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Social relationships : A matter of life and death

Updated: Dec 3, 2023


The sun goes down on us all but how quick? Raasay view,  Grimsay, North Uist
'Guinea pigs are very social animals and may not be kept on their own' - Swiss Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

The adequacy of our social relationships impacts our risk of premature death as much as smoking and alcohol consumption and more than physical inactivity or obesity. Meaning that adequate social relationships increase the relative length of life of both parties. Social relationships come in three forms. Our integration in social networks, supportive social interactions and our perception of the social support available to us.


This article will consider how we might improve the adequacy of our social relationships. It considers how our state of mind, feelings, and behaviours can impact on our social relationships.

A state of mind - preparing to relate


In choosing where we put our attention we can impact our social relationships. For example, we influence, and are influenced by, other people. Irrespective of other inequalities. Whether we notice this is partially up to us. We may notice that anyone has the potential to do us harm or assist us. With this state of mind, a self-interested, motivation towards mutually beneficial social relationships is in our self interest.


Our state of mind may also affect how likely we are to form relationships with others. We may have implicit or explicit biases towards, and/or against, certain groups of people. Keeping an open mind increases the possibility of social relationships with a wider variety of people. An open mind may also increase our perception of those who are available to support us socially.


Finally, our understanding of social relationships can increase. Observing, our own and other people’s, explicit and implicit boundaries. Perhaps recognising which of our, and others, experiences don't fit with the wider pattern. The misshapen jigsaw pieces of life. These may be common or different across our social relationships. From this more informed position, we may be increasingly able to increase the adequacy of our social relationships. However, if we combine these insights with information from our, and other peoples, feelings we may be able to illuminate even more of what is going on in our social relationships.


The full article ' A matter of life and death' is here:


n.b. I have also collated a list of other free resources on relationships I have found helpful. You can find them here : CLICK HERE


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