Better Manhood Skills: Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an important skill for everyone, not just men. In this next post in my series about creating a roadmap for better manhood, I describe why relationship management is another critical soft skill every man needs. I explain how relationships involve our romantic partnerships, friendships, family connections, and professional relationships. I also explain the benefits of mastering this important skill because when a young male masters it, he begins to show up as a mature man and succeeds in this world. 

Relationship Management Defined

There are several principles and practices that help foster healthy, fulfilling, and respectful relationships. This includes relationships with the opposite sex for dating and marriage if that is in your future. It also includes your ongoing and longer-term relationship with family (parents, siblings, spouse, and children), but also friends, neighbors, and co-workers since each of these relationships contributes to your well-being and success.  

Let’s start with some key aspects of relationship management:

  • Communication: Effective communication is the foundation of any successful relationship. It involves active listening, knowing how to properly express your feelings and thoughts, and engaging in open and honest dialogue. Many men struggle to communicate their emotions and needs, but we must also learn to be receptive to the needs of others. Knowing that communication is a two-way street is the key so go back and read my earlier post on how to Be a Good Communicator.  
  • Emotional Intelligence: Many men need to develop self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills to understand and manage their emotions. Once they become attuned to your emotions and the emotions of others, you can improve all of your relationships. See more in my previous post in this series on Controlling Your Emotions.
  • Respect: Respecting others is critical. Males must learn to treat everyone with dignity and understand the importance of autonomy. This includes respecting people’s opinions, choices, and individuality.
  • Trust: Building and maintaining trust is vital. Learn to be reliable and honest in your interactions but also learn to trust your partners, friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
  • Support: Providing emotional support, encouragement, and validation is not easy and is a challenge for many men. Learning how to support others is essential during challenging times and when celebrating successes.
  • Intimacy: Developing emotional and physical intimacy is crucial to adulthood. This involves being emotionally present in the presence of others, especially your spouse and children. This also helps you maintain a satisfying sexual connection with your spouse but also closer, more emotionally intimate friendships.
  • Boundaries: Setting and respecting personal boundaries is important for all relationships. Men must learn to respect boundaries, especially physically. They should also learn to communicate their own boundaries on time and physical space as well.
  • Self-Care: My post on Self-care reminds us that our physical and mental health is important for maintaining a healthy balance between personal, work, and relationship commitments.
  • Equality: Promoting equal say in decision-making and domestic responsibilities helps offset any imbalance at home. Breaking down gender stereotypes also helps promote the idea that men are capable of nurturing, empathetic, and respectful behavior.
  • Conflict Resolution: Disagreements and conflicts are a normal part of any relationship. Learning healthy ways to resolve conflicts, requires compromise and effective problem-solving. It also offsets resorting to aggression or passive-aggressive behavior.  
  • Empowerment: Everyone needs encouragement so learning to empower others to pursue individual goals and personal growth shows you support their development and aspirations.
  • Patience and Adaptability: Learning patience and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances is another key to all relationships. Be willing to evolve and cooperate with your family and friends to navigate life’s challenges together.

All of these factors contribute to building and maintaining strong relationships. But realize that a healthy relationship is a shared responsibility. Know who you can trust and who you need to keep at arms-length since not all relationships are beneficial to you. Learn how to add value to others so you are viewed as someone who uses people.  

The Benefits of Strong Relationships 

Good relationship skills provide numerous benefits that contribute to your quality of life and success as an adult. Some of the benefits include: 

  • Improved Well-being: Healthy relationships provide strong emotional support that helps reduce stress and improve Good friends and family provide greater emotional stability and happiness.
  • Personal Growth: Strong, trusting relationships help you learn more about yourself. They help identify your strengths and weaknesses to help become a better man. 
  • Social Connection: Relationships are a fundamental human need. Positive and uplifting relationships provide a sense of belonging, identity, and fulfillment that leads to a richer, more satisfying life.
  • Physical Health: Studies show that individuals with strong and supportive relationships tend to have better physical health and greater longevity. They also tend to engage in healthier behaviors and experience lower levels of stress.
  • Career Success: Good relationship management skills often translate into success in the workplace. The ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with colleagues, and manage interpersonal dynamics is essential for professional advancement.
  • Family and Parenting: Men who have healthy positive relationships become better fathers and husbands, contributing to a more harmonious family environment.
  • Preventing Violence and Abuse: Promoting healthy relationships is essential in preventing violence and abuse. Teaching immature males respect, empathy, and non-violence will reduce the occurrence of these harmful behaviors.
  • Encourages Diversity: Appreciating and accepting all races, religions, sexualities, and cultures is a big part of being a good man. This isn’t just about not being homophobic, racist, or sexist. It means you truly appreciate everyone’s differences and uniqueness by making them feel valued. 
  • Social Impact: Men play a crucial role in building and maintaining inclusive, diverse, and equitable communities. They support social causes and advocate for gender equality and human rights.

Everyone benefits from having healthy relationships. It helps you be a better man, husband, father, friend, neighbor, and co-worker. It also has a positive impact on our communities and society as a whole.

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GodBuddy Focus 

While a man’s relationships with his spouse, children, family, neighbors, and co-workers are important, there are two other relationships men need: a relationship with God, and a deeper relationship with a community of like-minded friends. 

Our relationship with God is a deeply personal and spiritual connection that impacts almost everything we do and believe. While different religions have specific doctrines, scriptures, and practices that guide how to understand, connect with, and worship the divine, your relationship with God influences so much more of your life. It shapes your spiritual practices and disciplines. It shapes your moral and ethical principles, values, and sense of right and wrong. Most importantly, it impacts how you interact, respect, and value people. It also provides an understanding of compassion, kindness, and love, which are the strongest influences on all relationships. 

I also believe that every man needs deeper, more authentic friendships or what I call GodBuddies. These are friends who encourage each other to live to the higher standards of manhood. GBs encourage you to grow and support you through the struggles of life. They also help your relationship with God and strengthen your relationships with everyone else. And who wouldn’t want relationships like that? 

For discussion:

  • What relationships are most important to you? 
  • Have there been some relationships in your life that need repair? 
  • What is your understanding of and relationship with God?
  • Who can help you develop the skills needed to build and maintain better relationships in all areas of your life?

[Feature Image by Laura Margarita Cedeño Peralta on Unsplash]

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