Vicki Enns, MMFT, RMFT-SM

  • Relationships

Strengthening Relationships Through Positive Connections

Powerful small steps to increase the quality of relationships..

Posted February 2, 2021 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

  • Why Relationships Matter
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One of the most powerful ways to calm down from stress or anxiety is to connect and spend time with someone who matters to us. When we spend time with those we let into our inner circle – our closest friends, spouses, family members, or even our favourite beings (human or not) – we have the opportunity to create deeply engrained, positive patterns of comfort that we can access when we are far away from the ones we love.

What is one of your favourite comforting memories of a loved one? I can remember my mom brushing out my hair before bedtime when I was small, laying on the grass looking at clouds with my favourite dog when I was 12, or, more recently, the touch of my spouse’s hand on my face.

Positive connections like the ones I’ve mentioned are precious. They are often made up of small, familiar gestures, sensations, or words that become linked to patterns of positive connection in our feelings and thoughts about ourselves, others, or life in general.

These are the kinds of memories that have the power to help us feel calm, more secure, or just a little better about life. They hold an important key to what can help us have stronger positive connections in our current relationships.

The flip side to the role of positive connection is that it is also natural to feel intense distress or sadness when we can’t connect in our relationships. The lack of opportunities to connect or the worry that the other person doesn’t care about us in the same way can cause powerful anger and panic, or a sense of abandonment and distress.

These more negative patterns of connection often catch and hold our attention more readily than the positive ones. Most of us spend a lot of energy worrying or fighting in our relationships, trying to argue our way to more connection. This rarely works out well.

Although it can be helpful to intentionally work on the difficult patterns, one of the most powerful antidotes to feelings of disconnection is actively and regularly turning our attention to small, repeated ways in which we can nurture positive connection. In fact, simple ways of doing this are often better, and the keys are awareness and repetition.

Steps for strengthening positive connections:

1. Identify everyday moments that contribute to feelings of calmness, connectedness, and positivity. These moments might be from past relationships, childhood , or current experiences. Consider the small things – does a good conversation make you feel connected? Or is it spending some quiet time with a loved one while walking, watching a movie, or taking a nap? Perhaps it is making food together, debriefing stresses of your day or sending goofy jokes to each other?

The point is to notice the repeated, small gestures or experiences that matter to you. It is these repeated patterns of positive connection that confirm our sense of self, and our sense of trust and security in the relationship.

When you notice the small things that you appreciate, make sure you tell the other person. Take note of these moments and create opportunities to engage in them.

2. Consider the other person in the relationship. What matters to them?

When do they seem more settled, calm, and comfortable with themselves? What kinds of activities are they doing? How can you be part of it? Ask what matters to them, and be intentional about being open and engaged during these times.

Research into the question of what builds stability and satisfaction in close relationships highlights the importance of actively responding and engaging in small, everyday moments. Engaging in these moments predicts greater stability and satisfaction in relationships. In fact, regularly taking part in these positive connections carries much more weight than grand gestures like a big present or celebration (although these matter too). This is true for any relationship, whether it’s with your spouse, your child, a good friend, or a neighbour.

3. Make it a priority to fit positive connection moments into your regular interactions, even when there is stress in the relationship .

The good news is that you already have everything you need to complete these steps. The challenge is to be proactive in making them happen, especially if there are also patterns of disconnection or anger in the relationship.

essay on positive relationship

Too often our attention in relationships is caught up in anger, disappointment, regret, or pushing for something to change. All of our close relationships would be boosted in their strength and solidity if we brought more intention and attention to making the small, positive connections matter. Be sure to take these small steps, and take them often – this will strengthen the relationship and make it more resilient and nurturing to all involved.

Facebook image: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Vicki Enns, MMFT, RMFT-SM

Vicki Enns, MMFT, RMFT-SM, is a couple and family therapist and Clinical Director of the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute.

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12 Elements of Healthy Relationships

In every relationship , it’s important to consider how we treat  one an other.  Whether it’s  romantic , platonic , familial, intimate , or sexual , your relationship  with another should be respectful, honest, and fun.  

When relationships are healthy, they promote  emotional and social  well ness .  When relationships are unhealthy,  you  may feel drained, overwhelmed, and  invisible .   

In a pandemic, it’s even more important to consid er how you engage with others.   B oundaries, communication, and time apart  are vital to having relationships everyone  involved  feels good about.   Reflect on your current relationships and consider how you can incorporate the  elements  listed below:  

  • Communication . The way you talk with friends or partners is an important part of a relationship. Everyone involved should be able to communicate feelings, opinions, and beliefs. When communicating, consider tone and phrasing. Miscommunication often occurs when individuals choose to text versus talking in person or a phone call. Figuring out the best ways to express your feelings together will help eliminate miscommunication.
  • Boundaries . Boundaries are physical, emotional, and mental limits or guidelines a person sets for themselves which others need to respect. You and your partners or friends should feel comfortable in the activities you are doing together. All individuals involved should be respectful of boundaries. Whether it’s romantic, sexual, or platonic, consider what you want the relationship to look like and discuss it with the other(s).
  • Consent . Consent is important in all relationships. Consent is uncoerced permission to interact with the body or the life of another person. Coercion can look like pressure to do something, physical force, bargaining, or someone holding power over another to get what they want. Consent can look like asking about boundaries in relationships, actively listening to responses, and always respecting those boundaries.
  • Trust . Each person in the relationship should have confidence in one another. If you are questioning whether to trust someone, it may be important to communicate your feelings to them. Consider what makes you not trust someone. Is it something they did, or is it something you’ve experienced in other relationships?
  • Honesty . Honesty is important for communication. Each person within the relationship or friendship should have the opportunity to express their feelings and concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable being honest with someone, consider why and seek support if needed.
  • Independence . It’s important to have time to yourself in any relationship. Having opportunities to hang with others or time for self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship. If you live with your partner(s) or friend(s), set up designated areas within your place where you can spend time alone.
  • Equality . Each person in the relationship should have an equal say in what’s going on. Listen to each other and respect boundaries.
  • Support . Each person in the relationship should feel supported. It’s important to have compassion and empathy for one another. In addition to supporting one another, it’s important to recognize your own needs and communicate boundaries around support.
  • Responsibility . Some days you may find you said something hurtful or made a mistake. Make sure to take responsibility for your actions and do not place the blame on your partner(s) or friend(s). Taking responsibility for your actions will further trust and honesty.
  • Healthy conflict . You may think conflict is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, but talking about issues or disagreements is normal. You won’t find a person that has the exact same interests, opinions, and beliefs as you; thus, at times disagreements may occur. Communicating your feelings and opinions while being respectful and kind is part of a healthy relationship.
  • Safety . Safety is the foundation of connection in a relationship. In order to set boundaries, communicate, and have fun, everyone must feel safe. If you do not feel safe to express your feelings, have independence, or anything else on this list, seek support using the resources below.
  • Fun . In addition to all these components, you should be enjoying the time you spend with others. Again, it’s important that your relationships promote your well-being and do not diminish it.

Want to learn more about healthy relationships? Check out this quiz by Love is Respect , a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline .

If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, the university has confidential, non-confidential, and peer-led resources you can contact for help and support.

Confidential resources provide assistance and support and information shared is protected and cannot be reported unless given explicit permission from the individual that disclosed; there is imminent threat of harm to the individual or others; the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor under the age of 18; or otherwise permitted by law or court order.

Non-confidential resources are available to provide support or assistance to individuals but are not confidential and may have broader obligations to report information. Non-confidential resources will report information only to the necessary departments, such as Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

Peer-led resources are available to provide support and assistance. Services are provided by Johns Hopkins students, and are non-confidential.

Hopkins Confidential Resources

  • Counseling Center : 410-516-8278 (press 1 for the on-call counselor). Serves all full-time undergraduate & graduate students from KSAS, WSE, and Peabody.
  • Counseling Center Sexual Assault HelpLine: 410-516-7333. Serves all Johns Hopkins students.
  • Student Health and Wellness Center : 410-516-4784. Serves all full-time, part-time, and visiting undergraduate and graduate students from KSAS, WSE, and Peabody. Serves post-doctoral fellows enrolled in KSAS, WSE, School of Education, and Sheridan Libraries.
  • Religious and Spiritual Life : 410-516-1880.
  • Gender Violence Prevention and Education: Alyse Campbell, [email protected] , book a time to chat at: . Serves all Johns Hopkins students.
  • University Health Services (UHS): 410-955-3250
  • Mental Health Services : 410-955-1892
  • Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program (JHSAP): 443-287-7000. Serves graduate, medical, and professional students, and immediate family members.

Hopkins Non-confidential Resources

  • Hopkins Sexual Assault Response and Prevention website
  • Campus Safety and Security : 410-516-7777
  • Office of LGBTQ Life : [email protected]
  • Office of Institutional Equity : 410-516-8075
  • Office of the Dean of Student Life : 410-516-8208

Peer-Led Resources

  • Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU): Private hotline: 410-516-7887. Serves all Johns Hopkins students.
  • A Place to Talk (available on Zoom). Serves Homewood undergrads.

Community Resources

  • TurnAround Inc. Hotline : 443-279-0379
  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest, National Network : National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
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The Science Behind Happy Relationships

W hen it comes to relationships , most of us are winging it. We’re exhilarated by the early stages of love , but as we move onto the general grind of everyday life, personal baggage starts to creep in and we can find ourselves floundering in the face of hurt feelings, emotional withdrawal, escalating conflict, insufficient coping techniques and just plain boredom. There’s no denying it: making and keeping happy and healthy relationships is hard.

But a growing field of research into relationships is increasingly providing science-based guidance into the habits of the healthiest, happiest couples — and how to make any struggling relationship better. As we’ve learned, the science of love and relationships boils down to fundamental lessons that are simultaneously simple, obvious and difficult to master: empathy, positivity and a strong emotional connection drive the happiest and healthiest relationships.

Maintaining a strong emotional connection

“The most important thing we’ve learned, the thing that totally stands out in all of the developmental psychology, social psychology and our lab’s work in the last 35 years is that the secret to loving relationships and to keeping them strong and vibrant over the years, to falling in love again and again, is emotional responsiveness,” says Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist in Ottawa and the author of several books, including Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love .

That responsiveness, in a nutshell, is all about sending a cue and having the other person respond to it. “The $99 million question in love is, ‘Are you there for me?’” says Johnson. “It’s not just, ‘Are you my friend and will you help me with the chores?’ It’s about emotional synchronicity and being tuned in.”

“Every couple has differences,” continues Johnson. “What makes couples unhappy is when they have an emotional disconnection and they can’t get a feeling of secure base or safe haven with this person.” She notes that criticism and rejection — often met with defensiveness and withdrawal — are exceedingly distressing, and something that our brain interprets as a danger cue.

To foster emotional responsiveness between partners, Johnson pioneered Emotionally Focused Therapy , in which couples learn to bond through having conversations that express needs and avoid criticism. “Couples have to learn how to talk about feelings in ways that brings the other person closer,” says Johnson.

Keeping things positive

According to Carrie Cole, director of research for the Gottman Institute , an organization dedicated to the research of marriage, emotional disengagement can easily happen in any relationship when couples are not doing things that create positivity. “When that happens, people feel like they’re just moving further and further apart until they don’t even know each other anymore,” says Cole. That focus on positivity is why the Gottman Institute has embraced the motto “small things often.” The Gottman Lab has been studying relationship satisfaction since the 1970s, and that research drives the Institute’s psychologists to encourage couples to engage in small, routine points of contact that demonstrate appreciation.

One easy place to start is to find ways to compliment your partner every day, says Cole — whether it’s expressing your appreciation for something they’ve done or telling them, specifically, what you love about them. This exercise can accomplish two beneficial things: First, it validates your partner and helps them feel good about themselves. And second, it helps to remind you why you chose that person in the first place.

Listen to the brain, not just your heart

When it comes to the brain and love, biological anthropologist and Kinsey Institute senior fellow Helen Fisher has found — after putting people into a brain scanner — that there are three essential neuro-chemical components found in people who report high relationship satisfaction: practicing empathy, controlling one’s feelings and stress and maintaining positive views about your partner.

In happy relationships, partners try to empathize with each other and understand each other’s perspectives instead of constantly trying to be right. Controlling your stress and emotions boils down to a simple concept: “Keep your mouth shut and don’t act out,” says Fisher. If you can’t help yourself from getting mad, take a break by heading out to the gym, reading a book, playing with the dog or calling a friend — anything to get off a destructive path. Keeping positive views of your partner, which Fisher calls “positive illusions,” are all about reducing the amount of time you spend dwelling on negative aspects of your relationship. “No partner is perfect, and the brain is well built to remember the nasty things that were said,” says Fisher. “But if you can overlook those things and just focus on what’s important, it’s good for the body, good for the mind and good for the relationship.”

Happier relationships, happier life

Ultimately, the quality of a person’s relationships dictates the quality of their life. “Good relationships aren’t just happier and nicer,” says Johnson. “When we know how to heal [relationships] and keep them strong, they make us resilient. All these clichés about how love makes us stronger aren’t just clichés; it’s physiology. Connection with people who love and value us is our only safety net in life.”

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The Power of Healthy Relationships at Work

  • Emma Seppälä
  • Nicole K. McNichols

essay on positive relationship

Five research-backed principles to cultivate stronger workplace relationships.

Research shows that leaders who prioritize relationships with their employees and lead from a place of positivity and kindness simply do better, and company culture has a bigger influence on employee well-being than salary and benefits. When it comes to cultivating happiness at work, it comes down to fostering positive relationships at work. Citing research from the field of social psychology, the authors outline five core principles that make all relationships, personal or professional, thrive: 1) transparency and authenticity, 2) inspiration, 3) emotional intelligence, 4) self-care, and 5) values.

Kushal Choksi was a successful Wall Street quant who had just entered the doors of the second twin tower on 9/11 when it got hit. As Choksi describes in his best-selling book, On a Wing and a Prayer , his brush with death was a wakeup call. Having mainly focused on wealth acquisition before 9/11, he began to question his approach to work.

  • Emma Seppälä , PhD, is a faculty member at the Yale School of Management, faculty director of the Yale School of Management’s Women’s Leadership Program and bestselling author of SOVEREIGN (2024) and The Happiness Track (2017). She is also science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education . Follow her work at , or on Instagram . emmaseppala
  • Nicole K. McNichols  Ph.D. is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington where she teaches courses about sex and relationship science in addition to industrial and organizational psychology. Follow her work at and on Instagram .

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Become a Writer Today

Essays About Relationships: Top 5 Examples Plus 8 Prompts

With rich essays about relationships plus prompts, this writing guide could help you contemplate relationships, including your own.

Healthy relationships come with the rewards of intimacy, love, and the support we need. Learning to preserve healthy relationships and throw out harmful ones is a critical skill to lead a successful life. That is exactly why Warren Buffet , one of the most successful investors, said the most important decision you will make is your choice of a significant partner. 

There are several types of relationships your essay could focus on in your next piece of writing. Take a leap and tackle intimate individual-level relationships or community or even global-level relationships. You might also be interested in our list of books to read after a breakup .

5 Essay Examples

1. relationship weight gain is real — and can be a sign of happiness by angela haupt, 2. what does it mean to be ‘ready’ for a relationship by julie beck, 3. why adult children cut ties with their parents by sharon martin, 4. a relationship under extreme duress: u.s.-china relations at a crossroads by michael d. swaine, 5. how to build strong business relationships — remotely by jeanne m. brett and tyree mitchell, 1. strengthening communication in relationships, 2. helping children build healthy friendships, 3. how social media affects our relationships , 4. establishing relationships with influencers, 5. importance of police-community relationships, 6. dealing with challenging work relationships, 7. promoting cross-cultural relationships among schools, 8. why do long-term relationships fail.

“…[A]mong those who had been married for more than four years, happy couples were twice as likely to put on weight than couples who reported not being as content with their relationship.”

Gaining pounds when you’re in a relationship is real. This essay backs it up with research and even seeks to answer who puts on the most pounds in the relationship. For those hoping to transform their lifestyle, the essay offers practical tips couples can do together to lose pounds while protecting the relationship and preserving the joy that brought them together. You might also be interested in these essays about divorce .

“Readiness, then, is not a result of achieving certain life milestones, or perfect mental health. And checking off items on a checklist doesn’t guarantee a relationship when the checklist is complete.”

People have a variety of reasons for not being ready to commit to a relationship. They may be more committed to developing their careers or simply enjoy the solitude of singlehood. But this essay debunks the concept of readiness for building relationships. Through interviews, one finds that relationships can happen when you least expect them. You might also be interested in these essays about reflection .

“Parent-child relationships, in particular, are expected to be unwavering and unconditional. But this isn’t always the case—some adults cut ties with or distance themselves from their parents or other family members.”

No matter how painful it is, some adults decide to cut off family members to heal from a toxic or abusive childhood relationship or protect themselves if the abuse or toxicity continues. In exploring the primary causes of estrangement, the well-researched essay shows that estrangement may run deep with years of conflict and many attempts to recover the relationship, rather than merely being the whim of selfish adults.

“…Beijing and Washington are transitioning from a sometimes contentious yet mutually beneficial relationship to an increasingly antagonistic, mutually destructive set of interactions.”

The essay charts the 40-year relationship between China and the US and points out how both parties have mutually benefited from the bilateral relations. This starkly contrasts Washington’s accusation that the relationship has been a zero-sum game, one of the numerous oft-heard allegations in the Washington community. But with the looming increase in tension, competition, and potentially a devastating Cold War between the two, parties must work to find a middle ground.

“Although many managers have adapted to virtual meetings to replace face-to-face ones as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, developing new business relationships online presents a particular set of challenges.”

Authors interview 82 managers pre-pandemic and reconnect with some during the health crisis to find out how they have been building relationships with business partners through virtual meetings. Most admit the challenge of establishing trust and assessing partners’ competency, especially when billion-dollar deals are at stake. The authors offer four key pieces of advice to overcome these difficulties. You might find our guide on how to write a vow helpful.

8 Writing Prompts On Essays About Relationships

Essays About Relationships: Strengthening communication in relationships

We all know that communication is what strengthens relationships. But this is easier said than done when both sides want to talk and not listen. For this prompt, discuss the importance of open communication in relationships. Then, offer tips on how to improve communication in relationships and deal with communication gaps. One scenario you can look into is discussing problems in a relationship without getting into a heated debate.

In this essay, you can help parents become effective coaches for their children to make and keep friends. Warn them against being too authoritative in directing their children and instead allow the kids to be part of the ongoing conversation. Give your readers tips on how to build friendships such as promoting kindness, sharing, and understanding from a young age. You may also enjoy these essays about friendships .

When writing this essay, list the positive and negative effects of social media on relationships. A positive outcome of having social media is 24/7 access to our loved ones. One negative effect includes decreased time for more meaningful physical bonding. So, provide tips on how people in relationships can start putting down their mobile phones and talk heart-to-heart again. 

Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective ways to spread your brand message on social media. First, explore why consumers trust influencers as credible product or service review sources. Then, try to answer some of the burning questions your readers may have, such as whether influencer marketing works for big and small businesses and how to choose the perfect influencer to endorse your brand.

In a working police-community relationship, police officials and community members work together to fight crime through information-sharing and other measures. Discuss this interesting topic for an exciting essay.

First, look into the level of working relationship between the police and your community through existing enforcement programs. Then, with the data gathered, analyze how they cooperate to improve your community. You can also build on the United States Department of Justice’s recommendations to lay down the best practices for strengthening police-community relationships. 

Essays About Relationships: Dealing with challenging work relationships

Amid competition, a workplace must still be conducive to cooperative relationships among employees to work on shared goals. Create an essay that enumerates the negative effects of work relationships on employee productivity and an office’s overall performance. Then cite tips on what managers and employees can do to maintain a professional and diplomatic atmosphere in the workplace. You can include points from the University of Queensland recommendations, including maintaining respect.

Students in a foreign country tend to feel distant from school life and society. Schools have a critical role in helping them feel at home and safe enough to share their ideas confidently. Set out the other benefits school environments can reap from fostering robust cross-cultural relationships and cite best practices. One example of a best practice is the buddy system, where international students are linked to local students, who could help expand their networks in the facility and even show them around the area to reveal its attributes.

When couples make it through the seven-year itch or the average time relationships last, everything down the road is said to be more manageable. However, some couples break up even after decades of being together. Explore the primary causes behind the failure of long-term relationships and consider the first signs that couples are growing distant from each other.

Look into today’s social sentiments and determine whether long-term relationships are declining. If they are, contemplate whether this should be a cause for concern or merely an acceptable change in culture. For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers and our essay writing tips .

essay on positive relationship

Yna Lim is a communications specialist currently focused on policy advocacy. In her eight years of writing, she has been exposed to a variety of topics, including cryptocurrency, web hosting, agriculture, marketing, intellectual property, data privacy and international trade. A former journalist in one of the top business papers in the Philippines, Yna is currently pursuing her master's degree in economics and business.

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6 Types of Relationships and Their Effect on Your Life

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

essay on positive relationship

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program.

essay on positive relationship

Verywell / Laura Porter

What Is a Relationship?

Basic types of relationships, defining your relationship, how to keep your relationship healthy.

Interpersonal relationships make up a huge and vital part of your life. These relationships can range from close and intimate to distant and challenging. No matter the nature of the relationship, different types of relationships help make up the social support network that is pivotal for both your physical and mental well-being.

To better understand and discuss these relationships accurately, it can be helpful to learn more about the different types of relationships that a person can have. 

A relationship is any connection between two people, which can be either positive or negative.

You can have a relationship with a wide range of people, including family and friends. The phrase "being in a relationship," while often linked with romantic relationships, can refer to various associations one person has with another.

To "be in a relationship" doesn't always mean there is physical intimacy, emotional attachment, and/or commitment involved. People engage in many different types of relationships that have unique characteristics.

Relationships typically fall into one of several different categories (although these can sometimes overlap):

  • Family relationships
  • Friendships
  • Acquaintances
  • Romantic relationships
  • Sexual relationships
  • Work relationships
  • Situational relationships (sometimes called " situationships ")

These different forms of relationships can vary greatly in terms of closeness, and there are also different subtypes of relationships within each of these basic types. Some of the different kinds of relationships that you might experience at some point in your life include the following.

While there are many different types of relationships, the four main types are typically identified as family relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, and acquaintanceships.

Platonic Relationships

A platonic relationship is a type of friendship that involves a close, intimate bond without sex or romance. These relationships tend to be characterized by:

  • Understanding

Platonic relationships can occur in a wide range of settings and can involve same-sex or opposite-sex friendships. You might form a platonic relationship with a classmate or co-worker, or you might make a connection with a person in another setting such as a club, athletic activity, or volunteer organization you are involved in.

This type of relationship can play an essential role in providing social support, which is essential for your health and well-being. Research suggests that platonic friendships can help reduce your risk for disease, lower your risk for depression or anxiety, and boost your immunity.

Platonic relationships are those that involve closeness and friendship without sex. Sometimes platonic relationships can change over time and shift into a romantic or sexual relationship.

Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships are those characterized by feelings of love and attraction for another person. While romantic love can vary, it often involves feelings of infatuation, intimacy, and commitment. 

Experts have come up with a variety of different ways to describe how people experience and express love. For example, psychologist Robert Sternberg suggests three main components of love: passion, intimacy, and decision/commitment. Romantic love, he explains, is a combination of passion and intimacy.

Romantic relationships tend to change over time. At the start of a relationship, people typically experience stronger feelings of passion. During this initial infatuation period, the brain releases specific neurotransmitters ( dopamine , oxytocin , and serotonin ) that cause people to feel euphoric and "in love." 

Over time, these feelings start to lessen in their intensity. As the relationship matures, people develop deeper levels of emotional intimacy and understanding.  

Romantic relationships often burn hot at the beginning. While the initial feelings of passion usually lessen in strength over time, feelings of trust, emotional intimacy, and commitment grow stronger.

Codependent Relationships

A codependent relationship is an imbalanced, dysfunctional type of relationship in which a partner has an emotional, physical, or mental reliance on the other person.

It is also common for both partners to be mutually co-dependent on each other. Both may take turns enacting the caretaker role, alternating between the caretaker and the receiver of care.

Characteristics of a codependent relationship include:

  • Acting as a giver while the other person acts as a taker
  • Going to great lengths to avoid conflict with the other person
  • Feeling like you have to ask permission to do things
  • Having to save or rescue the other person from their own actions
  • Doing things to make someone happy, even if they make you uncomfortable
  • Feeling like you don't know who you are in the relationship
  • Elevating the other person even if they've done nothing to earn your goodwill and admiration

Not all codependent relationships are the same, however. They can vary in terms of severity. Codependency can impact all different types of relationships including relationships between romantic partners, parents and children, friendship, other family members, and even coworkers.

Codependent relationships are co-constructed. While one partner might seem more "needy," the other partner might feel more comfortable being needed.

Someone who feels more comfortable being needed, for instance, may avoid focusing on their own needs by choosing a partner who constantly needs them.

Casual Relationships

Casual relationships often involve dating relationships that may include sex without expectations of monogamy or commitment. However, experts suggest that the term is vague and can mean different things to different people. 

According to the authors of one study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality , casual relationships can encompass situations such as:

  • One-night stands
  • Booty calls
  • "Sex" buddies
  • Friends with benefits 

Such relationships often exist on a continuum that varies in the levels of frequency of contact, type of contact, amount of personal disclosure, discussion of the relationship, and degree of friendship. The study found that people with more sexual experience were better able to identify the definitions of these labels compared to people with less sexual experience.

Casual relationships are often common among young adults. As long as casual relationships are marked by communication and consent, they can have several sex-positive benefits. They can satisfy the need for sex, intimacy, connection, and companionship without the emotional demand and energy commitment of a more serious relationship.

Casual relationships tend to be more common among younger adults, but people of any age can engage in this type of relationship. Consent and communication are key.

Open Relationships

An open relationship is a type of consensually non-monogamous relationship in which one or more partners have sex or relationships with other people. Both people agree to have sex with other people in an open relationship but may have certain conditions or limitations.

Open relationships can take place in any type of romantic relationship, whether casual, dating, or married. 

There tends to be a stigma surrounding non-monogamous relationships. Still, research suggests that around 21% to 22% of adults will be involved in some type of open relationship at some point in their life.

The likelihood of engaging in an open relationship also depends on gender and sexual orientation. Men reported having higher numbers of open relationships compared to women; people who identify as gay, lesbian, and bisexual relative to those who identify as heterosexual were more likely to report previous engagement in open relationships.

Such relationships can have benefits, including increased sexual freedom and pitfalls such as jealousy and emotional pain. Open relationships are more successful when couples establish personal, emotional, and sexual boundaries and clearly communicate their feelings and needs with one another.

Open relationships are a form of consensual non-monogamy. While there is a primary emotional and often physical connection between the two people in the relationship, they mutually agree to intimacy with other people outside of the relationship.

Toxic Relationships

A toxic relationship is any type of interpersonal relationship where your emotional, physical, or psychological well-being is undermined or threatened in some way. Such relationships often leave you feeling ashamed, humiliated, misunderstood, or unsupported.

Any type of relationship can be toxic including friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships, or workplace relationships.

Toxic relationships are characterized by:

  • A lack of support
  • Competitiveness
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Gaslighting
  • Passive-aggressive behaviors
  • Poor communication

Sometimes all people in a relationship play a role in creating this toxicity. For example, you may be contributing to toxicity if you are all consistently unkind, critical, insecure, and negative.

In other cases, one person in a relationship may behave in ways that create toxic feelings. This may be intentional, but in other cases, people may not fully understand how they are affecting other people. Because of their past experiences with relationships, often in their home growing up, they may not know any other way of acting and communicating.

This doesn't just create discontentment—toxic relationships can take a serious toll on your health. For example, according to one study, stress caused by negative relationships has a direct impact on cardiovascular health. Feeling isolated and misunderstood in a relationship can also lead to loneliness , which has been shown to have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health.

Toxic relationships can be stressful, harmful, and even abusive. If you are in a toxic relationship with someone in your life, work on creating strong boundaries to protect yourself. Talk to a mental health professional or consider terminating the relationship if it is causing you harm.

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database .

How you define your relationship depends on various factors, including what matters to you and how the other person feels. To define your relationship, it can be helpful to ask a few questions:

  • Do you have romantic feelings for one another?
  • What does each person hope to get out of the relationship?
  • How much time do you want to spend together?
  • Where do you see the relationship going?
  • Are you currently involved with or want to be involved with other people?

Figuring out what matters to you and your partner is an important step in defining the type of relationship you are interested in having. You might find that you are both on the same page or discover that you want different things out of your relationship. 

Defining your relationship doesn't have to mean committing for the long-term. Instead, it can be a way to help you both better understand the boundaries and expectations of your relationship.

Regardless of how you define your relationship, there are important steps you can take to ensure that your connection is healthy. Strategies that can help include:

  • Showing appreciation and gratitude
  • Communicating openly and honestly
  • Being affectionate and showing that you care 
  • Mutual respect 
  • Actively listening
  • Showing interest in each other
  • Being supportive and encouraging
  • Feeling empathy for each other
  • Spending time together
  • Having healthy boundaries
  • Being trustworthy

Communication is often the single most important thing in a relationship. Good relationships are also marked by honesty, trust , and reciprocity . This doesn't mean that the relationship is purely transactional ; it indicates that you naturally engage in a give and take that provides mutually beneficial support.

A Word From Verywell

No matter what type of relationship you have with another person(s), it is important for it to be a healthy one. Healthy relationships are characterized by trust, mutual respect, openness, honesty, and affection. Good communication is also a hallmark of a healthy relationship.

There are steps that you can take to improve your relationships with other people. Making sure you let others know you care and showing your appreciation are two strategies that can be helpful. 

But if a relationship is causing stress or shows signs of being toxic, look for ways to establish clear boundaries, talk to a therapist, or even consider ending the relationship if it is too unhealthy.

Social relationships are important and they come in all different types. Having a variety of relationships with different people can ensure that you have the support and connections you need for your emotional health and well-being. 

Miller A. Friends wanted . Monitor on Psychology . 2014;45(1):54.

Gawda B. The structure of the concepts related to love spectrum: emotional verbal fluency technique application, initial psychometrics, and its validation . J Psycholinguist Res . 2019;48(6):1339-1361. doi:10.1007/s10936-019-09661-y

Wentland JJ, Reissing ED. Casual sexual relationships: Identifying definitions for one night stands, booty calls, f--- buddies, and friends with benefits . Can J Hum Sex. 2014;23(3):167-177. doi:10.3138/cjhs.2744

Rodrigue C, Fernet M. A metasynthesis of qualitative studies on casual sexual relationships and experiences . Can J Hum Sex . 2016;25(3):225-242. doi:10.3138/cjhs.253-a6

Haupert ML, Gesselman AN, Moors AC, Fisher HE, Garcia JR. Prevalence of experiences with consensual nonmonogamous relationships: Findings from two national samples of single Americans . J Sex Marital Ther . 2017;43(5):424-440. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2016.1178675

Birditt KS, Newton NJ, Cranford JA, Ryan LH. Stress and negative relationship quality among older couples: Implications for blood pressure . J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci . 2016;71(5):775-85. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbv023

Lavner JA, Bradbury TN.  Why do even satisfied newlyweds eventually go on to divorce? .  J Fam Psychol . 2012;26(1):1-10. doi:10.1037/a00259

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

Home — Essay Samples — Life — Respect — Why Respect Is Important in Fostering Positive Relationships


Why Respect is Important in Fostering Positive Relationships

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Published: Sep 7, 2023

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The importance of respect in personal relationships, the importance of respect in social contexts, applying respect to promote change.

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essay on positive relationship

How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

And setting healthy boundaries is crucial for self-care and positive relationships.

But let’s first understand what boundaries are.

Boundaries differ from person to person and are mediated by variations in culture, personality, and social context. Boundaries appropriate in a business meeting would seem irrelevant in a nightclub with old friends! Setting boundaries defines our expectations of ourselves and others in different kinds of relationships.

Below, we will examine definitions of relationship boundaries, how to set healthy boundaries, the different types of boundaries, and how to establish healthy boundaries in different contexts. We review the New York Times bestseller “ Set Boundaries, Find Peace ”.

In addition, we offer these free Positive Relationships PDF worksheets to help your clients define and set healthy boundaries—essential for healthy relationships.

This Article Contains:

What are boundaries, how to set healthy boundaries, examples of healthy boundaries, personal and emotional boundaries, boundaries in psychology, set boundaries, find peace: a review, 7 healthy boundaries worksheets (pdfs), positive relationship resources, a take-home message.

Let’s define boundaries. Put simply:

“A boundary is a limit or edge that defines you as separate from others”

(Katherine, 2010, p. 14).

Our skin is an obvious physical boundary, but we have other kinds of interpersonal boundaries too, including a limit that extends beyond our body.

Consider what happens when somebody stands too close for comfort. We often describe it as someone invading our personal space, but definitions of personal space vary according to culture, the type of relationship involved, and social context.

Comfortable boundaries with your partner at home, would not be appropriate in a different social context, such as attending a business dinner together.

Similarly, the level of physical intimacy deemed appropriate for expression in public spaces varies wildly across cultures.

When I lived in Sri Lanka, it was customary for children to greet their parents by touching their feet rather than hugging them. Meanwhile, touching, hugging, and kissing between married couples was frowned upon in public.

However, in the UK, hugging and kissing in public is acceptable, and embraces between friends, partners, and family members are deemed appropriate in shared public spaces.

Having said that, we all have friends or family members who are personally uncomfortable with hugging in any situation other than in private with their partner. Each individual is different.

So, in summary, a relationship boundary is an interpersonal limit that is mediated by variations in personality, culture, and social context.

essay on positive relationship

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Setting healthy boundaries requires self-awareness . We need to be clear about our expectations of ourselves and others, and what we are and are not comfortable with in specific situations. Setting healthy boundaries requires good communication skills that convey assertiveness and clarity.

Assertiveness involves expressing your feelings openly and respectfully. It does not entail making demands, but it requires people to listen to you. Setting healthy boundaries requires you to assert your needs and priorities as a form of self-care. Tawwab outlines three easy steps to setting healthy boundaries:

Step 1. Be as clear and as straightforward as possible. Do not raise your voice. Step 2. State your need or request directly in terms of what you’d like, rather than what you don’t want or like. Step 3. Accept any discomfort that arises as a result, whether it’s guilt, shame, or remorse.

The third step is common for people with poor boundaries, codependency issues, or are people pleasers.

Sometimes, adults have been raised by childhood carers who’ve taught them that expressing their needs is bad and selfish. However, not accepting the discomfort that comes from setting healthy boundaries in adulthood means settling for unhealthy relationships that can cause resentment, manipulation, and abuse.

essay on positive relationship

Examples of healthy boundaries include:

  • Declining anything you don’t want to do
  • Expressing your feelings responsibly
  • Talking about your experiences honestly
  • Replying in the moment
  • Addressing problems directly with the person involved, rather than with a third party
  • Making your expectations clear rather than assuming people will figure them out.

Setting healthy boundaries also requires an awareness of different boundaries involved in relationships, as illustrated in our ‘7 Types of Boundaries’ diagram below.

Boundary Types

In this section, we will look at personal and emotional boundaries. In the diagram above, personal boundaries refer to all seven types of boundaries that affect our personal wellbeing.

When we maintain healthy boundaries in all seven domains we will thrive, but when others cross or violate our boundaries, there will be a personal cost if we do not address it.

One domain refers to emotional boundaries which determine how emotionally available you are to other people. We all need support at different times when life hits us with unexpected events, or just help to process the onslaught of micro stressors during the day, sometimes referred to as ‘daily hassles’ in the psychology literature (Falconier et al., 2015).

However, we can’t always be there for people as we often have other priorities to attend to, such as work, domestic, and family responsibilities. As adults, we must take care of ourselves first. Self-care is the foundation of health, while putting others’ needs before our own is a characteristic of codependency that can lead to burnout .

When we don’t maintain healthy emotional boundaries with others, we may feel resentful, guilty, and drained.

As in the 7 Types of Boundaries diagram above, it is perfectly OK to state your limitations to people who make demands of your emotional resources. If they push back against your boundaries or continue to violate them, then this shows your relationship may be off balance, problematic, or even toxic.

essay on positive relationship

When we are dealing with people who repeatedly cross or violate our personal boundaries, then the whole nature of the relationship may need to change. This can be tricky when the relationship is with somebody we cannot escape, such as co-workers and family members.

The rest of the article focuses on how to set healthy boundaries in specific relationship contexts.

healthy boundaries self care

There is extensive literature on the harms caused by poor boundaries and boundary violations in clinical relationships with patients and clients (Aiyegbusi & Kelly, 2012; Aravind, Krishnaram & Thasneem, 2012; Davies, 2007).

The APA’s psychologists’ code of ethics does not make any explicit statements about professional boundaries, although it covers related areas including:

  • multiple relationships (such as offering therapy to a student or friend),
  • sexual intimacies with current therapy clients/patients;
  • sexual intimacies with relatives or significant others of current therapy clients/patients;
  • therapy with former sexual partners; and
  • sexual intimacies with former therapy clients/patients (American Psychological Association, 2017).

Similarly, the BPS has no explicit statement on boundaries in their code of ethics for British psychologists and associated clinical professions, but outlines key principles including confidentiality and the related code of conduct (British Psychological Society, 2021).

Meanwhile, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy ( BACP ) has a detailed position statement on boundaries which begins as follows:

“It is a therapist’s duty to keep their clients psychologically safe. Boundaries are agreed limits or rules which help provide this safety and protect both the client and the therapist. They set a formal structure, purpose and standards for the therapy and the therapeutic relationship” (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 2020, para. 3).

Health professionals of all kinds occupy a position of trust in their patients’ and clients’ lives. In legal terms, clinical and caring professionals have a fiduciary duty toward their clients as beneficiaries of their services that entails maintaining professional boundaries that protect the client’s interests above their own, at all times (Aravind, Krishnaram & Thasneem, 2012).

Setting boundaries at work

Maintaining healthy boundaries at work has become increasingly difficult with flexible working, remote and hybrid working, and technological progress.

Setting boundaries at work begins during the interview process, where you can establish what kinds of work practices you will accept, especially accessibility during working hours, out-of-hours working, and remote working arrangements.

Career Contessa offers eight tips for establishing healthy boundaries in the workplace.

  • Assess your personal boundaries first. These will be determined by your values and priorities. If you are not clear about your boundaries, then it’s much easier for others to cross them or violate them, leading to discomfort, stress, and even resentment.
  • Communicate directly. Be upfront yet professional. Avoid getting involved in discussing your colleagues with each other. Let people know when you are available and how you handle emails that arrive in your inbox outside work hours.
  • Create clear structures for your work, especially times for focused work, by letting your colleagues know when you do not want to be disturbed.
  • Keep your relationships professional. As tempting as it may be to become best friends with colleagues, it can lead to blurred boundaries and problems later on.
  • Delegate work when appropriate to manage your workload.
  • Get comfortable saying no.
  • Take time off.
  • Use technology to set and maintain work boundaries, by keeping others informed and using shareable project management tools, such as Trello or Asana.

Watch their video below for more detail.

If you find yourself in a workplace where your boundaries are repeatedly crossed or violated despite setting boundaries, then you may be being bullied or harassed. Look at this article on workplace bullying on how to manage and address the situation.

Healthy boundaries in friendships

The tips for keeping healthy boundaries in friendships include some points mentioned above, especially understanding your personal limits in terms of time and emotional investment.

These can also change as life events occur that entail a shift in priorities. For example, the time and energy you invest in friendships may change after starting a family. Your children become a priority and friendships may become less important until your children become more independent.

In the TED Talk below, Shasta Nelson describes the three requirements for healthy friendships that she calls ‘frientimacy’ as:

  • Consistency
  • Vulnerability

Setting boundaries and maintaining them with friends requires mutual trust and respect. Refer to our seven types of boundaries diagram above to consider your boundaries in friendships.

Boundary setting with friends who have crossed or violated them can be difficult, and you may experience pushback. If so, reassert the boundary again and be prepared to take a break from them by ignoring messages and calls for a while if the pushback continues.

Dr. Nicole LePera is a clinical psychologist trained at Cornell University in the US who has her own YouTube channel called the Holistic Psychologist. In the video below, she outlines the three key boundaries she has identified as essential for healthy friendships:

  • Conversational
  • Consumption

Boundaries in relationships

This section will take a brief look at boundaries in intimate relationships between partners. Many of the tips offered above also apply to intimate partnerships, including marriage. Let’s just take a moment to consider this quote:

“Boundaries are the gateway to healthy relationships.”

(Tawwab, 2021, p. 3)

Romantic relationships often run into trouble when implicit assumptions are made about shared values and relationship goals.

The key to having healthy intimate partnerships is clear communication between partners about mutual needs and expectations. Our worksheets below will provide further guidance.

This video by FlexTalk discusses how to set and maintain healthy boundaries in marriage, which also applies to any committed intimate partnership.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace

If you struggle with setting boundaries, then this book is for you. It prioritizes the self-care we need to look after ourselves and others.

The author uses real-life case histories from her therapeutic practice to illustrate a range of problems caused by poor boundaries.

In each chapter, she offers exercises to help readers identify communication skills deficits that lead to poor boundaries and provides helpful tips on how to set and maintain boundaries.

By setting boundaries in relationships, we also discover which relationships are healthy and which are not. As Tawwab explains, if friends, family members, or work colleagues push back against our boundaries by ignoring them, challenging them, or cutting us off, then the relationship was already in deep trouble and needed to end.

However, boundaries are not walls. Tawwab says that behavior that erects walls, such as cutting people off without giving them a right to reply, (sometimes called ghosting) or prolonged silent treatment, is not about setting healthy boundaries, it is emotionally abusive.

Part two is a guide on how to set boundaries in all kinds of relationships, including family, romantic relationships, friendships, at work, and with social media and technology use. This is all followed up by a self-assessment quiz to help you check your progress.

Find the book on Amazon .

To assist your clients in determining their boundaries, and then be comfortable in asserting them, make use of this selection of helpful resources.

1. Visualizing Your Boundaries

The worksheet Visualizing Your Boundaries helps your client identify life areas needing firmer boundaries.

2. The Personal Boundary Continuum – A Self-Reflection Tool

The Personal Boundary Continuum  exercise helps your client define their boundaries in different life domains, and understand which areas of life may need more flexibility or firmer boundaries.

3. How to Set Boundaries – Saying No

This Saying No worksheet offers tips on how to set boundaries using the word ‘no’.

4. How to Set Boundaries – Stating What You Want

This State What You Want worksheet offers tips on how to set boundaries by stating what you want.

5. Group Boundary Setting Exercise

This Group Boundary Setting  worksheet describes a group exercise that uses body language and speech to set and maintain boundaries.

6. Dealing With Boundary Violations

Dealing With Boundary Violations  presents eight steps for dealing with boundary violations, especially when we are setting new boundaries in difficult situations.

7. Setting Internal Boundaries

The Setting Internal Boundaries worksheet helps you set internal boundaries by committing to the behavior you want to embrace (e.g., taking regular exercise, keeping a journal) and avoiding behavior that leaves you feeling uncomfortable (e.g., getting drunk with friends, yelling at your partner).

essay on positive relationship

17 Exercises for Positive, Fulfilling Relationships

Empower others with the skills to cultivate fulfilling, rewarding relationships and enhance their social wellbeing with these 17 Positive Relationships Exercises [PDF].

Created by experts. 100% Science-based. has several other relationship articles with resources you may find useful. Click on the links below for more.

  • Building Healthy Relationships: Helpful Worksheets
  • The Importance of Positive Relationships in the Workplace
  • Conflict Resolution in Relationships & Couples: 5 Strategies
  • Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace
  • Emotional Intelligence in Relationships (+Activities for Couples)

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others build healthy relationships, this collection contains 17 validated positive relationships tools for practitioners. Use them to help others form healthier, more nurturing, and life-enriching relationships.

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential life skill and an important self-care practice. Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships.

While someone who’s not used to setting boundaries might feel guilty or selfish when they first start, setting boundaries is necessary for mental health and wellbeing.

Appropriate boundaries can look very different depending on the setting, but it’s important to set them in all areas of life where we interact with others.

Finally, while setting boundaries is crucial, it is just as important to respect others’ boundaries, including parents, children, romantic partners, managers, coworkers, and anyone else we interact with.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free .

  • Aiyegbusi, A. & Kelly, G. (2012). Professional and therapeutic boundaries in forensic mental health practice . Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017). Retrieved on 28 Oct 2022 from
  • Aravind, V. K., Krishnaram, V. D., & Thasneem, Z. (2012). Boundary crossings and violations in clinical settings. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine , 34(1):21-4.
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. (2020). What do counsellors and psychotherapists mean by boundaries – Client information sheet . Retrieved on 28 Oct 2022 from
  • British Psychological Society. (2021). BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct . Retrieved on 28 Oct 2022, from
  • Davies, M. (2007). Boundaries in counselling and psychotherapy . Athena Press.
  • Falconier, M. K., Nussbeck, F., Bodenmann, G., Schneider, H., & Bradbury, T. (2015). Stress from daily hassles in couples: Its effects on intradyadic stress, relationship satisfaction, and physical and psychological well-being. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy , 41, 221– 235.
  • Katherine, A. (2010). Boundaries: Where you end and I begin . Hazelden Publishing.
  • Tawwab, N. G. (2021). Set boundaries, find peace: A guide to reclaiming yourself . Little, Brown Book Group.

essay on positive relationship

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Leusa Jones

This article addressed something that I was wondering about.I found the article very helpful and to the point. It was refreshing,and I feel like I can share this newfound knowledge with different people in my life,

Jarrod Boyle

I just wanted to thank you for a comprehensive but easy to understand article on the subject. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Carolina Rodriguez

El articulo esta genial!!! esta claro consiso e informativo, me gustaria saber para referenciar la imfg de los 7 tipos de limites la autora es la misma del articulo?

Julia Poernbacher

Hola Carolina,

nos alegra saber que has disfrutado tanto del artículo. No, el autor es independiente del diseño de las imágenes. ¡Tenemos nuestro propio diseñador gráfico que crea estas increíbles imágenes!

Un cordial saludo, Julia | Community Manager

David Daniels

Are these worksheets free to use in other settings?

Maria Corcoran Tindill

Thank you, Jo, for this insightful, article written simply and with such clarity (not an easy thing to do). I’ll be drawing on it in a piece of work I’m doing with a group of women who have great demands on them and who themselves are dealing with a lot of trauma in their lives. Boundaries and maintaining them keep cropping up. So over the next few weeks we are giving space to working through this and learning to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Your Positive Relationship Resources will be invaluable. You’re very generous in providing these freely here. I will acknowledge your work over the weeks. With gratitude. Marie

Jan Whitley

I find this article very interesting and educational because I think everyone of us has set boundaries because people can take advantage of one another by not accepting “no” for an answer.


I didn’t receive the 3 positive healthy worksheets

Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

Hi Shaheen,

Please check your inbox for the three free PDFs. If you cannot find them, be sure to also check your spam/promotions folder, or perhaps try with an alternative email address.

Let me know if you’re still having trouble after this.

– Nicole | Community Manager


Great article! I needed to be reminded of the importance in setting clear boundaries; Especially in declaring them at the start of new relationship or at the beginning of a daunting task or circumstance.

This article also serves well as a course worthy of being taught to both adults & youth, maybe even as young as middle school!!

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3 Positive Relationships Exercises Pack


Essay on Healthy Relationships

Students are often asked to write an essay on Healthy Relationships in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Healthy Relationships

What is a healthy relationship.

A healthy relationship is like a good friendship. It is when two people spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. They respect each other, listen to each other, and understand each other’s needs. They support each other in good and bad times. A healthy relationship is full of love, trust, and happiness.

Importance of Communication

Talking and listening are important in a healthy relationship. It helps people understand each other better. They can share their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Good communication also helps to solve problems and avoid misunderstandings.

Trust and Honesty

Trust and honesty are key in a healthy relationship. Trust means believing in the other person. Honesty means telling the truth. Both help to build a strong and loving relationship. They make people feel safe and comfortable with each other.

Respect and Boundaries

Respect is treating others the way you want to be treated. It is about valuing the other person’s feelings, thoughts, and choices. Boundaries are also important. They are rules that help people feel safe and comfortable. They protect people’s personal space and freedom.

Dealing with Conflicts

Conflicts can happen in any relationship. But in a healthy relationship, people handle conflicts in a positive way. They listen to each other, understand the problem, and find a solution together. They do not hurt each other’s feelings or make each other feel bad.

250 Words Essay on Healthy Relationships

A healthy relationship is a bond between two or more people. It is filled with respect, trust, honesty, and good communication. In such relationships, people feel safe and happy. They enjoy spending time together and support each other in good and bad times.

Key Features

There are some important features of a healthy relationship. These include open communication, respect, trust, and equality. Open communication means that people talk freely about their feelings. Respect means that they value each other’s opinions and feelings. Trust means that they believe in each other. Equality means that they treat each other as equals.

Why are Healthy Relationships Important?

Healthy relationships are important for our well-being. They make us feel happy and secure. They also help us grow as individuals. In a healthy relationship, we learn to trust and respect others. We also learn to communicate our feelings in a better way.

How to Build Healthy Relationships?

Building a healthy relationship takes effort. It starts with respect and trust. We should respect each other’s feelings and trust each other. We should also communicate openly. If there is a problem, we should talk about it and find a solution together. We should also spend quality time together. This helps to strengthen the bond.

In conclusion, a healthy relationship is a beautiful bond. It is filled with respect, trust, and good communication. It makes us feel happy and secure. It helps us grow as individuals. To build a healthy relationship, we should respect, trust, and communicate openly with each other.

500 Words Essay on Healthy Relationships

A healthy relationship is like a good friendship. It is filled with respect, trust, honesty, and good communication. In a healthy relationship, both people feel good about each other and about themselves.

Signs of a Healthy Relationship

There are many signs of a healthy relationship. One of the most important is respect. This means that each person values the other and understands and respects their rights.

Another sign is trust. Trust is like a strong rope that holds the relationship together. If there is trust, each person feels secure and safe.

Good communication is also a sign of a healthy relationship. It’s like a bridge that connects two people. With good communication, both people can express their feelings and thoughts openly and honestly.

Importance of a Healthy Relationship

Healthy relationships are very important for our happiness and well-being. They give us a sense of belonging and help us feel loved and valued. They also provide support when we face challenges or problems.

Moreover, healthy relationships teach us important life skills. They help us learn how to respect others, how to trust, and how to communicate effectively. These skills are very helpful in all areas of our life.

Building a Healthy Relationship

Building a healthy relationship is like planting a seed and taking care of it so it can grow into a strong tree. It takes time, effort, and patience.

The first step is to build respect. This can be done by treating the other person with kindness, listening to them, and valuing their opinions.

The second step is to build trust. This can be done by being honest, reliable, and keeping promises.

The third step is to build good communication. This can be done by talking openly about feelings and thoughts, listening carefully, and trying to understand the other person’s point of view.

In conclusion, a healthy relationship is a valuable part of our lives. It is built on respect, trust, and good communication. It brings us joy and helps us grow as individuals. Building a healthy relationship takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. Remember, everyone deserves to be in a healthy and happy relationship.

This essay is a simple guide to understanding the concept of healthy relationships. It is important to remember that each relationship is unique and may require different approaches. But the basic principles of respect, trust, and communication always remain the same.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

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Positive Relationships in the Working Place Research Paper

Introduction, literature review, summary and conclusions, reference list.

It has been acknowledged that positive relationships at work contribute to enhanced employees’ performance and, as a result, the successful development of the organization. Although all people are different, they all need communication and social ties. It is especially important at the workplace where employees are often overloaded with projects, they are often stressed, and burnout is common. The proper working atmosphere can diminish the impact of these negative trends.

To develop a friendly and operational atmosphere at work, there should be a number of criteria. Researchers identify different criteria that have the most effect on relationships at work. This paper dwells upon major criteria that should be in place to develop proper relationships in the working place. Personal experience is also applied to analyze the effectiveness of the criteria outlined by researchers.

As has been mentioned above, researchers tend to prioritize such criteria differently. For instance, Pravamayee (2014, p. 58) emphasizes that “healthy working relationships” can be developed if there is trust, mutual respect, mindfulness, welcoming diversity, open communication, and cooperation. At that, the researcher states that trust is the most important criterion as it enables employees to develop the necessary social ties. Mutual respect is also very important, as employees should value the ideas of others. As defined by Pravamayee (2014), mindfulness is the ability to take responsibility for one’s behavior and words, which is important for the development of trust and respect.

Manion (2012) also notes that trust is one of the most important criteria that contribute to the development of a friendly atmosphere in the workplace. The researcher also points out such essential criteria as respect, support, and effective communication. Clearly, communication and cooperation are crucial, as these are particular tools to create bonds and reveal respect, support, mindfulness.

Venkataramani, Labianca & Grosser (2013) pay more attention to social ties and notes that the development of positive ties is beneficial while the existence of negative ties can have detrimental effects leading to burnout, lack of motivation, and even increased turnover. It is noteworthy that negative ties that are associated with avoidance and mistrust do not have a significant negative impact if there are many positive ties. In other words, if an employee has a sufficient number of positive ties, he/she will be able to handle certain negative ties. Of course, it could be beneficial for the organization if employees developed proper relationships with each other.

Eschleman, Madsen, Alarcon, and Barelka (2014) identify another important criteria that can contribute to the creation of a friendly atmosphere in the working place. Creative work can help employees develop positive relationships at work. Eschleman et al. (2014) state that creative projects can be regarded as a tool to diminish burnout, increase motivation, improve communication, and the overall atmosphere in the working place.

It is necessary to note that all the criteria mentioned above are very important for the development of a positive atmosphere at work. According to my personal experience, these criteria are essential. At the same time, some researchers undermine the effects of certain criteria. First, it is necessary to note that trust is the primary criterion that affects the development of positive relationships at work. At my workplace, I have understood that trust makes people more cooperative and positive. When I was a newcomer, it was quite difficult to work on projects with employees who had worked there for a while.

Of course, within a certain period, I managed to become an effective member of the team and develop positive ties with my colleagues. Later, when I started working with newcomers, I understood that certain difficulties at the initial stage could be explained by the lack of trust. It is difficult to work with a person you cannot rely on, and you cannot rely on a person of you barely know him/her. We have always worked on quite serious and important projects in rather limited timespans. There could be no mistakes, and we simply could not give newcomers some crucial tasks that could undermine the success of the entire project.

Mindfulness, which is mentioned by Pravamayee (2014), is also very important for me personally, as it is one of the criteria for the development of trust and mutual respect. There was a person who was not mindful, and she did not take responsibility for her own words or actions. Clearly, it was almost impossible to rely on such a person and I could not trust her. I would say that I developed negative ties with this person and I tried to avoid her. Luckily, I did not need to work on the same projects with her and, hence, my negative ties did not affect my work or the atmosphere in the working place.

However, I still cannot agree with Venkataramani et al. (2013), who state that a significant number of positive ties can ‘neutralize’ effects of negative ties. I had a colleague who was focused on his own goals (rather than the goals of the company). I did not have to work on the same projects with him, but I had to address to him for certain information. Our collaboration was not very close, but we communicated quite often. Each communication session was quite hard and unpleasant. Avoidance and mistrust were characteristic features of our collaboration. During the periods of significant workload, I felt unmotivated, distressed, overwhelmed by fatigue.

There were times when I thought of quitting the job. At the same time, the rest of my social ties were positive and I loved working with my colleagues. It turns out that even if there is only one negative tie and the rest of the employee’s ties are positive, the employee can develop symptoms of burnout. My problem was solved when our communication stopped due to his transfer to another department.

I would also like to note that creative work is very important and Eschleman et al. (2014) provide helpful insights into its use at work. For instance, creative work helped me integrate into the team. We all participated in a charity project and we had to complete certain creative work. We worked in the team and we managed to develop proper communication channels with each other. I was a newcomer and no one knew me to trust or respect me. However, the creative project helped me reveal my mindfulness and professionalism as well as my desire to work in the team effectively.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that such criteria as trust, respect, mindfulness, effective communication and cooperation, as well as positive ties and creative work, are crucial for the development of positive relationships at work. Of course, each individual values these criteria differently, as there can be different settings. However, for me, they are essential though I also think that negative ties can significantly undermine the development of appropriate relationships at work.

Eschleman, K.J., Madsen, J., Alarcon, G., & Barelka, A. (2014). Benefiting from creative activity: The positive relationships between creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology , 87 , 579-598. Web.

Manion, J. (2012). Building a healthy workplace? Start with the foundation of positive working relationships. MedSurg Matters , 21 (2), 4-5. Web.

Pravamayee, S. (2014). Strategy to develop an effective workplace environment. International Journal of Language & Linguistics , 1 (1), 57-61. Web.

Venkataramani, V., Labianca, G.J., & Grosser, T. (2013). Positive and negative workplace relationships, social satisfaction, and organizational attachment. Journal of Applied Psychology , 98 (6), 1028-1039. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 16). Positive Relationships in the Working Place.

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IvyPanda . "Positive Relationships in the Working Place." May 16, 2020.

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

Response: Why It’s Important to Build Positive Relationships With Students

essay on positive relationship

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(This is the first post in a seven-part series)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What are the best ways to build relationships with students?

The research is clear that having positive relationships between students and teachers are critical to the learning process - and that reflects most teachers’ experience. I know, for example, that the best classroom management advice I ever read was from Marvin Marshall, who wrote that before we deal with any kind of discipline issue we should reflect on one thing: Will what we plan to do bring us closer together or push us apart? This question, of course, does not mean we have to shy away from hard discussions.

This topic will be covered in a seven-part series. With that many contributors, I don’t have much to add to the discussion. However, I would encourage readers to explore two resources:

Previous posts that have appeared here on this issue can be found at Relationships in Schools .

I’ve collected additional materials, including related research, at The Best Resources On The Importance of Building Positive Relationships With Students .

Part One in this series is kicked-off with responses from Adeyemi Stembridge, Candace Hines, Jacki Glasper, Mary Beth Nicklaus, Valentina Gonzalez, and Julie Jee. You can listen to a 10-minute conversation I had with Adeyemi, Candace, Jacki and Mary Beth on my BAM! Radio Show . You can find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.

Response From Adeyemi Stembridge

Adeyemi Stembridge, PhD provides technical assistance for school improvement with a specific focus on equity. He works with districts around the country to identify root causes of achievement gaps and formulate pedagogy- and policy-based efforts to redress the underperformance of vulnerable student populations. Follow him on Twitter at @DrYemiS:

Equity can’t be said to be possible without the element of connection, and the connection that students feel to teachers and school spaces is an enormously important factor in our efforts to close the racial-/ethnic and class-based performance and achievement gaps that persist in American schools. Relationships matter because when students see themselves as connected to the learning community, they are much more likely to engage and self-regulate appropriately (Caprariello and Reis, 2014) which, by extension, means that they are more likely to feel connected to the content and concepts taught in school. Positive relationships reduce defensiveness toward failure and play a pivotal role in whether students view school as responsive to their needs.

Positive relationships are also conduits to identity. Where one is in relationship, one is more likely to feel validated and affirmed through connections to the people in the spaces where these relationships occur. When one feels in connection to the people and spaces, one begins to identify with them in terms of values, ethic, and beliefs. Where one identifies in these ways, one develops a sense of identity themselves, cognitively and emotionally; and where one has a sense of identity, one is most willing to invest themselves, thus maximizing the likelihood for success. As such, the purpose of relationships with students is always a function of a higher cause -and that is ultimately to support each student’s authentic relationship with learning. Here I briefly describe three strategies that can be scaled developmentally and also in terms of content.

Strategies to Support Relationships

Beyond merely helping students to improve in the mechanics and conventions of writing, one-to-one and small group Student Conferencing is a profound space for supporting students in finding their voice. To see oneself as a writer is liberating, and the coaching students receive in Student Conferencing can lead to insights that confirm the value of the students’ investment in their own growth. The most important thing to remember here is to not try to cover an entire piece in any one conference. Rather, focus in on some paragraph or even a sentence that the student agrees is especially significant in the overall purpose of the piece. Conferencing is less about mechanics and more about meaning. A favorite question of mine to ask in conferencing is: “What do you most want your reader to understand?” And then, “What is a key word(s) (or sentence) that we can build around to best communicate that most-important understanding?”

Reflection is an essential component of relationships because it is in the replaying of experiences that we arrive at shared understandings of the significance of our feelings. When students learn to effectively communicate what they are feeling, they gain an agency in their own learning that heightens their sense of academic identity. Their sense of agency makes it clearer how their choices contribute to their learning outcomes. I love these 40 Reflection Questions because they are categorized as backward-looking, forward-looking, inward looking, and outward looking. I’ve found that some of the richest reflections are uncovered through the use of video. There are several platforms that allow students to upload short reflection videos and share them with their teachers and other students. Many authentic relationships are forged when students have the opportunity to share with their teachers specifically what they were thinking and how they were able to leverage their agency in the interests of their learning; and a palpable sense of community is formed through opportunities to learn together, struggle together, and reflect together.

Assessments can also be fantastic opportunities to build relationships. The “Interview You” assessment asks students to document themselves - either in writing or on screen - asking and answering questions about what they have come to understand in the learning process. Both the design of the questions as well as the responses students provide are an exercise in critical thinking. The “Interview You” technique is a fun way to highlight students’ voice while determining the breadth and depth of their understandings.

With each of these strategies, it is essential to find an opportunity to coordinate a safe space where the teacher and student can think carefully together about the text(s) the student is creating. The best ways to build relationships are through efforts that convey a trustworthy sense of connection and understanding. When students feel validated in caring environments, they are better managers of their own engagement (behavioral, affective, and cognitive) and much more invested in their academic identities. These are necessary to support resilience and the behaviors associated with high performance in school.


Reis, H. T. (2014). Responsiveness: Affective interdependence in close relationships. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Nature and development of social connections: From brain to group (pp. 255-271). Washington, D. C.: APA Press.

essay on positive relationship

Response From Candace Hines

Candace Hines is an Elementary Educator and a Regional Presenter, training teachers across various districts in Tennessee. She also serves as a Collaborative for Student Success - Teacher Champion Fellow, and a Hope Street GroupTennessee Teacher Fellow ; engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues:

4 Quick Tips for Building Positive Relationships with Students

Do we focus enough on teaching new teachers about relationships with students or just instruction? Education specialist, James Comer said, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” (lecture, 1995). Staying up late to review curriculum and craft lessons, and then arriving at school early to set up is an equation that can sometimes equal investing less time into strategically fostering quality relationships with students. Consider these tips for improving connections and building positive relationships with students:

1. Freely make mistakes

“It’s okay, grownups make mistakes, too”. I will never forget staring into the shocked face of a Kindergartner and hearing her shaky voice reply, “They do?” Almost every student perked up in anticipation of my response. I was appalled by the number of students that were unaware that adults could be wrong. What we fail to consider is that always appearing to be perfect can be detrimental to our young learners. If our students never see us make mistakes; gracefully remaining flexible, they could develop an unhealthy view of success. They may also struggle with self-perception and constructive criticism.

2. Listen with your heart

Wow, I’ve been wondering what was going on with them! How did you get them to tell you that? These are statements that over the years, regardless of the setting, I have heard from inquiring adults. From parents, to counselors, to my fellow educators, I am often asked how I do it. I know I am not the only adult that knows what it’s like to have children randomly open up to you. However, because it has frequently occurred, I have had to ask myself why. After pondering my encounters, I realize that they all have one thing in common. Listening. No matter what is happening - lunch, recess, bus rides, dismissal, restroom breaks - I listen to my students with compassion.The dynamic between my students and I is one based on mutual trust, which helps me reach and teach them.

3. Foster intentional connections

I am very fortunate to have experience teaching in diverse learning environments. No matter the student, each one benefits from having positive relationships with educators and vice versa. Some may say that forming relationships should be organic. I beg to differ. It has been my experience that cultivating relationships should be intentional. As a tool, Trauma Informed PBS suggests that as educators we develop the 3-2-1 formula as a relationship building strategy. To implement this strategy, we must: Find out 3 things about the student, 2 interesting or unique things about the student and 1 question you still have about them.

4. Cultivate meaningful greetings

On the last day of school I was told by the parent of my most challenging student that she appreciated that I always verbalized and practiced, “Every day is a new day”. I intentionally greet my students with open arms and a smile each day. When necessary, before students enter the room, I mention to them that no matter what they have done, the previous day is over and “today” is a new start. I was pleasurably surprised when I read Dr. Justin Tarte explaining that his “most memorable teachers took the time to chat ... and gave him a clean slate the next day”. This warms my heart and inspires me to continue this practice. When speaking on this issue, fellow educator, Adam Faulkner believes that “Grace cultivates growth, it goes a long way in building trust between the student and teacher”.

essay on positive relationship

Response From Jacki Glasper

Jacki Glasper has a 14-year background in education and has spent the majority of that time in the special education field. She has worked in all grade levels and has a passion for inclusive education that provides equitable outcomes for students. She has a Masters of Arts in Education and is currently a training specialist for Social & Emotional Learning in the Sacramento City Unified School District:

Culturally Responsive Ways to Build Relationships with Students

Relationships are the precursor to learning. It is something that I have believed since I began teaching 14 years ago. Initially, I developed relationships with students as part of my classroom management so that students would behave and allow me to teach.

As I grew as an educator, I realized that when my students liked and trusted me, they pushed themselves in their learning. In studying the pedagogy of culturally responsive teaching, I have learned that relationships have a direct impact on the brain and that without them learning can be difficult - especially for students that do not represent the dominant culture. By building relationships with students, we can leverage oxytocin in their brains to help them get into a relaxed and receptive state. This helps students access their prefrontal cortex and do higher order thinking and learning. Below are a few ways that you can be intentionally culturally responsive while developing relationships with students:

Be Reflective of Your Mindset . Mindset is deeply influenced by our own cultural upbringings and directly impacts the engagement and learning of students because it influences the relationships that we are able to build with students. Reflect on how your cultural upbringing and experiences have influenced the way that you have designed your classroom and the expectations that you have set for students of varying cultural backgrounds. What was the neighborhood like that you grew up in? How did you feel growing up there? Do your instructional practices reflect your own cultural upbringing and make you feel safe or do they reflect your students and make them feel safe? What types of behaviors trigger you to have negative or positive responses?

  • Make is Social. By organizing learning so that students rely on each other, we not only help to develop and maintain a safe and trusting learning environment, but we also build on diverse students’ communal orientation. The brain is a social organ that works and learns best when it has the opportunity to connect and interact with others. Creating social interactions in learning increases a student’s level of attention and engagement. Learning can be made more social by playing games or having community circles. Another great strategy is the 30/10/90 Process and Connect strategy - every 30 minutes, create opportunities for students to move at least 10 feet, and take 90 seconds to verbally process the learning with a peer.

James Comer could not have said it better when he said, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” Building relationships is as important, if not more important, than the content that we teach. We should not underestimate the power of relationships in education.

Much of the inspiration for this article comes from Zaretta Hammond’s book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.

essay on positive relationship

Response From Mary Beth Nicklaus

Mary Beth Nicklaus enjoys inspiring vulnerable teens to become enthusiastic life-long readers, writers and learners. She is currently a secondary level school teacher and literacy specialist with Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin:

Relationships with students occur inside and outside of your classroom. They grow from planned moments where you are engaged with your students in projects and activities. They blossom when you are observing and making mental notes of what is important to individual students and using it later to connect with them. Building relationships opens pathways to learning in our classroom mainly because it strengthens levels of trust.

Here are four ways to invest in student relationships:

1. Begin before students even get through the door. Stationing yourself outside the room instead of at the doorway creates all kinds of opportunities for interactions. You can observe students’ social lives as they navigate the halls and you can learn who their friends are and what they’re about in their social circles. Learning who students’ friends are and acknowledging their friends can be powerful. Greeting them as they pass your room to go to other classes or conversing with them as they are coming into your class is yet another deposit in the relationship account.

2. Consider using conferencing in your classroom. Use this as a time to ask students questions regarding how they feel about their progress in your class. Check in on how they are doing with their projects or assignments. Ask them about themselves and their opinions and record their answers. Take inventory on the different ways you can use one on one with students throughout the month in order to strengthen the teacher/student bond.

3. Create contact outside of the classroom. During one of your lunch periods, or lunch duty, greet or compliment students in front of their friends in the cafeteria. (Be sensitive about those who may be embarrassed by the attention.) Attend games or band, choral, or drama performances. If you can’t attend pay attention to the announcements or ask about scores and other information that you may be able to comment on during class. Show students you are interested in their lives outside of the classroom.

4. Read or tell stories. Students love to hear that you are a real live person outside of the classroom. They like to hear stories about your children, spouse or pets and other interests. They even like to hear about the meals you make for supper. They especially enjoy it if you ask them to talk or write about a time when... Reading stories or pieces of articles relevant to what you are teaching can have a similar effect in building students’ relationships with you.

Remember that every time you show students you like them and care about them, you foster communication and self-efficacy in their lives in and out of your classroom. Students will also form stronger relationships with each other. As they feel strengthened and respected in your interactions with them, they are likely to grow in respect for their peers, as well. A classroom where students care about each other is fertile ground for learning in all areas.

essay on positive relationship

Response From Valentina Gonzalez

Valentina Gonzalez is currently a Professional Development Specialist for ELLs in Texas. She works with teachers of English learners to support language and literacy instruction. In addition to presenting, she writes a monthly blog for MiddleWeb focused on supporting ELs. She can be reached through her website or on Twitter @ValentinaESL :

Relationships are the cornerstone of all that we do with the people we interact with. The relationship we have with one another can make or break the outcome we are trying to reach. If our goal is to take our students from where they are academically and grow them at least a year, then the relationship we have with each one of them plays a critical role in the outcome of that reality. Will we be able to achieve success? Will they grow?

If we want success, investing in a relationship will have to come first. And it’s not hard, it just takes effort.

Getting to know each student individually as a person helps more than we will ever be able to measure. This type of knowledge of our students goes beyond the permanent record folder. When kids know that we are interested in them as people, they begin to care about the work that we do in school. There are a few specific times during the school day that are conducive to one on one student to teacher conversation.

  • Greet students at the door

One way very easy and simple way to show we care is by greeting students at the door. This time together is super important because it sets the tone for the class period. A smile and, “Hello, how are you?” goes a long way. Kind eyes and, “Are you okay?” can mean a lot to a child who’s had a rough morning. For some of our kids, our classrooms and schools are the happiest places or safest places they come to each day. We don’t know what they are carrying in with them from the morning, but we do know that our first contact with them as they walk in can change the trajectory of the day. Saying their name, making a positive comment to them, greeting them at the door and acknowledging their presence can be the catalyst that changes the way they perceive the instruction for the remainder of the class period.

  • Know their name

Names are part of our identity. Taking the time to know how our students want to be called and pronouncing names correctly let’s students know that we value their identity. That may mean asking students what their name is and asking them multiple times how to pronounce it. I like to write the pronunciation next to their name on my roll call that way I can practice saying it correctly. I tell students in advance that I’m learning, so please tell me if I say it wrong. I never want a student to feel like they have to change their name for my sake. Their name was given to them by their parents and has meaning. I work hard to value that.

  • Build a community

One of the most basic needs is to feel valued and a part of something. Students want to feel like they are part of the classroom community. Creating a safe environment that fosters individuality while at the same time building a cohesive community is key to the success of an academically rich classroom. When students feel valued for who they are but also feel included as part of the group, greater gains are made in growth and learning. Some teachers have achieved this by including students in creating the “rules” for the classroom, having daily or weekly class meetings, practicing daily teacher lead read alouds, and grouping seating so that students are not in rows.

  • Confer with students

Another perfect opportunity to build relationships with students one on one is when kids are reading, writing or working independently. This actually kills two birds with one stone. We build relationships and we can support the content instruction. Conferring with students can send students the message that we care about them, their success and growth, and that we won’t give up on them. While conferring I’ve found that it’s best to listen more than I talk. I ask open ended questions and not just academic but also related to their personal lives. This is when I find out about their passions, goals, family lives and much more.

At the beginning of the year, conferences with students are very casual. Sitting down beside each student while the others are reading or writing and just holding a conversation. Each conversation is different. I might need to ask a student how they would like to be called or how to pronounce their name. With other students, I may want to learn more about their hobbies or what their day looks like when they leave school. As the year progresses, the conferences become more and more academically inclined.

This time together solidifies our relationship and builds a common goal towards achievement, growth and success for each student. It’s a quick. Sometimes only five minutes per child, but it’s powerful.

  • Watch your nonverbals

Often times it’s what we aren’t saying or our body language that speaks volumes to our students. They pick up on a lot more than we think. They crave our presence and attention and they deserve it. A smile and eye contact go a long way. A listening ear and a nod can change a heart.

If they think for a minute that we don’t value their time, they won’t value ours. This is even more true as kids get older in secondary school. Teaching is hard work. But it’s important work and our kids deserve the best. That’s why we do this, right?

Building relationships with students takes time and effort and can happen anywhere! Even in the halls of the building or at recess and lunch break. These time frames are usually more casual and allow for a lower anxiety atmosphere for students. We can use these opportunities to walk around and visit with our students. If they only see us as hallway monitors, disciplinarians, and lecturers, they will not be able to achieve maximum learning potential. It’s just not possible. We have to create an environment where they feel comfortable enough to take risks, spread their creative thoughts, and want to learn. In my mind I see this like a garden. If we provide the rich soil, enough sun light, bountiful water, and plenty of space, our plants and flowers will grow to maximum capacities. But if we forget to add the nutrients, the environment is too dark, it lacks water, and we crowd them then we could stifle their growth.

essay on positive relationship

Response From Julie Jee

Julie Jee has been an English teacher at Arlington High School since 2001. She teaches 12 AP English Literature and Composition and sophomore English at the Regents level. Julie loves to read, run, take photos and spend time with her husband and three children:

Whether it’s through having conversations about sports, reflecting their identities in the literature they read, or starting discussions about future goals and dreams, getting to know your students and having ongoing dialogues with them is so important. Students care about many things, but they don’t often have the opportunity to share. Shifting the focus to students is vital. That builds community. Each student feels noticed. Think about what makes you, you. Personally, I see myself as a teacher, but also as a mother, a wife, a runner, a photographer, a reader and so much more. They live rich lives outside of your classroom. Bring that into your classroom.

In the beginning of the school year, I give my students a survey. Some of the questions are pretty basic, like asking about favorite books or TV shows. Some questions are more personal (Who are your heroes in real life?). The Proust Questionnaire has some great examples. It’s long, but I often ask my students to choose 5-10 questions and answer them at length. Their responses provide a foundation for me to build upon. The student who loves theater might also be a huge Marvel fan. Another student might be experimenting with different artistic mediums. You never know until you give them the opportunity to share.

Acknowledging the reality that adolescence is a stressful time also builds trust. I give my students opportunities to decompress throughout the year. I give my students stress balls and I ask them to write me short notes about how they’re feeling if I notice that they seem overwhelmed or preoccupied. The notes don’t have to be long. Sometimes they take only a minute or two to write. I’ll give them half an index card and ask them to tell me what’s on their mind. They are often stressed out throughout the school year, so small acts of kindness go a long way.

essay on positive relationship

Thanks to Adeyemi, Candace, Jacki, Mary Beth, Valentina, and Julie for their contributions.

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Well-Being and Romantic Relationships: A Systematic Review in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Adolescence and emerging adulthood are both stages in which romantic relationships play a key role in development and can be a source of both well-being and negative outcomes. However, the limited number of studies prior to adulthood, along with the multiplicity of variables involved in the romantic context and the considerable ambiguity surrounding the construct of well-being, make it difficult to reach conclusions about the relationship between the two phenomena. This systematic review synthesizes the results produced into this topic over the last three decades. A total of 112 studies were included, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) guidelines. On the one hand, these works revealed the terminological heterogeneity in research on well-being and the way the absence of symptoms of illness are commonly used to measure it, while on the other hand, they also showed that romantic relationships can be an important source of well-being for both adolescents and emerging adults. The findings underline the importance of providing a better definition of well-being, as well as to attribute greater value to the significance of romantic relationships. Devoting greater empirical, educational, and community efforts to romantic development in the stages leading up to adulthood are considered necessary actions in promoting the well-being of young people.

1. Introduction

Since World War II, most conceptualizations of health have been focused on the absence of illness and disability [ 1 ]. Psychology was concentrated on repairing damage within a disease model of human functioning [ 2 ], paying almost exclusive attention to pathology and neglecting the study of the positive features that make life worth living [ 2 ]. It is currently known that the absence of pathology does not necessarily correlate with positive dimensions of health and well-being [ 3 , 4 ], and psychologists have begun to admit well-being as a relevant aim of study, as well as the factors that contribute to its encouragement [ 5 ]. Positive psychology was recently established as a new perspective specifically addressing the study of well-being, quality of life, strengths, and resources [ 2 , 6 ]. Within this framework, diverse approaches have emerged. In a general sense, well-being can be understood as optimal psychological functioning and experience [ 7 ]. More specifically, some theorists have defined it as a state characterized by a high degree of satisfaction with life and the experience of high levels of positive affect [ 8 ], while others have focused on the notion of a process of fulfilling human potentials, capacities, and virtues [ 7 ]. Despite this systematization of the theory, the diversity of terminology found in the different studies has led to a certain degree of controversy. Although, admittedly, this situation has contributed to a productive scientific debate, it has also led to considerable ambiguity and theoretical and methodological confusion. On the other hand, these approaches represent mainly personal evaluations of what well-being means, and they deal only fleetingly with the social dimension of the individuals involved. In this sense, it has been previously established that the desire for interpersonal attachment (the need to belong) is a fundamental human motivation [ 9 ], especially when it refers to romantic relationships. So important is relatedness that some theorists have defined it as a basic human need, essential for well-being [ 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ]. For example, in their 2002 study, Diener and Seligman examined extremely happy people to determine necessary conditions for entering this group [ 13 ]. They found that good and strong personal relationships were ubiquitous in these people. Nevertheless, the topic of relationships is complex and close relationships are multifaceted, justifying with this a study of specificity, in terms of the aspects of relationships that can promote well-being [ 7 ].

1.1. Romantic Relationships and Well-Being in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

From an evolutionary point of view, adolescence and emerging adulthood (the periods which span the second and third decades of life [ 14 , 15 ]) have been described as being vitally important in terms of the development of romantic relationships [ 16 , 17 , 18 ]. Defined as “mutually acknowledged ongoing voluntary interactions” [ 18 , 19 ], these relationships, unlike others such as friendships, are characterized by a particular intensity, specific expressions of affection, and initiation in erotic sexual encounters [ 19 ]. Previous studies have shown that these experiences are frequent during adolescence and tend to consolidate over time [ 20 , 21 ], representing an important context for learning and training for future intimate relationships [ 14 ]. By middle adolescence, most boys and girls have been involved in at least one romantic relationship [ 21 ], providing them with a scenario characterized by greater intimacy, support, and importance as their age advances [ 22 , 23 ]. As adolescents approach emerging adulthood, the time they devote to their romantic partners increases [ 24 , 25 ], and they use these relationships to look for company, emotional security, intimacy, and the feeling of love they provide, until they reach a stage when they are ready to take decisions over questions of long-term commitment, such as cohabitation and marriage [ 26 , 27 ]. According to the developmental task theory, during adolescence, romantic involvement is an emerging developmental task, which will eventually become a salient developmental task in adulthood [ 28 ].

Romantic relationships and experiences are important sources of emotional bonding and contribute to the development of a positive self-concept and greater social integration [ 29 , 30 ]. The successful establishment and maintenance of romantic relationships can have important repercussions in later stages of life [ 15 ], and has been described to contribute to people’s mental and physical health and, therefore, to their well-being [ 31 ]. From this perspective, romantic relationships, when sustained over time, constitute a transformation of the attachment bond. The quality of the relationship, the history of the shared experiences, the sense of attachment, and the beliefs which arise from the whole experience have all been recognized as modulating the well-being of the partners [ 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 ]. Despite the fact that the wide range of aspects mentioned in the research makes it difficult to establish how direct an effect these relationships have on well-being, there is a broad consensus in the literature that love is one of the strengths most closely linked to personal happiness [ 41 , 42 ], and is associated with higher rates of self-esteem, safety, satisfaction with life, positive affect, and achievement of personal and relational goals [ 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 ]. However, romantic relationships have also been associated with negative outcomes, especially during adolescence. Thus, studies have suggested that romantic involvement may be related to the presence of different forms of violence [ 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 ], experiencing internalizing symptoms such as depression or anxiety (e.g., [ 37 , 51 , 52 ]), poorer psychosocial functioning [ 53 ], or delinquency [ 54 ].

1.2. The Present Study

Following these considerations, the empirical evidence suggests the important role that romantic relationships can play in people’s well-being, however, the number of studies focusing on stages prior to adulthood remain relatively limited, consequently not providing clarifying results. Moreover, the wide range of intervening variables in the romantic context and the relative ambiguity of the concept of well-being make it difficult to draw conclusions. Therefore, a work of synthesis is required to gather together the accumulated empirical knowledge and facilitate an understanding of the findings made so far in relation to the association between well-being and romantic relationships in adolescence and emerging adulthood. To do this, the general aim of this study was to carry out an exhaustive review of the existing literature in order to delve deeper into this topic. In particular, a specific aim was established: To identify the variables of romantic relationships that studies have associated with the well-being of young people.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. literature search and quality assurance.

A structured search was carried out between July and September 2017 in the following databases of high-quality standards, which include peer-reviewed studies: Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO and Scielo. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) Declaration was applied [ 55 ], following its protocol for the planning, preparation, and publication of systematic reviews and meta-analyses [ 56 ]. The search terms used included keywords in Spanish and English which were considered to be indicators of well-being (bienestar*, well-being*, wellbeing*, “wellbeing”, felicidad*, happiness*, “fortalezas psicológicas”, “psychological strengths”, florecimiento*, flourishing*, “desarrollo positivo”, “positive development”) and keywords linked to romantic relationships (dating*, “relaciones sentimentales”, “sentimental relationships”, “relaciones románticas”, “romantic relationships”, cortejo*, courtship*, “relaciones íntimas”, “intimate relationships”). In order to achieve a comprehensive overview of the state of research in this field, the search did not include any specific terms (e.g., psychological well-being, subjective well-being, hedonia, eudaimonia, hooking up, friends with benefits, etc.).

2.2. Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

The inclusion criteria were established following the PICOS (acronym for Participants, Interventions, Comparisons, Outcomes and Study design) format [ 57 ]:

  • Type of participants: Adolescents and emerging adults of both sexes, ranging in age from 13 to 29 years old, or those whose average age is included in that range, with no known mental disorders, and those of any origin or nationality.
  • Type of studies: Empirical studies written in English or Spanish and published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Type of outcome measurements: In a first stage, studies were included which made explicit reference to the search descriptors in the title, summary, and/or keywords. In a second stage, studies were included with specific analyses of the link between romantic relationships and any of the previous indicators.
  • Type of designs: Quantitative and qualitative.

Additional exclusion criteria included theoretical studies, doctoral theses, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, book chapters, reports from conferences or symposia, letters to the editor, minutes of meetings or informative notes, and studies in which the authors did not provide information about the participants’ age.

2.3. Data Coding and Extraction

Three matrices of documentary records were created specifically for this work. In the first, quantitative data on the search results were collected for each database consulted and each of the descriptors used. In the second, information was gathered from each selected or unselected study (e.g., title, author/s, year of publication, sample size, age of participants, study objectives, methodology, or reason for exclusion, where appropriate). The third recorded the well-being measures and the specific variables of the romantic context analyzed by the studies. The selection of studies was performed in different stages [ 58 ] ( Figure 1 ). The identification stage was limited to articles published in English and Spanish between 1990 and 2017 (inclusive). This first phase yielded a total of 3229 studies. In the screening stage, the duplicates were discarded, which left a total of 2866 studies. Next, two reviewers selected the studies whose title, summary, or keywords contained any of the search descriptors used, which produced a total of 461 eligible studies and a total of 2405 rejected studies. In the eligibility stage, all the reviewers independently assessed the full text of the potential studies to be included, initially reaching a level of agreement of over 90% and resolving any discrepancies through a process of discussion and consensus. In the included stage, the three reviewers jointly agreed on the full sample of studies, resulting in a total of 112 studies. The software packages Mendeley version 1.17.12 (Elsevier Inc., New York, NY, USA) and SPSS version 22 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA) were used to carry out the process of coding and obtaining the results.

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Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) flow diagram.

3.1. Characteristics of the Included Studies

This work has reviewed nearly three decades of research (1990–2017) on well-being and romantic relationships during adolescence and emerging adulthood. Of the 112 studies included (see Table 1 ), 9% were published in the 1990s, 27% in the first decade of this century, and 64% were published since 2010. The total number of participants was 278,871, with the amount of participants ranging from 30 in some studies [ 59 , 60 ] to 81,247 participants in another [ 47 ]. The general age range was from 12 to 70 years, with the average age never surpassing 29 years in any of the studies. Overall, 83% of the studies (n = 93) were directed at emerging adulthood, while 17% (n = 19) focused on adolescence. Regarding the well-being measures observed, the studies analyzed used as many as 142 different variables, of which the most commonly employed were life satisfaction (35.3%), depression (25%), affect (positive and negative, 22.8%), self-esteem (17.6%), relationship satisfaction (15.4%), anxiety (11%), happiness (8.1%) and stress (5.9%).

Characteristics and main findings of the included studies.

Note: NR = information not reported.

3.2. Variables of Romantic Relationships Related to Well-Being in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Achieving the specific aim of this study involved reviewing the variables of romantic relationships which have been associated with well-being during adolescence and emerging adulthood. These variables were sorted into two categories: First, the label “relational variables”, where studies analyzing characteristics of romantic relationships and the processes that take place within them were grouped. Secondly, the label “personal variables”, which gathered the studies that examined individual variables involved in establishing, forming, and/or developing romantic relationships (see Table 2 ).

Categories, specific romantic variables, and measurement constructs of the included studies.

A total of 87 studies analyzed the association between romantic relationships and well-being based on relational variables. Relationship status, relationship quality, and relationship history and experiences were the variables most commonly focused on in the studies. In general, particularly during emerging adulthood, participants involved in a romantic relationship showed higher levels of well-being than those who were single. More specifically, it was suggested that staying single, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and remaining so in order to avoid the negative consequences of relationships (avoidance goals) was not associated with well-being, with the best predictor being satisfaction with that status. Particular aspects of relationship status, such as the stability of the relationship or the experience of splitting up, have been widely studied. Studies that equated commitment to romantic status suggested that a higher level of commitment or stability in the relationship (marriage vs. cohabitants, non-marital relationships, casual relationships, etc.) leads to a greater well-being. In this regard, a specific case analyzed was hook-up experiences. These expressions of sexuality, outside the context of a committed relationship, were only negatively associated with well-being in one study. Similarly, the experiences of separation or divorce have been identified with increased well-being if these events were evaluated positively, if the quality of the relationship was poor, or if a new relationship started shortly after the separation.

Along similar lines, the studies also evaluated the role of well-being in relationship quality, with relationship satisfaction, commitment and intimacy being the most common indicators. Throughout the periods of adolescence and emerging adulthood, high levels of quality in the relationship were positively associated with well-being, while, similarly, low levels of quality were linked to negative effects. In cases of transgression, the quality of the relationship was also identified as a mediator between forgiveness and the well-being of the transgressor. Close to the findings regarding relationship quality are those associated with relationship history and experiences. The studies in this line showed that reporting and remembering a large number of positive experiences, such as shared laughter, being at a formal or positive relational turning point, or expressing gratitude towards the partner, were all positively associated with well-being, while negative experiences, such as arguments, transgressions, power imbalance, or violence, were associated with a decrease in well-being levels.

When considered independently and not as indicators of the relationship quality, rates of commitment and intimacy between partners have also been identified as variables which can influence well-being: High levels of commitment to the relationship and intimacy between romantic partners were positively associated, where low levels of commitment showed an inverse relationship. Likewise, romantic attachment can also have important implications. The studies indicate that a secure romantic attachment would be most beneficial, while avoidant and anxious attachment have been suggested as reliable predictors of low levels of well-being.

Communication and conflict resolution between partners have both been identified as variables with a significant effect on well-being. On one hand, the disclosure of sexual problems and receiving positive body feedback from the partner were both positively associated with well-being, while on the other hand, showing high levels of positive affect in conflict situations was found to be a good predictor of relationship stability and satisfaction. Likewise, self-compassion and dyadic empathy (empathy specifically expressed towards the romantic partner) were variables found to have a positive effect, where more self-compassionate individuals were more likely to resolve interpersonal conflicts by balancing their needs to their partner’s needs, feeling more authentic and less emotionally turmoiled. Similarly, high levels of empathy in couples in the transition to parenthood led to improved levels of well-being in the partners.

Variables concerning need fulfillment and achieving relational and personal goals have also been identified as related to well-being. A partner’s support to personal needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Self-Determination Theory [ 8 ]), or the maintenance of relational behaviors driven by self-determined motives, were positively associated with well-being. Similar results were found in relation to the effects of the achievement of the ideal self and the congruence of the goals between partners. According to the studies, romantic partners can significantly influence what we become, having important implications for well-being, as well as the pursuit and involvement in activities aimed to achieve shared goals.

In the studies conducted during adolescence, violence occurring within the relationship (dating violence) in either form, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, has emerged as a highly significant negative variable for well-being, being associated to symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, and low levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction, among other symptoms. Other relational variables associated with well-being during adolescence were the maintenance of same-sex relationships and interracial relationships, as well as sexuality. The negative impact caused by expected rejection due to sexual orientation was buffered by involvement in same-sex relationships, as well as improved self-esteem and decreased levels of internalized homophobia. Conversely, interracial daters were found to be more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as to perceive less support from parents and family, compared to same-race daters and non-daters. In relation to sexuality, results showed that the influence of sexual activity in depression was differentially associated with romantic status, where sexual relations associated with greater depressive symptoms corresponded to those that occurred outside the context of a romantic relationship. On the other hand, longitudinal data associated high sexual health with higher levels of well-being in adolescent girls, using indicators such as physical, mental/emotional, and social health.

To a lesser extent, the studies reviewed addressed aspects related to relationship dynamics and their association with well-being. Research into emotional interdependence (i.e., partners’ emotions being linked to each other across time), shared relationship efficacy (i.e., partners’ shared expectations about the joint ability to maintain satisfactorily the relationship), partner-specific perfectionism concerns, or the effect of relationships at the neurological level has rarely been contrasted with other studies. Despite this, the first two aspects were established as characteristics of healthy relationships with a positive influence on well-being, however, concerns about perfectionistic demands of the partner (perceived partner’s expectations about one’s own mistakes, self-criticism, and socially prescribed perfection) generated and evoked socially negative behaviors, which in turn had a deleterious effect on negative affect and life satisfaction.

Regarding the personal variables, a total of 25 works studied their relationship with well-being. Here, the variable which received the most attention was the belief system. It has been shown that, during adolescence, the imbalance between romantic expectations and reality (romantic relationship inauthenticity) is associated with a greater risk of depression and suicidal behavior, while the Sense of Coherence (SOC), a dispositional orientation or a coping resource which reflects a person’s capacity to respond to stressful situations and life events, is linked with greater life satisfaction. In emerging adulthood, relationship expectations and beliefs were also suggested as factors influencing well-being. The congruence between previous expectations and reality, or between the ideal and the real romantic relationship, has been identified as a good indicator of well-being. There is no general consensus over the results for other kinds of beliefs, such as positive illusions (idealizing the partner), marriage myths, or benevolent sexism, although a number of studies have addressed them. The tendency is that the first two seem to be beneficial for well-being, while the latter showed a negative association.

In addition, certain types of behaviors, which may be induced by beliefs, also seem to impact well-being. On the one hand, behaviors which diminished satisfaction with the relationship, such as sexual compliance (voluntary maintenance of unwanted sex with a partner), have been negatively associated with well-being. On the other hand, behaviors linked to self-knowledge or positive management of the relationship, such as making attributions and reasoning about the mental state of others (i.e., theory of mind), self-control, authenticity (acting in a way which is congruent with one’s own values, beliefs, and needs), or the use of effective coping strategies in stressful events, were positively associated with well-being. In this sense, focusing on the problem or perceiving the situation as controllable had positive effects on well-being in cases of abuse or violence within the relationship. In less serious cases, maintaining an implicitly positive attitude towards the partner and mindfulness obtained similar results.

Regarding cognitive, emotional, and behavioral motivation, self-forgiveness or approach and avoidance motives were revealed as indicators of well-being. According to the analyzed studies, forgiving the partner or forgiving oneself, regarding harmful relationships events, was positively related to well-being. Moreover, engaging sexually with the partner increased well-being, but only when these motives were based on approximation towards positive consequences (e.g., happiness of the partner or promoting the intimacy of the relationship) and not on the avoidance of negative consequences. Similar results were found in relation to sacrifice. Self-sacrificing aimed at achieving beneficial goals, that is, pro-social behavior which gives priority to benefits to the relationship over personal benefit, has also been positively related to well-being. Conversely, emotional suppression, limiting one’s partner’s attention towards attractive alternatives, or the pursuit of traditionally masculine roles (e.g., success, competition, or power) negatively affected the partner. Finally, the level of romantic competence and other skills that promote the establishment and successful maintenance of relationships, such as perceived self-efficacy, or the ability to control relational anxiety, have been strongly linked to positive results, as well as a greater ability to make better decisions and feel more confident and satisfied with the relationship.

4. Discussion

The main aim of this study has been to carry out a systematic review of the scientific literature on the association between romantic relationships and well-being during adolescence and emerging adulthood, focusing on identifying the specific variables associated with well-being in the romantic context.

In the first place, it is important to stress that well-being has been historically been measured in many different ways. The great number of variables observed have produced a potential problem of construct validity. It seems clear that the multiple conceptual and operational definitions used in the empirical studies on well-being hinder rather than help when it comes to defining this construct [ 151 , 152 ]. It is therefore important to continue trying to bring clarity to a field which is still in evolution, with previous works and new approaches still trying to be integrated [ 6 ]. Although this has its positive side, it also highlights a greater need for improving the theoretical approaches, making them more global in terms of personality and also more precise in terms of the relationship between personality traits and relational styles in romantic processes. Another aspect which may contribute to the lack of clarity in the concept of well-being is the continued use of symptoms of mental illness as an indicator. While it is true that not all of the studies reviewed used this clinical approach, but rather adopted models from positive psychology (e.g., [ 22 , 33 , 44 , 85 , 97 , 98 ]), there is still a prevalent tendency to conceptualize well-being in terms of the absence of disease or clinical symptoms, rather than providing a positive approximation to the concept. This is quite surprising, especially considering that it has previously been established that health and mental illness work in a relatively independent manner [ 153 ], and that the factors which make either reduce do not necessarily cause the other to increase [ 154 ]. The concept of mental health proposed by positive psychology is therefore of particular relevance here, although the definition used (the existence of a high level of well-being and the absence of mental illness) [ 153 , 155 ] suggests the need to develop a methodologically diverse theory which would include the full spectrum of well-being [ 151 ] and to adopt a theoretical approach according to the concepts measured, which, as of yet, none is present in the reviewed works.

In the second place, it is clear that the scientific literature stresses the importance of romantic relationships during adolescence and emerging adulthood [ 18 , 156 , 157 ], however, the small number of studies which have focused specifically on these stages show that there is a need to provide a specific psycho-evolutionary focus. Based on the works reviewed, it can be stated that romantic relationships are significantly associated with well-being in adolescents, although a number of different personal and relational variables can be understood as risk factors. A low SOC, a lack of authenticity, or the presence of violence in relationships [ 37 , 48 , 49 , 59 , 78 , 83 , 108 , 122 , 142 ], are harmful to adolescents, all of which can be explained from different perspectives. On the one hand, according to the normative trajectory model [ 158 ], early romantic experiences can compromise the well-being of adolescents when dealing with non-normative development events. On the other hand, the stress and coping model [ 159 ] postulates that romantic relationships are intrinsically challenging, requiring skills and resources that adolescents may not have. Following studies like those of [ 160 ] and [ 161 ], it is also plausible to pose the counter-argument that high levels of well-being could act as a protective factor, promoting healthy behaviors. Research with adult populations has already established this association and suggests that people with high levels of life satisfaction are more involved in intimate activities and relationships and have better relationships [ 13 , 85 , 162 ]. The association between well-being and romantic experiences during adolescence seems, therefore, to operate under a bidirectional pattern of influence, revealing with this the existence of a more complex relationship between both processes. Besides this, it is also especially important to remember that the romantic development of adolescents does not take place in a social vacuum, so it is vitally important for the well-being of adolescents to have social contexts which provide support and emotional understanding as they face the demands and challenges that this new evolutionary task lays on them [ 163 ].

Just like in adolescence, involvement in romantic relationships can be a significant source of well-being in emerging adulthood. The research reviewed suggests that young adults who have romantic relationships are happier, feel more satisfied with their lives, have fewer problems with mental and physical illness, show greater positive affect, and have better levels of self-esteem than single people. However, as noted above, the phenomenon of romantic relationships is complex and multifaceted and is associated with both relational and personal factors, and not only with their presence or absence. The relationship quality, the satisfaction of the needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness and a secure attachment with the partner have been indicated as strong indicators of well-being [ 7 , 164 ]. In addition, variables such as high levels of commitment, intimacy, communication, providing support to achieve personal and relational goals, good conflict management, approach motives (in contrast to avoidance), authenticity, or having strategies for coping with stressful situations, are also associated with good results, as confirmed by other studies [ 165 , 166 ]. Finally, personal skills and having the competence to maintain healthy and satisfying relationships are important factors which, according to some studies, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase satisfaction with the relationship, the development of a secure attachment, and foster better decision-making. For this reason, romantic relationships based on principles of mental and emotional health and romantic competence [ 23 , 167 ] are considered to be among the prime sources of well-being during emerging adulthood.

5. Conclusions

Based on these results, one of the main conclusions from this study is the invaluable role which romantic relationships play in well-being during adolescence and emerging adulthood. As a result, this work supports their consideration as developmental assets [ 14 ]. However, the numerous benefits which are associated with them call for certain parameters to be agreed on. A relationship which is beneficial for well-being would, in general terms, have high-quality levels, through which the partners can develop their potential, achieve personal and shared goals, and maintain a secure attachment. To achieve this, people must achieve certain cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills. It is proposed that these principles be integrated into a more parsimonious analysis, which could aid our understanding of positive romantic relationships. From this viewpoint, this study proposes romantic well-being as a new term of analysis and suggests that in future research it can be understood and evaluated as a specific category. One of the main strengths of this work, therefore, is the initial approach of a new theoretical model, termed the multidimensional model of romantic well-being, whose dimensions correspond to the particular factors which, according to the research, play an especially important role in achieving positive results, namely relationship quality, need fulfillment, the achievement of personal and relational goals, romantic attachment, and the development of individual skills.

Regarding the empirical approach to well-being, the main conclusion here is that it is necessary to understand the concept of well-being in of itself, without continually referring to a disease or symptom. This distorts the construct and prevents from relating it to dimensions which are also complex and rather diverse, such as those involved in the psycho-evolutionary task of adolescents maintaining a romantic relationship. Therefore, further research is required to establish a common, shared, and reliable theoretical and methodological framework for well-being, also allowing the ability to address the scientific study of romantic relationships in stages prior to adulthood, especially during adolescence. It is essential to adopt educational, clinical, and community models which focus on the need to promote positive, healthy, and satisfactory relationships, as well as raising awareness of this need among all professionals responsible for people’s health.

Author Contributions

This study has been developed with the contribution of all its authors. Conceptualization, C.V. and R.O.-R.; Methodology, M.G.-L. and C.V.; Formal analysis, M.G.-L; Writing—original draft preparation, M.G.-L.; Writing—review and editing, M.G.-L., C.V. and R.O.-R; Supervision, C.V. and R.O.-R.

This research was funded by Plan Nacional, España, into the frame of the national project “Competencia Socio-Moral y Ecología del Grupo de Iguales en la Violencia entre Escolares: un Estudio Longitudinal y Transaccional” [PSI2016-74871-R].

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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essay on positive relationship

In the summer, in the south of France, my husband and I like to play, rather badly, the lottery. We take long, scorching walks to the village — gratuitous beauty, gratuitous heat — kicking up dust and languid debates over how we’d spend such an influx. I purchase scratch-offs, jackpot tickets, scraping the former with euro coins in restaurants too fine for that. I never cash them in, nor do I check the winning numbers. For I already won something like the lotto, with its gifts and its curses, when he married me.

He is ten years older than I am. I chose him on purpose, not by chance. As far as life decisions go, on balance, I recommend it.

When I was 20 and a junior at Harvard College, a series of great ironies began to mock me. I could study all I wanted, prove myself as exceptional as I liked, and still my fiercest advantage remained so universal it deflated my other plans. My youth. The newness of my face and body. Compellingly effortless; cruelly fleeting. I shared it with the average, idle young woman shrugging down the street. The thought, when it descended on me, jolted my perspective, the way a falling leaf can make you look up: I could diligently craft an ideal existence, over years and years of sleepless nights and industry. Or I could just marry it early.

So naturally I began to lug a heavy suitcase of books each Saturday to the Harvard Business School to work on my Nabokov paper. In one cavernous, well-appointed room sat approximately 50 of the planet’s most suitable bachelors. I had high breasts, most of my eggs, plausible deniability when it came to purity, a flush ponytail, a pep in my step that had yet to run out. Apologies to Progress, but older men still desired those things.

I could not understand why my female classmates did not join me, given their intelligence. Each time I reconsidered the project, it struck me as more reasonable. Why ignore our youth when it amounted to a superpower? Why assume the burdens of womanhood, its too-quick-to-vanish upper hand, but not its brief benefits at least? Perhaps it came easier to avoid the topic wholesale than to accept that women really do have a tragically short window of power, and reason enough to take advantage of that fact while they can. As for me, I liked history, Victorian novels, knew of imminent female pitfalls from all the books I’d read: vampiric boyfriends; labor, at the office and in the hospital, expected simultaneously; a decline in status as we aged, like a looming eclipse. I’d have disliked being called calculating, but I had, like all women, a calculator in my head. I thought it silly to ignore its answers when they pointed to an unfairness for which we really ought to have been preparing.

I was competitive by nature, an English-literature student with all the corresponding major ambitions and minor prospects (Great American novel; email job). A little Bovarist , frantic for new places and ideas; to travel here, to travel there, to be in the room where things happened. I resented the callow boys in my class, who lusted after a particular, socially sanctioned type on campus: thin and sexless, emotionally detached and socially connected, the opposite of me. Restless one Saturday night, I slipped on a red dress and snuck into a graduate-school event, coiling an HDMI cord around my wrist as proof of some technical duty. I danced. I drank for free, until one of the organizers asked me to leave. I called and climbed into an Uber. Then I promptly climbed out of it. For there he was, emerging from the revolving doors. Brown eyes, curved lips, immaculate jacket. I went to him, asked him for a cigarette. A date, days later. A second one, where I discovered he was a person, potentially my favorite kind: funny, clear-eyed, brilliant, on intimate terms with the universe.

I used to love men like men love women — that is, not very well, and with a hunger driven only by my own inadequacies. Not him. In those early days, I spoke fondly of my family, stocked the fridge with his favorite pasta, folded his clothes more neatly than I ever have since. I wrote his mother a thank-you note for hosting me in his native France, something befitting a daughter-in-law. It worked; I meant it. After graduation and my fellowship at Oxford, I stayed in Europe for his career and married him at 23.

Of course I just fell in love. Romances have a setting; I had only intervened to place myself well. Mainly, I spotted the precise trouble of being a woman ahead of time, tried to surf it instead of letting it drown me on principle. I had grown bored of discussions of fair and unfair, equal or unequal , and preferred instead to consider a thing called ease.

The reception of a particular age-gap relationship depends on its obviousness. The greater and more visible the difference in years and status between a man and a woman, the more it strikes others as transactional. Transactional thinking in relationships is both as American as it gets and the least kosher subject in the American romantic lexicon. When a 50-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman walk down the street, the questions form themselves inside of you; they make you feel cynical and obscene: How good of a deal is that? Which party is getting the better one? Would I take it? He is older. Income rises with age, so we assume he has money, at least relative to her; at minimum, more connections and experience. She has supple skin. Energy. Sex. Maybe she gets a Birkin. Maybe he gets a baby long after his prime. The sight of their entwined hands throws a lucid light on the calculations each of us makes, in love, to varying degrees of denial. You could get married in the most romantic place in the world, like I did, and you would still have to sign a contract.

Twenty and 30 is not like 30 and 40; some freshness to my features back then, some clumsiness in my bearing, warped our decade, in the eyes of others, to an uncrossable gulf. Perhaps this explains the anger we felt directed at us at the start of our relationship. People seemed to take us very, very personally. I recall a hellish car ride with a friend of his who began to castigate me in the backseat, in tones so low that only I could hear him. He told me, You wanted a rich boyfriend. You chased and snuck into parties . He spared me the insult of gold digger, but he drew, with other words, the outline for it. Most offended were the single older women, my husband’s classmates. They discussed me in the bathroom at parties when I was in the stall. What does he see in her? What do they talk about? They were concerned about me. They wielded their concern like a bludgeon. They paraphrased without meaning to my favorite line from Nabokov’s Lolita : “You took advantage of my disadvantage,” suspecting me of some weakness he in turn mined. It did not disturb them, so much, to consider that all relationships were trades. The trouble was the trade I’d made struck them as a bad one.

The truth is you can fall in love with someone for all sorts of reasons, tiny transactions, pluses and minuses, whose sum is your affection for each other, your loyalty, your commitment. The way someone picks up your favorite croissant. Their habit of listening hard. What they do for you on your anniversary and your reciprocal gesture, wrapped thoughtfully. The serenity they inspire; your happiness, enlivening it. When someone says they feel unappreciated, what they really mean is you’re in debt to them.

When I think of same-age, same-stage relationships, what I tend to picture is a woman who is doing too much for too little.

I’m 27 now, and most women my age have “partners.” These days, girls become partners quite young. A partner is supposed to be a modern answer to the oppression of marriage, the terrible feeling of someone looming over you, head of a household to which you can only ever be the neck. Necks are vulnerable. The problem with a partner, however, is if you’re equal in all things, you compromise in all things. And men are too skilled at taking .

There is a boy out there who knows how to floss because my friend taught him. Now he kisses college girls with fresh breath. A boy married to my friend who doesn’t know how to pack his own suitcase. She “likes to do it for him.” A million boys who know how to touch a woman, who go to therapy because they were pushed, who learned fidelity, boundaries, decency, manners, to use a top sheet and act humanely beneath it, to call their mothers, match colors, bring flowers to a funeral and inhale, exhale in the face of rage, because some girl, some girl we know, some girl they probably don’t speak to and will never, ever credit, took the time to teach him. All while she was working, raising herself, clawing up the cliff-face of adulthood. Hauling him at her own expense.

I find a post on Reddit where five thousand men try to define “ a woman’s touch .” They describe raised flower beds, blankets, photographs of their loved ones, not hers, sprouting on the mantel overnight. Candles, coasters, side tables. Someone remembering to take lint out of the dryer. To give compliments. I wonder what these women are getting back. I imagine them like Cinderella’s mice, scurrying around, their sole proof of life their contributions to a more central character. On occasion I meet a nice couple, who grew up together. They know each other with a fraternalism tender and alien to me.  But I think of all my friends who failed at this, were failed at this, and I think, No, absolutely not, too risky . Riskier, sometimes, than an age gap.

My younger brother is in his early 20s, handsome, successful, but in many ways: an endearing disaster. By his age, I had long since wisened up. He leaves his clothes in the dryer, takes out a single shirt, steams it for three minutes. His towel on the floor, for someone else to retrieve. His lovely, same-age girlfriend is aching to fix these tendencies, among others. She is capable beyond words. Statistically, they will not end up together. He moved into his first place recently, and she, the girlfriend, supplied him with a long, detailed list of things he needed for his apartment: sheets, towels, hangers, a colander, which made me laugh. She picked out his couch. I will bet you anything she will fix his laundry habits, and if so, they will impress the next girl. If they break up, she will never see that couch again, and he will forget its story. I tell her when I visit because I like her, though I get in trouble for it: You shouldn’t do so much for him, not for someone who is not stuck with you, not for any boy, not even for my wonderful brother.

Too much work had left my husband, by 30, jaded and uninspired. He’d burned out — but I could reenchant things. I danced at restaurants when they played a song I liked. I turned grocery shopping into an adventure, pleased by what I provided. Ambitious, hungry, he needed someone smart enough to sustain his interest, but flexible enough in her habits to build them around his hours. I could. I do: read myself occupied, make myself free, materialize beside him when he calls for me. In exchange, I left a lucrative but deadening spreadsheet job to write full-time, without having to live like a writer. I learned to cook, a little, and decorate, somewhat poorly. Mostly I get to read, to walk central London and Miami and think in delicious circles, to work hard, when necessary, for free, and write stories for far less than minimum wage when I tally all the hours I take to write them.

At 20, I had felt daunted by the project of becoming my ideal self, couldn’t imagine doing it in tandem with someone, two raw lumps of clay trying to mold one another and only sullying things worse. I’d go on dates with boys my age and leave with the impression they were telling me not about themselves but some person who didn’t exist yet and on whom I was meant to bet regardless. My husband struck me instead as so finished, formed. Analyzable for compatibility. He bore the traces of other women who’d improved him, small but crucial basics like use a coaster ; listen, don’t give advice. Young egos mellow into patience and generosity.

My husband isn’t my partner. He’s my mentor, my lover, and, only in certain contexts, my friend. I’ll never forget it, how he showed me around our first place like he was introducing me to myself: This is the wine you’ll drink, where you’ll keep your clothes, we vacation here, this is the other language we’ll speak, you’ll learn it, and I did. Adulthood seemed a series of exhausting obligations. But his logistics ran so smoothly that he simply tacked mine on. I moved into his flat, onto his level, drag and drop, cleaner thrice a week, bills automatic. By opting out of partnership in my 20s, I granted myself a kind of compartmentalized, liberating selfishness none of my friends have managed. I am the work in progress, the party we worry about, a surprising dominance. When I searched for my first job, at 21, we combined our efforts, for my sake. He had wisdom to impart, contacts with whom he arranged coffees; we spent an afternoon, laughing, drawing up earnest lists of my pros and cons (highly sociable; sloppy math). Meanwhile, I took calls from a dear friend who had a boyfriend her age. Both savagely ambitious, hyperclose and entwined in each other’s projects. If each was a start-up , the other was the first hire, an intense dedication I found riveting. Yet every time she called me, I hung up with the distinct feeling that too much was happening at the same time: both learning to please a boss; to forge more adult relationships with their families; to pay bills and taxes and hang prints on the wall. Neither had any advice to give and certainly no stability. I pictured a three-legged race, two people tied together and hobbling toward every milestone.

I don’t fool myself. My marriage has its cons. There are only so many times one can say “thank you” — for splendid scenes, fine dinners — before the phrase starts to grate. I live in an apartment whose rent he pays and that shapes the freedom with which I can ever be angry with him. He doesn’t have to hold it over my head. It just floats there, complicating usual shorthands to explain dissatisfaction like, You aren’t being supportive lately . It’s a Frenchism to say, “Take a decision,” and from time to time I joke: from whom? Occasionally I find myself in some fabulous country at some fabulous party and I think what a long way I have traveled, like a lucky cloud, and it is frightening to think of oneself as vapor.

Mostly I worry that if he ever betrayed me and I had to move on, I would survive, but would find in my humor, preferences, the way I make coffee or the bed nothing that he did not teach, change, mold, recompose, stamp with his initials, the way Renaissance painters hid in their paintings their faces among a crowd. I wonder if when they looked at their paintings, they saw their own faces first. But this is the wrong question, if our aim is happiness. Like the other question on which I’m expected to dwell: Who is in charge, the man who drives or the woman who put him there so she could enjoy herself? I sit in the car, in the painting it would have taken me a corporate job and 20 years to paint alone, and my concern over who has the upper hand becomes as distant as the horizon, the one he and I made so wide for me.

To be a woman is to race against the clock, in several ways, until there is nothing left to be but run ragged.

We try to put it off, but it will hit us at some point: that we live in a world in which our power has a different shape from that of men, a different distribution of advantage, ours a funnel and theirs an expanding cone. A woman at 20 rarely has to earn her welcome; a boy at 20 will be turned away at the door. A woman at 30 may find a younger woman has taken her seat; a man at 30 will have invited her. I think back to the women in the bathroom, my husband’s classmates. What was my relationship if not an inconvertible sign of this unfairness? What was I doing, in marrying older, if not endorsing it? I had taken advantage of their disadvantage. I had preempted my own. After all, principled women are meant to defy unfairness, to show some integrity or denial, not plan around it, like I had. These were driven women, successful, beautiful, capable. I merely possessed the one thing they had already lost. In getting ahead of the problem, had I pushed them down? If I hadn’t, would it really have made any difference?

When we decided we wanted to be equal to men, we got on men’s time. We worked when they worked, retired when they retired, had to squeeze pregnancy, children, menopause somewhere impossibly in the margins. I have a friend, in her late 20s, who wears a mood ring; these days it is often red, flickering in the air like a siren when she explains her predicament to me. She has raised her fair share of same-age boyfriends. She has put her head down, worked laboriously alongside them, too. At last she is beginning to reap the dividends, earning the income to finally enjoy herself. But it is now, exactly at this precipice of freedom and pleasure, that a time problem comes closing in. If she would like to have children before 35, she must begin her next profession, motherhood, rather soon, compromising inevitably her original one. The same-age partner, equally unsettled in his career, will take only the minimum time off, she guesses, or else pay some cost which will come back to bite her. Everything unfailingly does. If she freezes her eggs to buy time, the decision and its logistics will burden her singly — and perhaps it will not work. Overlay the years a woman is supposed to establish herself in her career and her fertility window and it’s a perfect, miserable circle. By midlife women report feeling invisible, undervalued; it is a telling cliché, that after all this, some husbands leave for a younger girl. So when is her time, exactly? For leisure, ease, liberty? There is no brand of feminism which achieved female rest. If women’s problem in the ’50s was a paralyzing malaise, now it is that they are too active, too capable, never permitted a vacation they didn’t plan. It’s not that our efforts to have it all were fated for failure. They simply weren’t imaginative enough.

For me, my relationship, with its age gap, has alleviated this rush , permitted me to massage the clock, shift its hands to my benefit. Very soon, we will decide to have children, and I don’t panic over last gasps of fun, because I took so many big breaths of it early: on the holidays of someone who had worked a decade longer than I had, in beautiful places when I was young and beautiful, a symmetry I recommend. If such a thing as maternal energy exists, mine was never depleted. I spent the last nearly seven years supported more than I support and I am still not as old as my husband was when he met me. When I have a child, I will expect more help from him than I would if he were younger, for what does professional tenure earn you if not the right to set more limits on work demands — or, if not, to secure some child care, at the very least? When I return to work after maternal upheaval, he will aid me, as he’s always had, with his ability to put himself aside, as younger men are rarely able.

Above all, the great gift of my marriage is flexibility. A chance to live my life before I become responsible for someone else’s — a lover’s, or a child’s. A chance to write. A chance at a destiny that doesn’t adhere rigidly to the routines and timelines of men, but lends itself instead to roomy accommodation, to the very fluidity Betty Friedan dreamed of in 1963 in The Feminine Mystique , but we’ve largely forgotten: some career or style of life that “permits year-to-year variation — a full-time paid job in one community, part-time in another, exercise of the professional skill in serious volunteer work or a period of study during pregnancy or early motherhood when a full-time job is not feasible.” Some things are just not feasible in our current structures. Somewhere along the way we stopped admitting that, and all we did was make women feel like personal failures. I dream of new structures, a world in which women have entry-level jobs in their 30s; alternate avenues for promotion; corporate ladders with balconies on which they can stand still, have a smoke, take a break, make a baby, enjoy themselves, before they keep climbing. Perhaps men long for this in their own way. Actually I am sure of that.

Once, when we first fell in love, I put my head in his lap on a long car ride; I remember his hands on my face, the sun, the twisting turns of a mountain road, surprising and not surprising us like our romance, and his voice, telling me that it was his biggest regret that I was so young, he feared he would lose me. Last week, we looked back at old photos and agreed we’d given each other our respective best years. Sometimes real equality is not so obvious, sometimes it takes turns, sometimes it takes almost a decade to reveal itself.

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  • Open access
  • Published: 25 March 2024

Fostering idealogical and polical education via knowledge graph and KNN model: an emphasis on positive psychology

  • Shuangquan Chen 1 ,
  • Yu Ma 1 &
  • Wanting Lian 2  

BMC Psychology volume  12 , Article number:  170 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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As the primary domain of ideological and political education in higher education institutions, ideological and political courses must align with principles rooted in human psychology and education. Integrating educational psychology into ideological and political teaching in universities enhances the scientific, targeted, and forward-thinking nature of such education. The burgeoning exploration of knowledge graph applications has extended to machine translation, semantic search, and intelligent question answering. Diverging from traditional text matching, the knowledge spectrum graph transforms information acquisition in search engines. This paper pioneers a predictive system for delineating the relationship between educational psychology and ideological and political education in universities. Initially, it extracts diverse psychological mapping relationships of students, constructing a knowledge graph. By employing the KNN algorithm, the system analyzes psychological characteristics to effectively forecast the relationship between educational psychology and ideological and political education in universities. The system's functionality is meticulously detailed in this paper, and its performance is rigorously tested. The results demonstrate high accuracy, recall rates, and F1 values. The F1 score can reach 0.95enabling precise sample classification. The apex of the average curve for system response time peaks at approximately 2.5 s, maintaining an average response time of less than 3 s. This aligns seamlessly with the demands of practical online teaching requirements. The system adeptly forecasts the relationship between educational psychology and ideological and political education in universities, meeting response time requirements and thereby fostering the scientific and predictive nature of ideological and political teaching in higher education institutions.

Peer Review reports


Nowadays, large-scale online teaching has brought online education to a new level. Facing with the development trend of normalization of online education, how to make use of the intelligent technology and methods to improve the quality of online education to provide guidance for better development of online education is an urgent issue to be solved.

Under the environment of new media communication, various cultural trends of thought have flooded online platforms, which have a serious impact on the psychological and ideological health of young students. However, pure ideological and political education has relatively little impact on students' mental health, and it has become extremely important to integrate psychological education into ideological and political education. The ideological and political course must also follow the laws of human psychology and education [ 1 , 2 ]. The educational psychology can be applied to the ideological and political teaching, which is helpful to improve the pertinence and predictability of the online education. The integration of these two concepts is conducive to improving the scientific nature of teaching [ 3 , 4 ]. In the teaching, teachers should adopt different educational methods for different students to improve the pertinence of teaching. In order to better improve the predictability of teaching, we should put ideological and political education in the front to enhance its predictability.

One of the most significant impacts of online education normalization is its potential to democratize access to education. Students from diverse backgrounds and geographical locations can now engage in learning opportunities that were previously limited by physical constraints. This inclusivity fosters a more equitable educational environment, empowering individuals who may have otherwise faced barriers to access. However, this democratization comes with its set of challenges. The lack of face-to-face interaction and the isolation associated with virtual learning can adversely affect student well-being. The absence of social connections and the traditional classroom atmosphere may contribute to feelings of loneliness and disengagement. As such, it is imperative to address these issues to ensure that the benefits of online education are not overshadowed by the potential negative impact on students' mental health. Moreover, the urgency of integrating intelligent technology into virtual learning experiences cannot be overstated. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms have the potential to personalize education, catering to individual learning styles and pacing. By analyzing students' progress and adapting content accordingly, intelligent technology can create a more tailored and effective learning experience.

The knowledge graph is a concept recently proposed by Google, whose essence is a knowledge base of semantic web [ 5 , 6 ]. The knowledge graph is a product bred in the semantic web environment, which can be used to describe entity concepts and the logical relationship between them [ 7 , 8 ]. According to the coverage scope of knowledge, the knowledge graph can be divided into two types, the vertical domain knowledge graph is mainly for a professional field, which mainly pursues the depth and accuracy of knowledge [ 9 ]. The open knowledge graph is more like a large encyclopedia database, which contains a variety of knowledge in the real world.

In the context of machine translation, a well-maintained knowledge graph serves as a reservoir of contextual information. The relationships between entities provide crucial context that aids in disambiguating language nuances and improving translation accuracy. For instance, understanding the relationship between a word and its various meanings in different contexts helps refine translations, making them more contextually relevant. Continuous development of the knowledge graph ensures that it stays abreast of evolving language nuances, cultural shifts, and domain-specific terminologies, enhancing the adaptability of machine translation systems over time. Semantic search, on the other hand, relies heavily on the ability to understand the meaning and context behind user queries. A knowledge graph acts as a powerful tool in deciphering these intricacies by establishing connections between entities and capturing the inherent relationships within a vast sea of information. The continuous enrichment of the knowledge graph ensures that semantic search systems can keep pace with evolving user intent, emerging trends, and evolving language usage, thereby delivering more precise and relevant search results.

Now, considering the proposed relationship prediction system, the importance of a robust knowledge graph becomes even more evident. Relationships between entities form the backbone of any predictive model, and a well-maintained knowledge graph provides the necessary foundation. As relationships evolve and new connections emerge, the knowledge graph serves as a living, breathing repository of information. This dynamism enables the relationship prediction system to adapt and improve continually, ensuring its relevance and accuracy over time.

Therefore, the integration of online educational psychology and ideological and political teaching is conducive to improving the scientific nature of online teaching. Before applying educational psychology to the online teaching, it is necessary to understand the relationship between the two concepts. Therefore, it is necessary to design a system that can effectively predict the relationship between the two concepts. The main contributions of this paper are as follows:

We employed the KNN model to extract the intricate relationship between questionnaires and psychological traits. Leveraging a clustering algorithm, the research delves into a detailed analysis of the psychological characteristics exhibited by students.

We introduced a systematic approach to predict the relationship between questionnaires and psychological traits and provided a thorough and detailed design of the predictive system's functions, elucidating how it operates in predicting the correlation between questionnaires and psychological characteristics.

Related works

The knowledge graph assumes a pivotal role in representing the intricate relationships between entities, offering a simulation of the problem-solving approaches employed by human experts [ 10 ]. This visual representation, serving as a vital tool, delineates into two distinctive types— the general knowledge graph and the industry knowledge graph. The inception of the knowledge graph concept by Google has catalyzed a surge in scholarly exploration, setting the stage for an intensified research landscape. In recent years, the depth of research on knowledge graphs has notably increased. Scholars have introduced the semantic web in scholarly references, facilitating intelligent communication between humans and machines [ 11 ]. An in-depth analysis of students' learning characteristics in online education, grounded in the knowledge graph, is presented, providing a directional compass for the evolution of future educational platforms. Leveraging data mining technology, researchers identify deficiencies within established knowledge graphs, culminating in the formation of cohesive learning clusters [ 12 ]. This burgeoning research landscape underscores the evolving significance of knowledge graphs, not merely as visual aids but as dynamic tools shaping the interface between human cognition and computational intelligence, thereby propelling advancements in diverse fields.

In the pivotal stage of preparatory learning, the significance of learning interest and motivation assumes a paramount role in shaping the learning process and outcomes [ 13 , 14 ]. Contemporary online learning exhibits attributes of heightened psychological immersion, substantial interactivity, and extensive feedback, thereby fostering learner engagement by restructuring the learning trajectory. This approach induces a profound sense of participation and immersion, thereby eliciting learners' interest and galvanizing their motivation to learn. Delving into the psychological facets of students' learning, Frenzel et al. [ 15 ] articulate these facets as intrinsic states manifested across various dimensions of students' emotions, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings during mathematical learning. Gojkov et al. [ 16 ], in their scrutiny of the learning psychological attributes of exceptional students, conducted an in-depth investigation and interviews, scrutinizing their sentiments, cognitions, perceptions, and emotions throughout the learning process. The analysis encompassed cognitive, non-cognitive, and metacognitive levels, discerning disparities between exceptional students and their counterparts.

In recent years, scholarly attention in the realm of learners' learning psychology has predominantly shifted towards unraveling psychological barriers in the learning process. Investigations have dissected students' learning journeys, accounting for distinct disciplinary characteristics to alleviate or eliminate psychological impediments in learning [ 17 ]. The ideological and political course is to make college students form a correct world outlook, and the educational psychology mainly studies the law of psychological activities of teachers and students in school situations. Both these two concepts contain elements such as belief and will [ 18 ]. At present, the research on the application of educational psychology has made a lot of research results. The references put forward the theory of constructivism to guide the teaching, which has a profound inspiration for innovative education in ideological and political teaching [ 19 ]. By analyzing the characteristics of educational psychology in teaching, [ 20 ] proposed that teachers should understand and grasp the psychological characteristics. The effectiveness of ideological and political teaching is studied in the references, the results show that the teaching should integrate personality education theory into the classroom [ 21 ]. The teaching strategies of ideological politics are discussed in the references, and the results show that the ideological politics could learn from some theories of educational psychology [ 22 , 23 ]. Different scholars have analyzed the application of educational psychology, which provides valuable reference for this paper.


The overall framework of the model

Based on the methods of text classification and cluster analysis, this paper analyzes the mapping relationship between questionnaire and educational psychology. Combined with the questionnaire data, the personal mastery value of students is extracted, which is then transformed into the learning characteristics in different educational psychology. By using the clustering algorithm, students can be divided into several categories according to the differences in learning characteristics. In this paper, the feasibility of clustering algorithm is verified, and the learning characteristics of each class of students are analyzed. The overall framework of the model is shown in Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Prior to integrating educational psychology into teaching, it is imperative to comprehend the nuanced relationship between them. This paper introduces a knowledge graph model grounded in clustering analysis. Within this model, the questionnaire-psychological mapping relationship is derived through a KNN model, and psychological characteristics are scrutinized via a clustering algorithm.

Educational psychology in this model is categorized into three main facets: teacher psychology, student psychology, and the communication psychology between teachers and students. Within the realm of teacher psychology, attributes such as personality charm, teacher prestige, and teaching effectiveness are considered. Student psychology encompasses two key dimensions: self-consciousness and personality tendency. Among these relationships, the teacher-student relationship emerges as the foundational interpersonal dynamic in the teaching context.

The questionnaire-psychological mapping relation extraction based on KNN

Using the text classification algorithm in text analysis, the k-NN model [ 24 , 25 ] classifies the questionnaires into different educational psychology firstly. If a questionnaire contains multiple educational psychology, it is impossible to determine the learning characteristics of students in multiple educational psychology, so each questionnaire is considered to be an educational psychology. The data in the questionnaire are analyzed in depth to obtain each the psychological learning characteristics of students. In order to facilitate the analysis, the correlation between the questionnaire and the psychological point is represented by the questionnaire-psychological matrix K, as shown in Formula 1 . Formula 1 shows.

where \(k_{mn}\) denotes whether questionnaire m belongs to psychology n, m denotes the number of questionnaires, and n denotes the type of educational psychology. When \(k_{mn} = 1\) , it means that questionnaire m belongs to psychology n.

The classification model is used to process the extracted text features. Due to the large number of questionnaires and the high dimension of text features, the simplest classification model is selected to deal with the evaluation questions. The extracted text features are obtained by using the k-NN model, and the text features of the test questions are divided into two types. The subordinate relationship between questionnaire data and psychology in training samples is given by authoritative experts in this field. The text features of the training samples have a classification label, each of which represents a psychology.

The analysis of psychological characteristics based on knowledge graph

The clustering analysis is the process of dividing the set of abstract objects into multiple clusters composed of similar objects. The common clustering analysis algorithms are hierarchical clustering method and DBSCAN density method [ 26 ], the DBSCAN density clustering algorithm is selected in this paper, which can divide regions with enough high density into clusters [ 27 ].

Combined with text classification, the questionnaire can be classified into educational psychology, and the questionnaire-psychological learning characteristic matrix can be obtained. According to the psychological learning characteristics of each students, the DBSCAN clustering algorithm is used to cluster the students, and the questionnaire-psychological characteristic matrix after clustering can be obtained.

There are three forms of the learning characteristics in educational psychology, which are the high standard, the medium standard and the low standard. \(s_{t}\) represents the mastery of educational psychology, as shown in Formula 2 .

Where \(s_{t}\) values in the interval [0, 1]. A higher value indicates a higher degree of mastery in this psychology. If \(s_{t} \in [0.7,1]\) , it signifies that students have a proficient grasp of this educational psychology, falling into the category of high standards. If \(s_{t} \in [0.3,0.7]\) , it suggests that students' mastery level in this educational psychology is average, corresponding to the middle standard. If \(s_{t} \in [0,0.3]\) , it implies that students' mastery level in this educational psychology is not satisfactory, categorizing them under the low standard.

The knowledge graph is composed of entities and the relationships between them, the relationships between entities are the edges in the knowledge graph [ 28 ]. Through the clustering analysis of learning characteristics, multiple student classes can be obtained. Then the relationship between students is analyzed, and each student in each category has a learning characteristic value in each psychology. In order to avoid the inaccuracy of the constructed knowledge graph, the authority and rationality of the model are verified according to the difference of learning stability [ 29 ].

In order to verify the effect of knowledge graph, the stability of educational psychology is introduced, and its calculation is shown in Formula 3 .

Where \(Mu_{tx}\) represents the stability value of educational psychology, which indicates the learning characteristics of students in educational psychology.

The educational psychological balance is introduced to evaluate the model, and its calculation is shown in Formula 4 .

Where \(Mu_{t}\) \(M{u}_{t}\) represents the variance between all learning characteristics and the learning characteristics of the student.

Prediction system design

The knowledge graph model based on cluster analysis is introduced above, which can effectively predict the relationship between these two concepts. Then, the system module will be designed in detail from four aspects, which are the software development environment and experimental data, the structure design, the data acquisition module and the knowledge display and storage.

The background language of the system is Python that has low learning cost and many mature frameworks, and the Django framework of Python language is used in this paper. According to the size and functional requirements of system, the Django framework is selected in this paper. The database selected in this paper is ProQuest Psychology Database, which is the most comprehensive full-text database of full-text journals of pedagogy and psychology in the world. The data used in this paper includes two parts, one is the basic information data of students, the other is the answer record data of students.

The Django architecture is used in this system, which not only has a clear division of labor, but also does not interfere with each other. The method used in this paper can reduce the coupling of the system, whose architecture is shown in Fig.  2 .

figure 2

The system architecture

This system consists of two modules, one is the management module, and the other is the analysis module. The management module implements student information management and evaluation data management, and the analysis module can not only realize the matching of questionnaire and educational psychology, but also realize the extraction of characteristics and the construction of knowledge graph.

Firstly, the system selects some modules as the initial URL, and then the HTML structure can be viewed through the developer mode. By custom page link parser, you can get other URLs contained in this module, which is then stored in the site URL list and stored locally in text format. When crawling the text, the text judgment mechanism is added in order to eliminate non-ideological and political data. Before storing the text locally, it is necessary to determine whether there are ideological and political terms in the text. If there are no ideological and political terms, no operation is carried out, the system will continue to access other URLs until the URL queue is empty.

The calculation of logical unit is shown in Formulas ( 5 ) to ( 7 ).

Where \(i\) represents the input gate, \(f\) represents the output gate, \(o\) represents the forget gate, \(\delta\) represents the activation function, \(d_{t}\) 、 \(d_{f}\) and \(d_{o}\) represent the offset vector.

The knowledge storage

The representation forms of knowledge graph are RDF triples and graph database. The RDF can store data in the form of metadata, and the graph database stores and inquires data in the form of graphs. This paper selects RDF triples to represent the ideological and political knowledge triples, and the API is used to store RDF files into the graph database.

Then, it is necessary to build a data interpreter in RDF files and graph databases to complete the knowledge storage. Firstly, the API is needed to parse the obtained RDF files and encapsulate the subjects, in which the RDF files are used to encapsulate representation subjects, predicates, and objects. Secondly, the encapsulated triple objects are connected to the graph database, then we need to parse it with a built data parser. Finally, the relevant parameters of the graph database are set, and the API is used to store node relationships in batches inside the server. The flowchart is shown in Fig.  3 .

figure 3

The flow chart of knowledge storage

The analysis of system performance

The relationship prediction system between these two concepts is a complicated system, whose practicability needs to be tested in practice. The knowledge graph is applied to the prediction of the relationship between these two concepts, so the performance of the system should be tested.

Evaluation index

The effectiveness of the clustering algorithm is measured by Accuracy, Recall and F1 value. Let TP represent the true example, TN represent the true negative example, FP represent the false positive example, FN represent the negative example, then the specific calculation formula of each evaluation index is as follows:

The classification effect of system model

In the relationship prediction system, the text classification effect of the model is of great significance. In this paper, the k-NN model is used to classify the samples, and the classification effect of the classified samples is tested. The corresponding distribution of questionnaire and educational psychology is tested, in which the sample size is 200 and the corresponding distribution of questionnaire and educational psychology can be obtained by k-NN model. The test results of precision, recall and F1 value are shown in Fig.  4 .

figure 4

The classification effect of samples

The assessment of the kNN model reveals its remarkable classification prowess, exemplified by precision, recall, and F1 parameters consistently surpassing 0.95 across diverse educational psychology datasets. These high F1 scores signify the model's exceptional capability in accurately classifying samples. Furthermore, the model demonstrates elevated precision and recall values, indicating its sensitivity to various category datasets. The overall performance of the k-NN model in the relationship prediction system is commendable, showcasing its proficiency in achieving precise sample classification. The model's robust classification effects, as evidenced by its performance metrics, affirm its reliability and effectiveness in accurately predicting relationships within the system.

The prediction of the relationship

In order to predict the relationship between different educational psychology and the learning effect, the relationship between different educational psychology and the learning characteristics of students is explored in this paper. The learning characteristics are divided into four levels, which are the learning enthusiasm, the learning habits, the mental health and the social ability. The correlation coefficient is used to characterize the matching degree of different educational psychology and learning characteristics. The greater the correlation coefficient is, the greater the correlation between educational psychology and learning characteristics is. The results are shown in Fig.  5 .

figure 5

In Fig.  5 , various curves delineate distinct facets of educational psychology, specifically focusing on personality allure, teacher prestige, teaching experience, self-awareness, personality proclivity, and teacher-student communication. A heightened correlation coefficient between educational psychology and learning attributes signifies a stronger association between them. Figure  6 illustrates that the correlation coefficient between personality proclivity and learning enthusiasm is the most substantial, nearing 1. This suggests that personality proclivity significantly enhances enthusiasm for ideological and psychological learning. In contrast, when compared to other psychological factors, the correlation coefficient between political learning habits and teacher prestige is the most pronounced, indicating that teacher prestige plays a pivotal role in fostering ideological and political learning habits.

figure 6

The synthetic evaluation

Furthermore, in comparison to other psychological elements, teaching experience exhibits the highest correlation coefficient with mental health, signifying a robust correlation between teaching experience and mental well-being. Similarly, self-awareness demonstrates the most noticeable correlation with social aptitude. These results underscore the efficacy of the proposed model, showcasing its capability to predict relationships effectively.

To discern the impact of diverse educational psychology on learning attributes, a comprehensive assessment of their effects is undertaken. This approach allows for the identification of the educational psychology exerting the most profound overall influence on learning characteristics. This insight proves invaluable for educators seeking to enhance teaching quality. The effects of various educational psychology factors on distinct learning characteristics are graphically depicted in Fig.  6 .

The abscissa represents different educational psychology in the figure, namely the personality charm, the teacher prestige, the teaching experience, the self-consciousness, the personality tendency and the communication between teachers and students. The line chart is the comprehensive evaluation of different educational psychology on learning characteristics. As can be seen from Fig.  6 , the teaching experience has the greatest comprehensive impact on the learning characteristics, and followed by the prestige of students. In the teaching, teachers should change teaching strategies accordingly, which can improve the teaching quality.

The response time of system

The response time refers to the time consumed by users when they use the system, which starts from clicking on a page to timing, and ends at this time when the page is completely displayed in the browser. The smaller the response time is, the faster the processing speed of the system is. The response time of the relationship prediction system is very important to the user experience, so the response time of the system is tested in this paper, and the results are shown in Fig.  7 .

figure 7

The response time of the system

The response time should take into account the number of users, the more users are, the faster the response time must be. Generally, when the user can get the response within 2 s, the system is sensitive. When the user gets the response within 2 ~ 5 s, the reaction of the system is more sensitive. When the user gets the response within 5 ~ 8 s, the reaction of the system is not very sensitive. The peak value of the maximum response time curve is about 3 s, indicating that the response time of the platform is fast. The peak of the minimum response time curve of the system is only 1.5 s, the response time of the platform is good. The peak value of the average response time curve of the system is about 2.5 s, and the average response time of the system is less than 3 s, which meets the actual needs.

The infusion of psychological principles into the realm of online education charts a transformative course toward personalized and efficacious learning encounters. Through the adept utilization of intelligent technology and knowledge graph-based systems, educators can scrutinize students' psychological profiles, customizing content and interventions to cater to individual needs. This methodology not only heightens the predictability of online education but also confronts mental health challenges by discerning indications of distress and offering timely support. The ongoing progression of intelligent systems in educational psychology holds promise for data-informed decision-making, honing teaching methodologies, and crafting more inclusive online learning environments. Nonetheless, ethical considerations concerning student privacy and well-being must be judiciously navigated to guarantee the responsible and ethical integration of these advancements within the dynamic landscape of online education. Integrating educational psychology into online education holds immense potential for revolutionizing the learning experience and addressing the evolving needs of students. The implications of this integration are multi-faceted and extend beyond the immediate improvements in the relevance and predictability of online education.

Enhanced personalization

By leveraging educational psychology in online education, personalized learning experiences can be tailored to individual students' cognitive, emotional, and social needs. Intelligent systems can adapt content, pace, and assessment methods to align with students' learning styles and preferences, fostering a more engaging and effective learning environment.

Improved mental health support

Online education, if not managed properly, can contribute to stress and mental health challenges for students. Integrating educational psychology enables the development of systems that can identify signs of psychological distress and provide timely support. This could include adaptive interventions, counseling resources, or mechanisms for fostering a positive online learning community.

Data-driven decision making

The knowledge graph-based system described in the paper demonstrates the potential for data-driven decision-making in education. Analyzing psychological characteristics through algorithms and predictive models can offer valuable insights into students' learning patterns, allowing educators to make informed decisions about instructional strategies, interventions, and curriculum development.

Continuous improvement in teaching strategies

The integration of educational psychology in online education facilitates ongoing assessment and refinement of teaching strategies. By analyzing the psychological mapping of students, educators can adapt their approaches to better suit the diverse needs of their learners, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of education.

Evolution of intelligent systems

As technology continues to advance, the integration of educational psychology into online education is likely to evolve further. More sophisticated algorithms, machine learning models, and artificial intelligence systems may emerge, providing increasingly accurate and nuanced insights into students' cognitive processes, emotional states, and learning trajectories.

Global accessibility and inclusivity

The application of educational psychology in online education can contribute to the creation of more inclusive learning environments. By understanding and addressing diverse learning needs, online education can become more accessible to individuals with different abilities, backgrounds, and learning preferences, fostering a truly global and inclusive educational landscape.

Ethical considerations and privacy

The integration of psychological analysis tools raises ethical concerns related to student privacy and data security. As these technologies advance, it will be crucial to establish robust ethical guidelines, ensuring that the benefits of educational psychology in online education are achieved without compromising the privacy and well-being of students.

Theoretical implications

The establishment of the relationship prediction system between educational psychology and ideological and political education holds significant theoretical implications. By presenting a comprehensive model that encompasses the overall framework, questionnaire-psychological mapping, psychological characteristic analysis, and knowledge graph construction, this study contributes to the theoretical foundation of predicting teaching outcomes. The integration of educational psychology with ideological and political education enriches our understanding of the underlying dynamics in pedagogical settings. Theoretical frameworks developed in this paper offer valuable insights for researchers exploring the intersection of psychological principles and ideological education.

Managerial or policy implications

The practical utility of the developed system extends to managerial and policy considerations within educational institutions. The demonstrated accuracy, recall, and F1 values of the system underscore its potential as a valuable tool for decision-makers in educational settings. Managers and policymakers can leverage the system to enhance teaching predictability, leading to more effective educational strategies. This paper advocates for the adoption of the proposed system in educational institutions, emphasizing its ability to promote the integration of educational psychology and ideological and political teaching. Such integration can have positive ramifications for the overall quality of education.

Ideas for future research

While this study provides a robust foundation for the relationship prediction system, several avenues for future research emerge. Firstly, further exploration into the fine-tuning of the k-NN model for questionnaire-psychological mapping could enhance the precision of predictions. Additionally, investigations into the scalability of the system across diverse educational contexts and demographics could broaden its applicability. Future research endeavors may delve into refining the clustering algorithm for a more nuanced analysis of psychological characteristics. Furthermore, exploring the long-term impacts of integrating the developed system into educational practices could provide insights into sustained pedagogical improvements. Overall, these suggested areas for future research aim to advance the understanding and practical implementation of predictive models in educational psychology and ideological and political education.

Availability of data and materials

No datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

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We thank the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped to improve the manuscript.

This work is funded by the Ideological and political special projects of the National Social Science Fund “Build firmly the sense of community of the Chinese nation into the ideological and political courses of universities in border areas”,the project number is 23VXZ142.And this work is supported by the "Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of CPSF",the project number is GZC20230362.

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Chen, S., Ma, Y. & Lian, W. Fostering idealogical and polical education via knowledge graph and KNN model: an emphasis on positive psychology. BMC Psychol 12 , 170 (2024).

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Guest Essay

Biden Loves Ireland. It Doesn’t Love Him Back.

A close-up of a shamrock-themed tie worn by President Biden.

By Una Mullally

Ms. Mullally, a columnist for The Irish Times, wrote from Dublin.

If there’s one thing Irish people know about President Biden, it’s that he’s one of us. He says so all the time. “Remember,” he recalls his grandfather saying, “the best drop of blood in you is Irish.” He has a habit of quoting the poet Seamus Heaney and never lets an opportunity to recall his origins go to waste. His Secret Service code name, tellingly, is Celtic.

So when he visited Ireland last year, it felt like a homecoming. “Today you are amongst friends because you are one of us,” the speaker of Parliament announced before Mr. Biden addressed Irish lawmakers. If the trip took on the sheen of a wealthy Irish American searching for his roots, a constant of Irish tourism, it also cemented the bond between him and the country. When Mr. Biden referred to the Irish rugby team beating “the Black and Tans” — the notoriously brutal 1920s police force — as opposed to the All Blacks, as New Zealand’s rugby team is known, the gaffe became an instant, affectionate meme .

By the end of the trip, it was official: Mr. Biden loves Ireland, and Ireland loves Mr. Biden. But last October changed everything. After Hamas’s attacks, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza appalled the Irish. Mr. Biden, as the leader of Israel’s closest ally and chief military supplier, was seen to be enabling the devastation. That complicity has damaged both his reputation and his relationship with the Irish people, perhaps irreparably. His ancestral homeland no longer loves him back.

Ireland has long and emotional links to Palestinians, something the world has become steadily more aware of in recent months. The Irish government, for its part, unequivocally condemns the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and repeatedly calls for the release of Israeli hostages. But it also urges restraint in Israel’s response, making multiple interventions at the European Union level and consistently calling for a cease-fire and a political solution to the carnage. Ireland knows all about cease-fires and peace building, after all.

On this matter, Ireland is something of an outlier in Europe. In a January poll , 71 percent of respondents in Ireland said they believed Palestinians lived under an Israeli apartheid system; in another poll in February, 79 percent said they believed Israel was committing genocide. By contrast, no more than 27 percent of people in seven Western European countries said they sympathized more with Palestinians than with Israelis. Here in Britain’s first colony — a status cast off through a war of independence — empathy for Palestinians is deeply rooted, born of shared historical experience.

This feeling has given rise to an extraordinary wave of pro-Palestinian actions in Ireland since the war began. The array of protests — countless concerts, fund-raisers and demonstrations calling for a cease-fire and an end to the bombardment of Gaza — goes far beyond any fringe concern. Protests in Ireland are large and spread across the country, with attendees diverse in age, class, ethnicity and political affiliation. They bring together trade unionists, Gaelic football players, journalists, ordinary citizens young and old, politicians, health care workers, L.G.B.T.Q. people and many more. It is a truly national phenomenon.

Around the world, chants at pro-Palestinian demonstrations are pretty similar. But over the winter, a specific chant took hold on Irish streets. Though St. Patrick’s Day was months away, protesters looked to the annual meeting in Washington between the Irish prime minister, or taoiseach, and the American president. At the Oval Office every March 17, the Irish leader presents to the American president a bowl of shamrock. The chant, taking notice of this tradition, was bracingly simple: “No shamrocks for Genocide Joe.”

It caught on, becoming the aural centerpiece of protests across the country, especially at the largest demonstrations on Saturdays in Dublin’s city center. It was transformed with a slight modification into a mural in Belfast, a city where Palestinian flags have long flown in nationalist communities; was spray-painted along tram tracks in Dublin; and took hold on social media, where people drew black shamrocks on the palms of their hands. Such agitation coalesced around the demand that the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, boycott this year’s White House visit.

Along with that demand, Mr. Biden became the focus of Irish ire. At protests he was rebuked by public figures, not least Bernadette Devlin McAliskey , a hero of the 1960s civil rights movement in the north of Ireland. In the press, commentators lined up to pass judgment on the American president, including the acclaimed novelist Sally Rooney , who characterized the assault on Gaza as “Biden’s war.” The criticism, at times, has been intimate. In County Louth, where Mr. Biden’s great-grandfather James Finnegan was born, a group of people gathered at a graveyard to castigate the president for betraying his roots.

The disapproval has cut through. While half of Irish voters would still rather Mr. Biden win re-election over Donald Trump, nearly a third would like to see neither man win the presidency. An open letter revoking “symbolic support” for his 2024 election campaign has been signed by 20,000 people. Given 80 percent of Irish people backed Mr. Biden in 2020 and his victory was widely welcomed, it is a startling decline in esteem for our emigrant son.

As calls to boycott the White House meeting and shamrock presentation grew, Mr. Varadkar’s own criticism of the war in Gaza became more robust. He spoke about the “hope” a cease-fire could bring and “believing in our shared humanity.” But he was never going to skip the trip. Strong relations with the United States are central to Ireland’s economic and foreign policy, after all. Even so, Irish people’s expectations for the visit, which offered an opportunity to impress on Mr. Biden their views, were high.

Mr. Varadkar did his best to relay the message. “Mr. President, as you know, the Irish people are deeply troubled about the catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes in Gaza,” he said at the shamrock presentation. “Leaders often ask me why the Irish have so much empathy for the Palestinian people. The answer is simple: We see our history in their eyes.”

This stirring speech turned out to be one of his final acts in office. Mr. Varadkar, worn out by the job, announced his resignation last week. Coming within a year of the next elections, the decision was certainly a surprise. But it did little to dampen the defiant mood in Ireland.

Mr. Biden often cites Mr. Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy.” “History says don’t hope/On this side of the grave,” the poem runs. “But then, once in a lifetime/The longed-for tidal wave/Of justice can rise up,/And hope and history rhyme.” As Irish people look across the Atlantic to Ireland’s great-grandson, many are waiting for that rhyme to land.

Una Mullally ( @UnaMullally ) is a columnist for The Irish Times.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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