Growing Your Relationships

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July 20, 2022

Writer and Researcher: K Ballesteros
Editor: Richardson dR Mojica
Graphics: Krystle Mae Labio and Jacklyn Moral
Tweetchat Moderators: Christine Joy Salva Cruz, Aiah Osano, Maria Lorrice Apostol
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While individual needs and experiences will naturally shift over time, the need for social support, partnership, friendship, and connection remains constant. Growing within relationships, growing relationships, and sustaining relationships will require compassion, understanding, and a willingness to participate in social partnerships that will require individuals to support others. 

According to Dr. Manly, human partnerships require several foundational pillars, namely: individual’s needs, the ability to answer others’ needs, the desire to engage in this partnership, being available and willing to participate in relationships, and the commitment to growing a relationship across time [1]. 

Strong social networks and supportive relationships also contribute greatly to greater life expectancy. According to Washington Post journalist Eric Talmadge, a “strong social network keeps older people actively involved in the community” and helps to keep stress levels low [3]. The life expectancy of Japanese residents of Okinawa exceeds the life expectancy of other populations, averaging at 81.2 years old. Part of their support system is the establishment of small peer groups and support systems called Maoi. 

Maoi is “a group of five friends who meet for a common purpose and to share advice and even financial assistance” [4]. What sets Maoi apart is the establishment of mutual support: “each member knows that [their] friends count on them as much as they count on their friends” [4]. Part of the Okinawa residents’ secret to a long, satisfying life is their membership in different maoi, which allows them to bond over mutual interests and establish deeper connections [4]. Being part of a Maoi also effectively creates a sense of belonging; being part of a Maoi means “having an obligation to support your friends…you can reap the rewards of their support…and feed off the positive energy” [4]. 

Okinawa residents who are part of Maoi also engage in building familial relationships with each other. Part of what strengthens relationships is the amount of quality time, communication, teamwork, and appreciation [5] that each member provides their social partners. Some behaviors to help establish better social partnerships include [2,5]: 

  1. Committing to doing regular, fun activities with social partners: Setting aside time and effort to pursue different activities to build memories; 
  2. Listening with full attention: Investing time in getting to know a social partner’s history may deepen connections and affirm an individual’s availability and interest; 
  3. Openness to talking about difficult things like mistakes, fears, and anxieties, and planning to handle these difficult conversations; 
  4. Acknowledging differences, talents, abilities, and strengths;
  5. Expressing appreciation verbally or nonverbally; 
  6. Avoiding those who have traits and characteristics that are harmful to relationships; and 
  7. Using strategies to regulate own emotions. 

 

As individuals grow older, an awareness of their own mortality allows adults to prioritize present-oriented goals, including regulating social experiences [2]. This means that as individuals get older, adults report higher levels of satisfaction with their social partnerships [2]. This 20th, #UsapTayo will talk about how individuals can sustain deeper connections that can, in turn, sustain mental and physical health. 

Questions: 

  1. How did your relationships with your friends and family change as you get older?
  2. Given where you are in your life, how do you grow your friendships to become more supportive of your mental health, and your emotional health? 
  3. What do you need now in relationships to feel secure, loved, and understood?

Works Cited: 

[1] Manly, C.M. (2019, August 2). This is why some relationships become less fulfilling as you get older. mindbodygreen. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-and-how-your-relationships-change-as-you-get-older/ 

 

[2] Luong G, Charles ST, Fingerman KL. Better With Age: Social Relationships Across Adulthood. J Soc Pers Relat. 2011 Feb 1;28(1):9-23. doi: 10.1177/0265407510391362. PMID: 22389547; PMCID: PMC3291125.

 

[3] Talmadge, E. (2001, December 2). Scientists shed light on why Okinawa is ‘land of immortals’. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/12/02/scientists-shed-light-on-why-okinawa-is-land-of-immortals/0195cd82-8df0-4bfa-8e30-0ec042279df3/ 

 

[4] Phillips, M. (2021, January 10). Moai: The underappreciated Okinawan value that leads to long and happy lives. Medium. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://medium.com/mind-cafe/moai-the-underappreciated-okinawan-value-that-leads-to-long-and-happy-lives-dcaa0c135867 

 

[5] Positive relationships for families: How to build them. Raising Children Network. (2020, August 31). Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/family-life/routines-rituals-relationships/good-family-relationships 



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