A fulfilling relationship can enrich your life, provide security, contentment, happiness and joy.

But what defines a good relationship? Well a relationship based on equality, in which you feel free to be yourself at all times and which also makes you feel good, is a start! Rewarding relationships are not about point scoring, you freely do things for the other person and they do the same for you. They should provide support thought the bad times and fun at all other times.

Obviously there are many different types of relationships; family, friends, colleagues and romantic relationships, and the dynamics are all slightly different. However the following 3 steps can help all relationships become stronger.

1. Never become dependant.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of 'putting all your eggs in one basket?' This often happens with first loves – the whole world now revolves around your new love, the feelings are immense, overwhelming and even a little scary. You want to spend every waking moment with that person, nothing else matters. It is easy to lose contact with friends, see your family less and then if the relationship ends or sours you are left vulnerable, alone and a little lonely. You then need to go back to the drawing board and put in the effort to resurrect the old friendships and develop new ones, to provide much needed support.

This can happen at any time, in any relationship and it is essential for your confidence, and for strong relationships, to maintain some outside interests. See your friends regularly, make time for family, pursue hobbies without your partner. Of course I'm not saying you shouldn't try to develop mutual interests, but just don't lose your own identity. After all that is what attracted your partner or friends in the first place!!

2. Stand up for what you believe in – never be afraid of a disagreement.

There are times when you want to avoid confrontation, disagreements or full blown arguments, so you keep your opinions to yourself and simply agree with the other person. This is not necessarily wrong – if you can't be bothered to argue over what to watch on telly, then fine!

But when it comes to the more fundamental aspects of your beliefs, desires and opinions, always express what you think. A good debate or even argument can stimulate a relationship, keep it fresh, and open channels of communication. .Put your opinions across in a non confrontational way - being assertive is very, very different to being arrogant or aggressive. Always listen carefully to the other persons views and never resort to personal insults. Where appropriate, try to find compromise, not win the argument.

Stay focussed on the issue. Arguing about one topic or event is fine but do not bring in old disagreements. The fact your boyfriend came home late and drunk last year is not relevant to today's disagreement about where to go on holiday!

3. Don't become complacent.

A relationship can become stale, boring and seem like more of a chore that a pleasure if you don't put in the effort to keep it vibrant. Endeavour to do something nice for the other person at least once a week, and without expecting anything in return. Run a hot bath for your partner, cook your friends or family a delicious lunch or help a colleague use that new system.

Be inventive and don't throw money at it. While gifts are great occasionally, small thoughtful gestures are much more effective in improving relationships.

Taking a time out now and again can bring new depths to a relationship – take a short break without your partner, don't contact colleagues or friends when you are on holiday, and always make some time out just for yourself.

Overall be thoughtful, considerate and empathetic with all those you interact with. While you can never change other people, altering your approach to them can bring about huge changes in their behaviour towards you. Try it and see!

Author's Bio: 

Kate Irwin is an expert in improving confidence and self esteem in all areas of life. She has compiled a workbook which will help you improve confidence instantly and permanently, download it now from www.improvedconfidence.com
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