Continuing on the subject of relationships, since we are social beings it is important that not only we interact with other people but also that we form bonds with others. The quality of those bonds will directly affect the quality of our life, the measure of our happiness. In our relationships we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to open up and be our selves. Hopefully we will feel accepted for who we are and how we are. When we are need we go to those we have built strong bonds with for support, warmth, reassurance. And this goes both ways, and in response we feel good for being there for someone we care for.
John Bowbly, talked about the vital importance of attachments in our development, and how they influence our future behavious and mental health. If we form a healthy secure attachment with our mother (or primary caregiver) in the first two years of our life it will pretty much promote healthy secure future relationships in our life. Our attachments in our childhood - whether they be parents, relatives, siblings or close family friends - set the template of of our adult relationships. If our early relationships were healthy and fulfilling, so will our adult ones.
We get everything we need from our relationships - on an emotional level. And we are emotional beings. Our interactions and relationships exist on an emotional level. Even our decisions are emotionally operated. If we feel overwhelmed we cannot make decisions. When we feel well it is easy to know what we want and what to do. As infants and children we interacted with our mother (or other primary caregivers) on an emotional basis: I feel hungry, I feel sad, I feel angry... If those expressions of how we felt were responded to positively, it would create confidence in our relationship with the other (as well as with our self) and would enable an uninterrupted flow of emotions and a as such, a strong bond. Our future relationships will have the same uninterrupted flow of emotions, which is what forms the "glue" in relationships.
Good, healthy, real, positive and fulfilling relationships make for a happier life. We live within our relationships, it is where we feel loved, accepted, joyful, playful, happy... Or, sadly where we experience rejection, shame, disappointment and finally isolation...
If things go wrong, and they often do, and our original attachmets were not secure and the flow of emotions was blocked due to negative responses, this does not mean that all adult relationships are doomed. First of all there may have been some responsive influences in our early life, and those attachments we can learn to bring to the forth. Furthermore, if we want to make changes in our life and break the cycle - so to speak - it is all up to us and how much we are willing to work for it. Building new supportive relationships can - literally - change our life. How? By increasing our self-awareness, learn to trust in others and investing more time in our selves.
If you want to learn more about the work of John Bowlby and attachment theory, there are plenty of pages on the web, but here are some links:
A celebratory conference on his work chaired by his son, Sir Richard Bowlby: