become an adult who enjoys sharing. If you grew up understanding that certain rules were in your best interests, you're less likely to have problems with authority.

We all need to feel we have control over our lives, and a child who's given responsibility from an early age is more likely to grow up feeling self-confident about the decisions they make - and the mistakes.

Learning throughout life
As well as these key relationship areas, we learn what being a couple is about from watching our parents. Even if you were raised in a single-parent family, you'll have learnt from the relationships your parent was in, or developed expectations about what being alone is like.

Whatever your situation, you'll have picked up important messages about:

* How much time couples should spend together and what they do together

* How couples sort out disagreements and what sort of things they disagree about

* How much affection they show each other and when and where can this be done

* Things which men are better at than women and vice versa

* Who's in charge of earning the money and who's in charge of spending it

* Who has the final word when making decisions

* Who's in charge of the house and home and who does what chores

* What sex is all about

* What men and women do when they're not with each other

* How men and women behave differently when they're angry or sad

* Who does what when something sad happens

* How to celebrate special occasions

* What men and women do that makes each other sad and happy

* Whether it's better to be in a couple than to be single

Remember, it's never too late to learn. Whatever messages you may have picked up, it's up to you to decide if you agree with them or not. And if you don't agree, you can develop new messages over time.

If this article has raised some difficult issues for you, then try talking it through with a partner or trusted friend. Alternatively you might want to consider seeing a relationship counsellor.