Relationships can bring meaning to your life, but only if you choose the right ones and nurture them. Whether they are casual, intimate or formal, relationships can help you feel connected to the world and give you a sense of purpose. They can also help you develop stronger communication and conflict resolution skills.

In a healthy relationship, the goal is to build trust and support each other’s individuality. A good partner will encourage you to pursue your interests, and they won’t try to take over or change you. However, this does not mean that you should ignore problems or let them fester. If your partner’s behavior is harmful, you should seek professional help to address it and set boundaries.

Almost everyone has an image in their mind of what a relationship should be like. Two people spend time together doing the things they love, while still finding time for themselves. They take care of each other’s needs and pamper each other. They can lean on each other through the tough times, but also celebrate the successes. They are happy in each other’s company, but they don’t need each other to be happy.

Unfortunately, many relationships fall far short of this ideal. Even when there is mutual agreement and commitment, relationships can be unhealthy. This may include emotional abuse, where one person controls or manipulates the other. It may also involve physical abuse, where one person hits or hurts the other in any way.

Family relationships can be another source of stress in a marriage or committed relationship. It is common for couples to have different views on what constitutes a “family.” Some couples prefer to see their families as a unit consisting of parents, children and grandchildren. Others define their family as a small group of close friends who share the same beliefs and values. Still others prefer to view their family as an extended network of people who help them through difficult times and provide emotional support.

In addition to romantic relationships, most people have a variety of other relationships in their lives. Some are casual acquaintances, such as those you might meet at work or school and chat with on occasion. These relationships may be based on mutual respect, shared activities or similar beliefs and values. Then there are the closest relationships, such as those between a spouse or significant other and their children. Finally, there are societies and nations, which are defined by the bounds of functional interdependence, usually based on cultural or ethnic identity, language and other characteristics. The type of relationship you have will depend on your unique circumstances and goals. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of a relationship can shift over time – and that’s okay. It is important to maintain healthy relationships outside of your romantic relationship so that you have a strong support system and can stand on your own if necessary. And, if you are in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, it is critical to end it.